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Cork Greyhound Stadium (No.11 Apr-01)

In recent years Bord na gCon has transformed the greyhound business in Ireland and developed its portfolio of greyhound tracks into centres of high-quality entertainment. In 1996, Bord na gCon sold the site of the greyhound track in Cork and purchased a green-field site in Curraheen on the western fringes of the city.

Cork Greyhound StadiumThe site at Curraheen is in a low-lying area on the banks of the Curraheen River, and previous studies indicated that a 2-year return flood could inundate it. Aerial photography also revealed seasonal lakes and ponding after periods of heavy rainfall.

The site investigation revealed topsoil over alternate layers of sandy clay and sandy gravel with limestone bedrock at between 4.9m and 8.6m below surface. Sub-artesian perched aquifers were present in the gravels above the layers of clay. The ground investigation suggested a piled solution to bedrock for the grandstand and spread footings for the smaller ancillary structures.

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Curraheen Park consists of three major blocks or elements, which are the Grandstand (and ancillary structures), the Racetrack, and the Car Parks. At an early stage the design team determined a block layout that established the location of each of these major elements on the site and their interrelationships. The grandstand is situated alongside the home straight, such that the Judge’s Box is aligned with the primary finish line, and set-back by 15m to give space for terracing and for crowd movement in front of the bookmakers.

The grandstand and track are oriented such that the long-axis of the track is in a north-west to south-east direction. Accordingly, the stand itself protects spectators on the terraces from the prevailing winds and rain, as well as reducing the wind loads on the canopy roof. Furthermore, solar gain is much reduced because the glazed façade of the grandstand faces to the north-east, and viewing is not affected by the glare from the evening sun.

The design team chose to raise site levels to combat flooding and to assist storm water run-off to the surrounding drainage systems. The floor level of the grandstand and the track were raised to 1.5m above the existing levels to give 200mm freeboard above the 100-year flood level. The car parks and access road were raised to levels just above the predicted 25-year flood.

The substructure of the grandstand is composed of insitu concrete pile caps on precast concrete piles. The piles were to support vertical loads of 60 tonnes each. Reinforced concrete ground beams run between the pile caps. These ground beams were so designed to allow the contractor the opportunity to cast them insitu or to precast them on site.

A 200mm deep precast concrete floor slab was selected with a 75mm insitu concrete structural topping, all supported on the ground beams. This method saved on the costs of importing hardcore to fill beneath the floor slab where levels were raised by 1.5m.

The superstructure of the grandstand is essentially a steel frame, with composite floors of 200mm deep precast concrete slabs and a 75mm deep insitu concrete structural topping. The stairs are of insitu concrete construction within the steel framed towers on either side of the entrance hall.

The roof of the grandstand serves to support the planar glazing on the front elevation and form a protective canopy over the external terracing. The roof is designed as a series of steel trusses that cantilever out from the back of the building where the weight of the structure resists the overturning moments. Steel rods and masts act to limit the deflection in the canopy.

The roof is diagonally braced in its plane to carry horizontal loads back from the canopy to the rear of the structure where the loads can be carried down to ground by the braced vertical structure. The roof is clad with steel cladding panels on cold-formed purlins. The cantilever steel trusses support the planar glazing along the front elevation, where deflection is a key design parameter. The glazing hangs from the steelwork above and only takes a lateral support from the upstand below. The height of the glazing requires that 12mm glass fins be used at the head of the glazing to give additional support. The glazing acts as a propped cantilever, with moment and lateral shear support required at the head.

The external terracing along the front of the stand was designed as precast concrete terraced slabs on blockwork walls and reinforced concrete strip footings bearing in the natural gravels. Steel crush barriers on the terracing were designed to resist lateral loads of 4.5kN/m.

In January 1999, Brian McCarthy Ltd was appointed as Main Contractor. Work commenced work on site on 22 February 1999 and Curraheen Park opened for racing in April 2000.

Kevin Murray, Atkins McCarthy

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