Case Study:

Fallsview Casino Entertainment Centre

Niagara Falls, Ontario
Ontario Lottery & Gaming Commission
This state-of-the-art 5,000-seat theatre was commissioned in 2016 as a design-build competition. Quinn Dressel Associates was a part of the winning proponent team of Bird Construction, ARK Inc., MCW Consultants, and Swallow Acoustic Consultants.

The building contains a steel superstructure built over an existing concrete parking garage adjacent to Hilton Niagara / Fallsview Hotel & Suites.

No bad seat in the house.

Niagara Falls was in need of a world-class venue that was fit to host high-profile performers. The bold design would have two balconies, directly overtop of each other providing closer views to the stage, even for attendees in the back row.  Due to this design, QDA faced a formidable engineering challenge.  The design required 8-metre cantilevers for both balconies with no visual obstructions between the 60-metre span of seats.  Meanwhile, the footprint of the site meant that the traditional backspan needed for such cantilevers was not available. 

The solution came in the form of six vertical box trusses spaced radially at the back of the house.  These vertical trusses each contained a series of horizontal trusses which cantilevered out at each balcony.  Spanning between these trusses, steel girders provided a support for the sub-structure which would eventually create the curved balconies.

A need for speed.

With a grand opening slated for early 2020 (determined pre-covid, of course), speed of construction was a top priority for the client. The theatre was to be constructed on top of an existing parking garage, owned and operated by Hilton Hotels. The garage, built in 2003 (with the design assistance of Quinn Dressel Associates), was designed to accommodate a future expansion of hotel or event space. In order to keep the weight of the new theatre below the capacity of the existing foundations, steel was selected as a lighter alternative to concrete. 

Using steel as a structural system meant longer lead times, therefore the balcony systems were designed with an emphasis on ease of construction. In addition, the large cantilevers eliminated concrete as an option for the balcony decks. Thus a ‘folded steel plate’ system was envisioned whereby a series of cantilever beam pairs could be constructed and shipped to site as units, which were then dropped in and bolted on.  The steel fabricator then installed the pre-fabricated folded plate support beams in sections on-site.  

The result was a stepped floor deck for the High Orchestra, Balcony 1, and Balcony 2 levels.  The steel pans were finished with concrete.  Due to the light-weight nature of steel, QDA worked with a Vibration Consultant to design Tuned Mass Dampers which would dampen the vibration of the balcony to acceptable levels during events and performances.
Citrus Fruits

The show must go on.

With the theatre connected to the Hilton Niagara / Fallsview Hotel towers and built on top of the hotel's parking garage, there were major concerns about disruptions for hotel guests during construction. It was paramount that the hotel entrance and traffic underneath the theatre remained unobstructed. QDA had to devise a plan to build a 10-storey structure above an area open to the public. To solve this enormous engineering and construction dilemma, QDA employed three distinct systems:

1) On the north side, Hilton's 60-storey hotel tower (which QDA had also designed) was built with concrete corbels on levels 3 and 5. These supported the sections of the theatre which spanned over the driving aisle below.

2) In the middle section around the stage of the theatre, the existing hotel pool was demolished. In this area, new foundations were constructed using micro-piles.

3) At the south end, the theatre occupies the space above the main entrance to the hotel and no construction was permitted here.