Innovative Structural Design Shines at Acrisure Arena

05 March 2024
Fans attending an event at Acrisure Arena.

Walter P Moore’s engineering design for Acrisure Arena has earned ACEC California’s Golden State Award. The versatile entertainment hub showcases their innovative approach to seismic resistance, wind pressure, and rigging loads.


The American Council of Engineering Companies of California (ACEC California) has awarded us the prestigious Golden State Award for our work on Acrisure Arena located in Coachella Valley, California.

The engineering design for Coachella’s newest entertainment hub, the Acrisure Arena, was created by Walter P Moore. Acrisure Arena emerged as a game-changer in the Coachella Valley, offering a versatile mid-size hockey arena and concert venue, thanks to the vision of developer Populous/Oak View Group. With 10,000 fixed seats and a capacity of up to 11,500, it quickly became a year-round focal point for entertainment, hosting sold-out hockey games and concerts.

Acrisure Arena project team accepting the ACEC California award.

Design challenges

One of the primary challenges were three distinct extreme loading scenarios: seismic forces, high winds, and substantial rigging loads. The venue’s proximity to the powerful San Andreas Fault demanded a creative approach to earthquake resistance. Traditional methods would have required a wide seismic joint between Acrisure Arena and the smaller Berger Foundation Ice plex, compromising aesthetics and increasing costs. Instead, the structural engineer pioneered a novel method, utilizing shared foundations, columns, and beams to ensure both structures behaved compatibly during an earthquake.

The arena’s design demanded meticulous analysis due to the combined forces of powerful earthquakes, 130 mph winds, and a substantial show rigging grid. Additionally, the entire building enclosure and roof had to withstand high wind pressures. Moreover, a 17-foot height difference between the two buildings presented additional complexity. To mitigate this, the engineer introduced Buckling Restrained Brace frames as horizontal struts, limiting force transfer between the structures during seismic events. As a result, not only were safety measures enhanced, but recovery costs were also reduced post-earthquake, a first in the field. Complex diaphragm forces and efficient in-plane diaphragm steel trusses were used to safely transfer the remaining loads.

Engineering awareness

Acrisure Arena’s success heightened public awareness of the critical role engineering plays in ensuring safety near fault zones. News outlets, like KESQ, featured interviews with the structural engineer, reassuring the public about the arena’s structural integrity. This enhanced the reputation of both the project and the engineering profession, emphasizing the importance of excellent engineering in creating safe structures.

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