Last year Minneapolis broke ground on a major mixed-use development centered around a park next to the under-construction stadium that will house the Minnesota Vikings football team. Now dubbed “The Commons,” the 4.2-acre park was the subject of a public meeting last week, at which its design came into clearer focus. Designed by San Francisco's Hargreaves Associates, the site has a lot going on, in the words of MinnPost's Marlys Harris: “a café, promenades, a Great Lawn, a lesser lawn, a water feature, play areas for kids, a stage, garden-y places, trees (of course), places to compete at bocce and chess, kiosks, an ice rink in winter, tables with umbrellas, moveable chairs, public art and benches and terraces where public snogging could occur.” It will also accommodate fan festivals and other Vikings-related events on game days. Hargreaves fielded a reported 2,750 survey responses while designing the park, whose budget is projected at $22 million. Only a small portion of that has been raised, and public officials have said the space will be financed by private donations. As public discussion of the democratically designed space continues, budget adjustments may align with Harris' call "to survey the public on what they could live without." One remaining question is whether Portland Avenue, which currently bisects the park site, will remain open to automobile traffic.
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Missouri's football fans are savoring plans for a new NFL stadium in downtown St. Louis, but it remains unclear if the HOK-led designs will be enough to keep the Rams from leaving. In January fans of the St. Louis Rams got new reason to fear their football team might depart when owner Stan Kroenke announced plans to build an HKS-designed 80,000-seat stadium in the Los Angeles suburb of Inglewood. Twenty years after the NFL team left L.A. in the first place, they may well move back—but not if St. Louis officials and fans have their way. New renderings released in March give more substance to plans that could woo the Rams into staying: a football and soccer stadium on the banks of the Mississippi River designed by St. Louis–based HOK. The National Football League has said no team relocations will happen this year, but either stadium plan could be ready for construction in 2016.
Are you ready for some football stadiums? Los Angeles gets even more proposals for its yet-unsecured NFL team
Just when we thought Los Angeles' football stadium craziness had cooled down, the owners of the San Diego Chargers and Oakland Raiders have unveiled plans for a 72,000 seat, $1.7 billion stadium on a 168-acre site in Carson—which should soon be on that city's ballot—while Inglewood City Council approved a measure to build a stadium for the (for now) St. Louis Rams, originally floated by Rams' owner Stan Kroenke. The firm behind the Carson stadium, MANICA Architecture, is also designing a new arena for the Golden State Warriors in San Francisco's Mission Bay. The architect of the Rams' stadium is HKS. That office's plan would include an 80,000 seat stadium and a 6,000 seat performance venue, both part of a mixed-use development on the site of Hollywood Park. Showing how serious it is about moving an NFL team to LA, the NFL has launched a "Committee on Los Angeles Opportunities," to "oversee the application of the relocation guidelines in the event that one or more clubs seek to move to Los Angeles. A half-dozen Southern California stadium proposals have been pitched in the past three years, although only the two most recent are attached to specific teams. Other proposals have been suggested for City of Industry, Downtown LA, Elysian Park, the Rose Bowl, and the Los Angeles Coliseum. The NFL has not had a team in Los Angeles since the Rams and Raiders both left after the 1994 season.
St. Louis' NFL franchise, the Rams, left Los Angeles in 1994. Twenty years later they're mulling a move back, but not without a fight from the residents of their new Midwestern home. Last week plans for a new arena on the banks of the Mississippi River upped the ante, promising Rams fans 64,000 seats and an open-air stadium designed by HOK and 360 Architecture that a city-appointed task force called “the crown jewel of the reinvention of St. Louis’ city center”. L.A., where the Rams were founded and played for nearly 50 years, offers an 80,000-seat stadium designed by HKS. The Associated Press said last week that billionaire Rams owner Stan Kroenke wasn't returning calls from St. Louis city officials. In November Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon appointed Former Anheuser-Busch President Dave Peacock and Attorney Bob Blitz to lead a task force on the new stadium proposed for the North Riverfront area of downtown. Their plan, released Friday, said “the new stadium will impose no new tax burden on taxpayers in the local region or the State of Missouri”. It proposes bridging I-44 to link the Edward Jones Dome with St. Louis' Great Rivers Greenway network and the CityArchRiver grounds, where the city's iconic Gateway Arch and Museum of Western Expansion are undergoing a massive renovation and expansion. If approved, the stadium, which would also play host to Major League Soccer games, would start construction in 2016 and be ready for games in 2020. That is, if St. Louis still has a team; The National Football League has said no team relocations will happen this year.
