Work recently started on the construction of the new Atlanta Falcons stadium. The stadium, to be shared with a new Major League Soccer team, will contain a number of high-tech and sustainability features. It will also boast a "one-of-a-kind" eight-piece interlocking retractable roof.

Stadium architecture is becoming increasingly advanced. The new Minnesota Vikings stadium will feature what is claimed will be the world’s largest transparent roof. AS Roma's new stadium, meanwhile, is based on the Roman Colosseum and, according to architects Woods Bagot, will boast a carbon-neutral energy footprint.

Designs for the new Atlanta Stadium were also inspired by an ancient Roman building. Senior principle of 360 Architects Bill Johnson explains in a video on the Falcons' YouTube channel that the spotlight-type effect created by the small hole in the roof of the Pantheon was the basis for the stadium's retractable roof. The design aims to use light coming in through the roof opening to highlight or frame the playing field.

The roof itself is unlike most, if not all, other retractable roofs found on stadiums. Rather than being formed of two sides that slide shut together, it is made up of eight large leaves that rotate and interlock, gradually closing in a lattice-like manner.

"The roof has been dubbed The Pantheon because of its unique retractable opening in the center," explains Erleen Hatfield in a Q&A on the new stadium's website. Hatfield is a partner and director of structural engineering for Buro Happold, which is contributing to the stadium design. "The opening looks like the opening of a camera shutter, with eight moving pieces," she continues. "A series of lighter panels, rather than one big heavy panel, makes for faster open and close times and an iconic look."

Amongst the other innovative features in the stadium will be a 60 ft (18 m) high, 360-degree video board and a floor to ceiling window with views of Atlanta. The stadium is also said to be being planned with LEED practices for design, construction and operations in mind.

The New Atlanta Stadium is scheduled to open for the 2017 NFL season.

The video below provides an introduction to the New Atlanta Stadium including, towards the end, an animation showing how the roof will open and shut.

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