Soccer fields, ballparks, and football stadiums are all designed to direct attention towards a central spectacle, but that doesn’t mean they all have to follow the same playbook. In a year where cities tried to integrate their stadiums into the surrounding urban fabric, developers and designers demonstrated new ways of thinking about how we imagine sports architecture. Designing for sports means thinking not only about withstanding the elements and the wear and tear of massive crowds, but also make sure the project stands the test of time. 2017 saw stadiums go to new, sometimes weird places, all made possible through creative engineering. Below are some of the best sports architecture projects that AN has written about this year.
The swooping, biomorphic shape of the new L.A. Rams stadium is pierced by 20 million holes. Even though the whole thing is clad in metal panels, the breezy, HKS-designed arena will let fresh air blow through, hopefully solving at least some of the “hellish” conditions of the current coliseum.
A viral story about the Georgia Dome’s failed implosion couldn’t overshadow the opening of its replacement, HOK’s Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta. Crowned by an iris-shaped roof that can open or close in only nine minutes, the stadium features a host of innovative engineering applications that make it what it is. The multi-use, LEED Platinum certified stadium has certainly been recognized for it, too.
Putting aside the Raiders’ controversial move from Oakland to Las Vegas, the stadium proposed for the team’s new hometown is light, airy, and undeniably football-centric. A step up from the 50-year old concrete coliseum that the Raiders share with the Oakland A’s, the approximately $2 billion project will focus solely on one sport. While the project broke ground just last month and is on track for the NFL’s 2020 season, that means three years of tension between fans while the Raiders are still in Oakland.*
This year new renderings were released for the stadium that soccer star David Beckham hopes will draw a pro-soccer team to Miami. After feedback over an initially bulky design, Populous unveiled plans for an open-air stadium with a soaring superstructure topped by a canopy. The most ground-breaking part of the stadium is that it won’t break ground on any parking lots, encouraging spectators to use the nearby Metrorail, waterways, and even a shuttle service from stadium-owned parking garages that could be built further away.
The Los Angeles Football Club (LAFC) teamed up with Gensler earlier this year to release their plans for a “European-style” soccer stadium where steeply stacked seating arrangements would put fans closer to the field than a traditional layout. Newly-christened as the Banc of California Stadium, the open-air stadium is ensconced around the edges by cavernous glass sections that will both keep viewers dry as well as house the lighting system. A focus on upscale interior finishes might not be the first thing that comes to mind when discussing a soccer stadium, but the LAFC hopes that these restaurants and commercial spaces will draw non-fans to the area as well.
Skaters were outraged when Tampa demolished the Bro Bowl, a concrete skatepark that boarders had been tagging since 1978. Part of the city’s redevelopment of the Central Avenue drag, a compromise was reached where an exact replica of the park was built a few hundred feet away, with the original site being turned into a sculpture garden for works portraying prominent members of the African American community. With both Tampa’s African American community and the skaters up in arms at first, both sides have come to embrace the new developments.