Global architecture and design practice Populous, designer of the London 2012 Olympic Stadium, has been selected as architect for a large new stadium in the compact town of Rostov-on-Don, Russia, a city of just over 1 million people about 650 miles south of Moscow. Designed to host the FIFA World Cup in 2018, the stadium is Populous' fourth design for a sports venue in Russia and will contain an anticipated 45,000 seats under a cloud-like, seemingly-floating canopy. Set along the Don River, the Rostov Stadium design takes into account the surrounding landscape by drawing inspiration from kurgans—archeological mounds of earth formed along river banks and once used for pagan rituals—with artificial hills pushed up around the stadium's perimeter. Populous took an environmentally conscious stance in their proposal, aiming to protect wetlands south of the River near the stadium site. The stadium itself is sheltered by a balloon-like roof consisting of two long panels around its perimeter—each resembling a smooth, curving paintbrush stroke from above—with a central opening allowing light onto the playing field. External paths and entrances to the venue continue this theme with more curves and soft winding lines. For the World Cup, the stadium will have a capacity of 45,000 seats, which will later be scaled down to 25,000 seats.
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Eleven finalists including Zaha Hadid, Toyo Ito, SANAA, and UN Studio have been announced for a major new stadium project in Japan. Tadao Ando, jury chair for the Japan Sports Council competition, revealed the contending designs for the New National Stadium, narrowing the field from the original 46 entries. First, second, and third place prizes were secretly selected on Wednesday, November 7th, but the winners won't be named until a ceremony is held later this month. While we anxiously await the final announcement, take a look at the proposed stadium designs by each team. Scheduled for completion in 2018, the stadium is already slated to host the 2019 Rugby World Cup and will also be offered as a site for the FIFA World Cup, the IAAF World Championships, and a range of entertainment events. The stadium could even play host to the 2020 Olympics and Paralympics if Japan is chosen as their location.
LA Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa's "Vision Team," a group of eight architects consulting on the city's planned football stadium and convention center expansion have issued a damning report on the latter project, reports the LA Daily News. The center is being designed by Populous and developed by AEG. "This is not good city design," Norman Millar, dean of Woodbury University School of Architecture, and a Vision Team member, told the Daily News this week. Among the team's complaints, they worry about having visitors enter the new hall through a dark passage created by bridging the building over Pico Boulevard. The team also frets about possible fumes under the tunnel, the configuration of the center's huge ballroom, and the amount of natural light that would enter the building. The Vision Team also includes Hitoshi Abe, chairman of Architecture & Urban Design at UCLA; Scott Johnson of Johnson Fain; Joseph Coriaty, a partner at Frederick Fisher and Partner; and Paul Danna, principal at SOM. The group has met at least three times. Villaraigosa's spokesman Peter Sanders told the Daily News that the mayor knew about the Vision Team's concerns. "We believe we have the best plan given the constraints that exist," Sanders wrote. The project's EIR goes before LA City Council tomorrow.
Big-time sports architect Dan Meis, who has designed, among other projects, LA's Staples Center and Seattle's Safeco Field, is on the move yet again. In the span of just a few years he has shuffled from his own practice to Aedas, then back to his own firm to Populous, to his own firm again, and now he is joining Australian firm Woods Bagot Sport to become its global director. Exciting opportunties? Commitment issues? "I'm not crazy about having been with a couple of different firms in a short time period," admitted Meis. But he sees it differently: "For me it feels like I’ve been in the same practice all along. It just feels like I've been associated with a lot of firms." So why Woods Bagot? Not only has the firm made a strong commitment to sports (an issue he had at Aedas when the economy took a hit), but Meis won't have to compete internally to work on major projects (a problem he ran into at Populous). The final straw at Populous came when the firm took on plans for a new LA Convention Center by AEG, putting him into direct conflict with one of his existing projects, a football stadium for LA's City of Industry. (AEG is proposing a competing stadium in Downtown LA.) Meanwhile Meis will get to continue working on a number of his recent projects, including the City of Industry football stadium, a soccer arena in Rome, and an arena for the upcoming 2022 World Cup in Qatar.
It’s that time again. With the economy still gasping, it’s time for struggling firms to get bought by behemoths and for other firms to split up. Among the rumors we’ve been hearing, LA firm Kanner Architects is rumored to be close to being swallowed by New York firm Ronnette Riley. Dan Meis, who only just recently left Populous to go off on his own, may soon get bought out, although we’re not sure by whom. And after Phoenix-based Will Bruder’s partners recently bought him out his firm Will Bruder + Partners is now split into two firms called WORKSBUREAU and Will Bruder Architects. Why can’t we just stay together anymore? (Image: chirastar/Flickr)
Yesterday AEG unveiled its design for a 200,000 square foot convention center expansion in downtown Los Angeles. Replacing a wing of the LA Convention Center, the new structure, called LACOEX (LA Convention and Exhibition Hall) and designed by Populous (which, it so happens, is also designing Majestic Realty's proposed stadium in the City of Industry) the elevated center would stretch over Pico Boulevard and connect directly to the company’s planned football stadium, the Gensler-designed Farmers Field. The highly graphic, glass paneled exterior would be complemented by restaurants and patios outside the base of the hall,. The plan, of course, won't go forward until LA gets a new NFL team for the new stadium/convention complex. Look for an update with more information soon.