After years of, ahem, false starts, it's looking very possible that the NFL will be returning to Los Angeles. According to the LA Times, St. Louis Rams owner Stan Kroenke, who bought 60 acres next to the Forum in Inglewood last year, has announced plans to build an HKS-designed 80,000-seat stadium and a 6,000-seat performance venue as part of the 300-acre Hollywood Park site. He's teaming up with Stockbridge Capital Group on what's being labeled the "City of Champions" Revitalization Project. Stockbridge is now building a mixed-use development there with developer Wilson Meany and designers Mia Lehrer + Associates, Hart Howerton Architects & Planners, BCV Architects, SWA, and others. The Rams left Los Angeles in 1994, while the Raiders took off for Oakland the next year, leaving the city teamless for almost two decades. Kroenke has been outspoken about his unhappiness with his club's current stadium, the Edward Jones Dome, and St. Louis is expected to give the owner a new offer by the end of this month. If that doesn't pan out, the new stadium (and the surrounding "City of Champions" Revitalization Project) could be on the Inglewood ballot later this year, and the scheme could be complete by 2018. Inglewood recently reopened the Forum, so momentum is building. Meanwhile efforts for stadiums in Downtown LA and City of Industry remain on hold until another team steps in.
While the Los Angeles Bureau of Engineering moves ahead with its competition for a $350 million renovation and expansion of the Los Angeles Convention Center, the NFL is threatening to make those plans obsolete. According to NBC Sports, a league source has confirmed that the NFL will send one or even two teams back to LA within the next one to two years. Two favorites include the St. Louis Rams and the Oakland Raiders. If the NFL comes to town then AEG's plans for a new downtown stadium (by Gensler) and convention center expansion (by Populous) may follow. Of course a team could just as easily move to a site being floated near Hollywood Park, in Chavez Ravine, and in City of Industry. As of now the city has shortlisted AC Martin/LMN, Gensler/Lehrer Architects, and HMC/Populous for the convention center. No word from the Bureau of Engineering at this point. Stay tuned as we try to make sense of all this.
San Jose Mercury News columnist (and frequent AN contributor) Alan Hess took on HNTB's Levi's Stadium, the new $1.3 billion home of the San Francisco 49ers. Hess compares the "starkly utilitarian," 68,500 seat stadium to Silicon Valley's high tech environments, and even to its high-end gadgets. The building "translates the high-def experience of a game we see on TV—the roaring crowd, the superhuman action of the players, the intense color of the grass under the TV-studio lighting, the camaraderie of loyal 49ers fans celebrating (or commiserating) en masse—into an enormous three-dimensional architectural spectacle," Hess wrote. Innovations include club seats (including 170 luxury suites) separated from the rest of the stadium bowl (and a lacy steel skeleton) to bring everybody closer to the field; food service via every smartphone; and a variety of viewing environments, including nine clubs. Of course it's all located inside Santa Clara's Great America Parkway, a "multiuse city of workplaces, entertainment, theme parks, convention center, schools and hotels, stitched together with light rail and cars." Other outlets seem to be equally impressed, at least with the stadium's novelty and gizmos. Time magazine called the stadium the "most high tech sports stadium yet," illustrating partnerships with tech companies like Sony, giant LED displays in both end zones, and wifi and 4G access for all fans. USA Today called it "massive and luxurious," a shiny new antidote to "grungy" Candlestick Park, the Niners' former home, with its "wide concourses and expansive views of the South Bay." And SFist, a little bothered by the lack of shade, liked the solar panels that will power the stadium for all of its home games. But the same reporter, Daisy Barringer, had an interesting comment. Unlike Candlestick Park, which had a decidedly unique mid-century character (and flaws), the new stadium feels a little more, well, normal. "It's just another NFL stadium," said Barringer. Click here for a live view of the stadium.
