ETCETERA - 7/23/12

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The third-oldest ballpark in major league baseball, Dodger Stadium has local resident Dean Lodmell to credit for his key role in its design and construction.

As an assistant field engineer, Dean spent two years working on the building project as a member of Praeger-Kavanagh & Waterbury, from 1960-62. Now 77, Dean reminisced about the stadium's beginnings on the Los Angeles construction site in a June article in Dodgers Magazine.

During his half-century career, Dean worked on construction projects around the world, he said in the article by Mark Langill, "A designer's stadium retrospect/Dean Lodmell relives the building of Dodger Stadium."

It's one of his most memorable experiences professionally and "a great opportunity for a young engineer."

The article is a four-page spread in the magazine, featuring vintage and current photos of Dean and other principle players on the project.

A Columbia University Engineering School student in 1959, Dean's structural design professor Tom Kavanagh was a partner in PKW. He hired Dean as a structural designer and later gave him the job as the company's representative for the stadium build.

A neighboring hill was leveled to fill in Chavez Ravine, a former housing development inhabited by mostly Spanish-speaking residents whose homes were bought to provide the 300-acre stadium site.

For two years, Dean ensured all the stadium components were built with precision and top quality, including about 23,000 pre-cast concrete segments, especially taking into account the structural needs for withstanding earthquakes. Among his duties, he documented the building process with photos and spoke often to Los Angeles business groups about progress.

A number of soundings were taken to determine how the finished structure would withstand the weight of filled seats. And Dean and a seismic expert measured vibrations at the front of each cantilevered seating tier during the first game in 1962. Following orders, the organist played the Mexican Hat Dance song for six innings while seismographic information was recorded as 52,564 fans stomped and clapped.

Their inspections concluded that the design criteria did what it was supposed to. It was a win-win situation, except that the Cincinnati Reds won with a score of 6-3.

Dodger Stadium's opening day this year fell precisely on the 50th anniversary of its first game. Wikipedia reports that although it is the largest ballpark by seating capacity, Boston's Fenway Park and Chicago's Wrigley Field are older.

Dean's happily ensconsed in Walla Walla with wife Betty Lodmell.

Etcetera appears in daily and Sunday editions. Annie Charnley Eveland can be reached at annieeveland@wwub.com or afternoons at 526-8313.

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