James Carpenter, the world-renowned architect who has left his mark on projects like New York City’s Millennium Tower, Brooklyn Bridge Park, and others, recently revealed his latest work, Light Veil, at Dallas’ Cotton Bowl Stadium. The Cotton Bowl Public Art Project, a $25.5 million endeavor aimed at revamping the stadium, included a contest that Carpenter won out for equipping the stadium with a new facade.
Carpenter’s design relies on the sole use of hanging mesh ribbons whose delicate strength elicits an ethereal effect. The facade is constructed out of uniformly spaced thin mesh ribbons, 2 feet wide and 50 feet long, that weigh in at a slight 80 pounds. Up close, the strong parallel lines impress with their connotations of durability, reliability, and uprising power—positive associate qualities for any sports stadium. From a distance, however, the impact is wholly different yet just as impressive.
The ribbon’s interact with natural sunlight to create a shimmering front, hence the aptly named Light Veil. Some writers have dubbed Carpenter’s treatment as “gift-wrapped.” The phrase keys into the fact that the design’s simple elegance delivers a surprise no matter which way you turn.
Carpenter’s work delights in the interplay between light and glass, and could be considered a signature trait of his work. “The brighter a material gets, the more solid it feels,” Carpenter has said, thereby highlighting the underlying paradox of the Cotton Bowl’s new face: how basic structural elements solidify the intangible in a very real way.
The Cotton Bowl Project included adding more club seats, concession stands, and general clean up. The veil, which cost $8 million to complete and comes third or fourth in a trend of mesh facades, allows the audience to more fully experience the interplay between the sporting event, the stadium’s interior, and the city beyond.