When Henderson Engineers started 50 years ago, we were recognized primarily for retail design, our origins firmly attached to some of the world’s biggest brands. Over the years, we began to diversify, using our retail knowledge to expand into other vertical markets, including grocery, healthcare, workplace, and restaurant before moving into a market that incorporated it all —venue design.
In the early 90s, Kansas City was becoming known as the epicenter of sports and venue design globally. With our diverse market experience across a variety of building types, Henderson was uniquely positioned and began stepping forward into recreation and convention center projects. Plus, thanks to our retail roots, we knew how to deliver out-of-the-box design solutions and memorable customer experiences, which was becoming increasingly important as venues competed for events, conventions, fans, and patrons.
We were ready when a successful, on-call relationship with the University of Kansas (KU) led to a one-of-a-kind sports project — the Booth Family Hall of Athletics addition to Allen Fieldhouse, a shrine to college basketball. Henderson followed up with stadium projects for Notre Dame University softball, University of Missouri baseball and football, University of Michigan baseball and softball, and the Rutgers University football end zone expansion and fill-in.
In 2007, Henderson landed the Matthew Knight Arena at the University of Oregon, a basketball facility subsidized by the Athletic Legacy Fund established by Phil Knight, co-founder of Nike. A year later, we helped survey damage from Hurricane Katrina at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans and served as the telecom and security consultant on the subsequent restoration and improvements. That same year, we began work on the Bartle Hall Grand Ballroom expansion over an active interstate at the Kansas City Convention Center before starting work the following year on GCU Arena at Grand Canyon University.
Over time, we’ve introduced new venue design engineering services creating a convenient one-stop shop for our venue clients that includes acoustics, architectural lighting, audio-video, broadcast, code consulting, electrical, fire and life safety, mechanical, plumbing, security, and telecom.
We’ve challenged ourselves along the way to solve some of the industry’s biggest challenges. We designed a patented seat-cooling material to keep fans comfortable in outdoor arenas, researched ways to optimize LED and circadian lighting to improve performance, and worked closely with AECOM to develop a first-of-its-kind under-seat air distribution system. Lately, we’ve been busy helping reconfigure and repurpose venues as a result of the coronavirus pandemic and developing design guidelines to help reduce the risk of infection.
Today, Henderson has completed high-profile venue design projects for convention centers, expo centers, performing arts, and collegiate and professional teams across the country, in every major sport: NBA, NFL, NHL, MLB, and MLS. The venue practice has grown from 10 employees to more than 120 nationwide, and Henderson can regularly be found on industry lists, including Building Design+Construction magazine’s annual ranking of sports facilities engineering firms.
Throughout it all, we’ve remained focused on forming close client relationships, hiring great people, and figuring out how to do what’s never been done before.
The opening of SoFi Stadium & Entertainment District, including the Hollywood Park Performance Venue, is the latest example of our innovative approach to venue design. The following represent a few of our notable projects over the years: