Dorton Arena

at 1025 Blue Ridge Rd, Raleigh, 27607 United States

Dorton Arena
1025 Blue Ridge Rd
Raleigh , NC 27607
United States
Contact Phone
P: (919) 821-7400


J.S. Dorton Arena is a 7,610-seat multi-purpose arena located in Raleigh, North Carolina, on the grounds of the North Carolina State Fair. It opened in 1952.Architect Maciej Nowicki was killed in an airplane crash before the construction phase, and local architect William Henley Dietrick supervised the completion of the arena using Nowicki's innovative design. Its design features a steel cable supported saddle-shaped roof in tension, held up by parabolic concrete arches in compression. The arches cross about 20 feet above ground level and continue underground, where the ends of the arches are held together by more steel cables in tension. The outer walls of the arena support next to no weight at all. Incorporating an unusual elliptical design by Matthew Nowicki, of the North Carolina State University Department of Architecture, the arena was listed in the National Register of Historic Places on April 11, 1973. Originally named the "State Fair Arena", it was dedicated to Dr. J. S. Dorton, former North Carolina State Fair manager, in 1961.In the past, it has hosted many sporting events, concerts, political rallies and circuses.Historic SignificanceThe Dorton Arena was the first structure in the world to use a cable-supported roof. The structure is based on two parabolic concrete arches which lean over to the point that they are closer to being parallel to the ground than they are to being vertical. The arches lean toward and beyond each other such that they cross each other 26 feet above ground. These arches, approaching horizontal in plane, thus serve as the outer edges of the structure, which when viewed from above appears almost elliptical. The arches are supported by slender columns around the building perimeter. Cables are strung between the two opposing arch structures providing support for the saddle-shaped roof. This was the first permanent cable-supported roof in the world. Constructed in 1952, the arena was the predecessor of more famous domed stadiums to follow such as the Houston Astrodome in 1965 and the Louisiana Superdome in 1975.


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