Ken Rosewall Arena’s cable-tension roof is Australia’s first of its kind

In 2021, The P.A. People celebrate 50 years in business. Quite simply, it’s an outstanding achievement. It makes them one of the very few companies worldwide in this industry to achieve such a significant milestone. Yet, they have continued going about their business through this bloody pandemic, getting the job done.

A significant project The P.A. People completed recently was the Ken Rosewall Arena in Homebush, Sydney. Nearly 20 years after being built for the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games, COX Architecture was appointed to design a new cable-tension roof to cover what was already an impressive venue. The roof structure benefits from a PTFE fabric and was designed by COX, collaborating with Arup and Fabritecture, and built by AW Edwards. It is the first of its kind for stadia in Australia.

Photo courtesy of Austadiums

Part of the upgrade was the provision of huge LED video screens to provide a superb video presentation of scores and on-court close-up action to every audience member inside the venue. The screens can be configured in two different arrangements, either at the top of the seating tiers for Tennis, or suspended from the centre of the roof structure for Netball.

Photo courtesy of COX Architecture

To support around 8 tonnes of LED screens in the Netball configuration, The P.A. People designed a 22m x 22m F104 Truss structure with four F55 5-Chord Truss diagonal beams to suspend the LED screens. They also devised a custom plated wedge junction to interface between the two different sizes of truss. Only four points hang the entire structure, so the 1,000mm tall F104 Truss enabled the large spans whilst the heavy-duty F55 5-Chord Truss allowed an easy balancing of the load for the LED screens on the centre chord.

Chris Dodds, Managing Director at The P.A. People for over 30 years (only!), explains how the project all came together.

The P.A. People are proud of our contribution to the infrastructure in Sydney Olympic Park.  During the late 1990’s we designed and installed sound systems in the Tennis Centre, the Olympic Stadium, the RAS Showgrounds as well as the site-wide overlay works. We have gone on to service and maintain many of these systems over the past twenty years.

In late 2018 we fielded a call from netball NSW. They were in the midst of preparing a funding submission for the proposed upgrade of the Ken Rosewall Arena and were seeking budget advice for the sound system for the upgraded venue.

By mid-2019 the project had received funding and was progressing quickly. Having designed in the original building, COX Architecture was retained as the architect, AW Edwards had been appointed as the builder whilst Arup was contracted to scope all the engineering services.  Given the very ambitious timeline required and our history in the venue, The P.A. People approached AECOM, the client’s project managers with a proposal to work alongside ARUP to deliver the entire audiovisual package.  The P.A. People had previously worked with AW Edwards and their electricians Barnwell Cambridge on a number of similar projects so the team was well known to each other and after carrying out a diligence period, we were engaged by AW Edwards and Barnwell Cambridge.”

One of the significant elements of the project was the design and fabrication of the LED Gondola structure. The P.A. People have used Global Truss for many years, so we approached the DQ team to get some structural information on their F014 and F55 products.  “ The DQ team were great.  They were able to provide 3D models of the truss elements which made the design of the custom corners and suspension plates relatively simple.”  Dodds continued.

“DQ was also able to ask their structural engineers to provide a proof of concept report so that we could ascertain that the truss itself would be ‘fit for purpose’.  Then once we had completed the development of the design, we had DQ arrange for the same engineering team to sign off on the entire structure before installation.

The gear was all delivered on time and went together just as it was drawn. The structure also required a novel cable management system that we designed, and is suspended from four 2.5 tonne d8+ hoists fitted with integral load cells and position encoders”.

Photo courtesy of COX Architecture

It was a pleasure to play a minimal role with some of the world’s best. The Ken Rosewall Arena, one of the world’s leading tennis (and now netball) venues, COX Architecture, one of the world’s leading architectural firms, Global Truss, one of the world’s leading truss manufacturers and, of course, The P.A. People, clearly one of the world’s best AV integrators.

DQ was happy to celebrate our milestone of 25 years in business in 2021 but, it pales into insignificance with The P.A. People’s 50-year milestone!