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Custom canopy scores big at Kansas City’s new soccer stadium.Kansas City’s Livestrong Sporting Park opened in June as the city’s first soccer-centric stadium and the new home of the Sporting Kansas City, the soccer team formerly known as the Kansas City Wizards. To make the arena both athlete- and fan-friendly, architect Populous envisioned a soaring roof canopy designed to evoke the arc of a soccer ball flying across the field. The team considered building the canopy with ETFE (ethylene tetrafluoroethylene) pillows, but desired a look more in line with glass panels. The weight of glass would have significantly increased the amount of steel substructure, in turn raising the canopy’s price. Working with Michigan-based architectural canopy design, engineering, and fabrication company Duo-Gard, the team began instead to develop a high-performance polycarbonate glazing system that minimized weight and maximized light transmission onto the field. In addition to its impact-resistance and long-span structural requirements, the canopy had to meet several programmatic demands. The architects wanted to create an intimate environment that would amplify the crowd’s noise, so the canopy had to cover every seat. While it would provide some shade for the audience, the structure also had to have enough light transmittance to maintain the natural grass preferred by Major League Soccer. The polycarbonate canopy would curve around the more than 1,800-foot stadium circumference, ranging from 25 to 70 feet in depth with a 1/12 pitch and 12-foot spans between structural members. “This kind of span hadn’t been done before by anyone with polycarbonate at a slight slope,” said Duo-Gard president David Miller. “Our engineers broke ground with this.” More than 100 feet above the ground, the stadium’s steel structure cantilevers 95 feet and supports a metal deck that transitions to the two-tiered clear polycarbonate deck, which is built with a 36-inch step-down to form a cavity for lighting and sound equipment. The 25mm triple-wall polycarbonate glazing allows 80 percent light transmission and integrates Duo-Gard’s 3 ½-inch aluminum profile at 32 inches on center to minimize shading. The framing system incorporates a custom engineered base plate, pressure plate, and curved cap that conceals canopy fasteners. According to Frank Kosciolek, Duo-Gard’s engineering manager, typical canopy systems have a 7-inch profile at 24 inches on center, creating more shadows and requiring an additional steel purlin. The team estimated that elimination of the extra purlin resulted in a 35 percent reduction in the amount of metal used. The system also met one and a half times of its structural loading requirements during testing. As home to the largest polycarbonate stadium canopy in North America, Kansas City’s sports scene is enjoying its moment in the sun.
It turns out that sports arena architects Populous (formerly HOK Sport) have bagged not just one, but two of the biggest hypothetical projects in Los Angeles. Not only has the firm designed Majestic Realty's proposed football stadium for the City of Industry, but they were just named by AEG as designers of its competition: The LA Convention Center's relocated West Hall, which would be coupled with Gensler's new downtown football stadium if that project gets approval. Both projects, of course, have yet to receive that elusive approved status and, perhaps of greater concern, LA still has no football team, but it's still a coup for Populous, whose Dan Meis would not comment on the company's new commission. "We are laying a bit low on commenting on this given we have been involved with both projects," he told AN. Still a Populous spokesperson told the LA Times, "We're not currently performing work for a competing NFL stadium in Los Angeles," and that the firm had Majestic's blessing. Only time will tell if this situation gets tense.
Basketball fans in Louisville gathered Downtown Sunday on 10.10.10 for a ribbon cutting ceremony at the just-finished $238 million KFC Yum! Center designed by Populous architects, formerly HOK Sports, Venue, Event. The 22,000 seat venue is the home of the University of Louisville Cardinals. Populous designed the arena to reflect Louisville's geographic situation at the Falls of the Ohio, a natural waterfall on the Ohio River around which the city was founded. An undulating roof cascades toward the river with a single fluid gesture. An adjacent street under the Second Street Clark Memorial Bridge has been converted into a pedestrian space featuring an installation by New York-based light artist Leni Schwendinger. A public ceremony will take place this evening to unveil the light display incorporated into the bridge structure. Schwendinger recently completed a light installation under a bridge at the New York Port Authority building and has been selected as part of a team to redesign Times Square. City officials have pinned redevelopment hopes on the building and have already seen development spurred by the investment. Several historic whiskey warehouses dating to the 1860s in surrounding blocks are being renovated to provide housing, retail, and entertainment space.
Americans do like soccer, contrary to what many around the world believe. American architects, though? Hard to say.. But even for the most soccer-agnostic architects, there are four good reasons to watch -- or at least glancingly pay attention to -- this year's World Cup in South Africa. Four of the 10 stadia designed or renovated for this year's quadrennial World Cup really are worth checking out beyond the context of international soccer matches. These stadia will be long-lasting legacies of the World Cup; that's good news for people who want to check these structures out, but potentially bad news for the cities that have invested hundreds of millions of dollars in what may become massive white elephants. And here they are, AN's favorite four!! Soccer City Stadium, Johannesburg The showpiece of the World Cup, this striking earth-toned stadium will play host to eight of the tournament's 64 matches, including the opener and the final. Designed by South Africa-based Boogertman + Partners in conjunction with U.S.-based Populous (formerly HOK Sport) the stadium is actually a renovation of the original Soccer City, built in 1987, the structural profile of which remains at the core of this updated version. The new design gives the stadium a three-tiered structure with room for about 94,700 people -- the biggest in Africa. It was modeled after the calabash, a traditional African gourd pot, and its bowl-like appearance makes it one of the most interesting World Cup sights to see. Driving down the Soweto Highway at night, it can almost be mistaken for a far-off twinkling city skyline. Now accessible by the Johannesburg's World Cup-instigated Rea Vaya bus rapid transit system, the stadium will see some continued use in the future as home to the South African National team, as well as various cultural and sporting events. And additional commercial and residential developments are also expected to rise up around the stadium, so locals are hoping the $440 million the city invested will pay off in the long-run. Moses Mabhida Stadium, Durban This brand new stadium in Durban has maybe the most unexpected design of all the World Cup Stadia. Modeled after the South African National Flag, the stadium has a 105-meter-high arch that runs the length of the oval-shaped structure. At one end, that arch splits as it heads towards the ground, creating a gap that provides a view of nearby downtown Durban to people in the stands during its seven World Cup matches. The stadium as a whole has a very ship-like feel to it, which is appropriate in Durban, South Africa's famous beachside city. And, as an added novelty, the arch boasts a funicular "skycar" that transports tourists up to its apex for what are probably some very sweet views of the city. The bold can even bungee jump from the top, though a series of malfunctions with the skycar left a number of tourists stranded at the top of the arch on multiple occasions leading up to the Cup. This stadium was designed by GMP Architekten, a German firm, and the designer of two other notable stadia on this list. At a cost of 4.8 billion Rand (roughly $640 million), Moses Mabhida Stadium is the second most expensive stadium built for the World Cup. There will be seating for 70,000 for the World Cup, but the amount of seating can be reduced to 54,000 or increased to 80,000 depending on the need. Need, however, is a concern in Durban, as no professional team (soccer nor rugby) has yet decided to use it as their home base. Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, Port Elizabeth GMP Architekten's design for this brand new stadium in the relatively small but growing oceanside city of Port Elizabeth has an appropriately nautical feel. Overlooking the city's North End Lake, the stadium exterior emulates the sails of an early trading ship, and its pointed bulges are like the ridges on a bottle cap. Host to just five World Cup matches, the stadium's impressive features are likely to push it across TV screens far more than its game count would otherwise merit. After the Cup, the city is hoping that two local teams -- one rugby, one soccer -- will take it on as their home field. But both of those teams have not succeeded in climbing into their sports' respective top leagues, which makes the prospect of regularly filling a 48,000-seater for minor league sports unlikely. This unfortunate reality has left the city questioning the wisdom of its $270 million investment -- and worried about the stadium's future. Cape Town Stadium, Cape Town This subtle but attractive stadium is less a statement of its own than an exclamation point for a city with more than its share of iconic scenery. Positioned near the tip of Africa, Cape Town boasts an incredibly scenic oceanfront. And with Table Mountain and Signal Hill behind it, the addition of this brand new stadium to the city's beach side Green Point Common is just icing. Its strong vertical walls and gently dipped roof line accentuate the flatness of the city's famous mountains, and also provide a classy look to what is already a posh and cosmopolitan city. Though there has been some controversy about the selection of Green Point as the site of a brand new stadium when existing stadia in the city could have been World Cup-ready with little investment, the stadium is already considered a postcard asset. GMP Architekten's design includes a translucent skin, which turns the stadium into a bright glowing light during evening events. And an innovative roof design contains much of the sound generated at the stadium within its walls, a boon to nearby residents who would otherwise be subjected to the impressively loud sound of up to 68,000 vuvuzelas. Seating will be reduced to 55,000 after Cape Town's eight World Cup matches are over. At a total cost of roughly $773 million, this is the most expensive stadium of the World Cup. City officials have contracted with a management company to book events in the stadium to help pay off what has been a major investment for the city.
There's a feeling of drastic change this year at the All England Lawn Tennis Club, home to the Wimbledon tennis tournament. Don't worry, the players are still wearing all white and bowing and curtsying to the Queen. But when one looks upward from Centre Court they'll see a new translucent, retractable roof, meant to keep away the rain that inevitably delays the matches every year. Designed to close in about ten minutes, the new roof , designed by Populous (formerly HOK Sport; they switched names a few months ago) is constructed of tensile Tenara fabric, which unfolds, accordion-style, across the ceiling. Held up by roof trusses, the fabric has a 40% translucency that lets light penetrate and—vitally— reach the grass below. Working with a system that immediately removes humidity when the roof closes, it seems to be working well. But some wonder if it's really the same tournament without all the sogginess and with all the high-tech gimmickry. Especially at a place best known for its resistance to change. We don't know, but we'll be happy to check it out! Anyone? Anyone?