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel is reportedly considering a plan to boost capacity at Soldier Field, the city’s football stadium, in a bid to host the Super Bowl. But as the Chicago Tribune’s Blair Kamin laid out in a story Sunday, the play is a Hail Mary. Indianapolis’ new Lucas Oil Stadium, designed by HKS' Bryan Trubey [read AN’s Q+A with Trubey here], hosted the Super Bowl in 2012. Indy has also hosted the NCAA Final Four and the Big Ten football championship. The stadium, which holds 70,000 people under its retractable roof, has spurred nearby development and solidified Indianapolis’ position as a Midwest sports Mecca. The ability to seat 70,000 fans is considered a prerequisite for hosting the Super Bowl, so Soldier Field’s capacity of 61,500 falls short. Soldier Field is currently the smallest stadium in the NFL. But an additional 5,000 would still make the home of the Chicago Bears a tight squeeze for spectators of the country’s biggest sporting event. Emanuel told the Chicago Sun-Times’ Fran Spielman it’s also about other events:
“I know everybody looks at the Super Bowl. But, look at this hockey event [between the Blackhawks and Pittsburgh Penguins], which we started last year with college hockey. You look at two years ago when we had the Mexican soccer team here. We have Liverpool coming. These things not only sell out. They sell out fast. And it’s clear that you could do more, given these super events and they would be self-financing and self-sustaining.”Dirk Lohan, who led the master plan for the stadium’s expansion, told Kamin he’s not optimistic about the preliminary expansion plans. He said the original renovations had to balance capacity and preservation, leading to a design whose structural system could not be updated today without considerable expenses. [Read AN’s Q+A with Dirk Lohan in the upcoming March issue of the Midwest edition.] Architects Benjamin Wood and Carlos Zapata modernized 1920s-era Soldier Field in 2003, but the Bears’ desire to add more seating lost out to the city’s imperative to preserve Soldier Field’s historic colonnades. The $690 million renovation lost its National Historic Landmark status anyway in 2006. It’s unclear who’s studying the possible expansion for the Mayor, but whoever reviews the plan may have to lock heads with public scrutiny as intense as the stadium’s design challenges.
The glass, stone, and metal exterior of the Hatfield-Dowlin Complex evokes the strength and agility of a college athlete.The superhero and the Samurai. That’s where Zimmer Gunsul Frasca Architects (ZGF) began their design of the Hatfield-Dowlin Complex at the University of Oregon. The football player, the architects imagined, is like Batman: stealthy and strong, he came to his powers not by supernatural accident, but through relentless training. At the same time, the athlete is a highly skilled warrior, the modern-day equivalent of Japanese military nobility. The facade of the new football training facility materializes these ideas in glass, stone, and metal. Dominated by horizontal expanses of tinted glass, it is powerful but not foreboding. ZGF offers the analogy to a suit of armor: the building’s skin balances protection and connection, solidity and agility. The most direct expression of the armor metaphor is on the Hatfield-Dowlin Complex’s west exterior. In Eugene, the real solar challenge comes not from the south, but from the west, where the sun hovers near the horizon for long periods all winter long. To minimize glare, the designers placed a floating sunscreen across the western face of the building. Using elevation studies and interior models, they determined the optimal placement of a series of tinted glass panels held in an aluminum frame developed by Benson Industries. The result is seemingly random arrangement of overlapping rectangles, which ZGF’s Bob Snyder likened to scales on a Samurai’s costume. On the other three sides of the building, ZGF installed a curtain wall of fritted, triple-pane insulated glass units supplied by SYP. The frit pattern was inspired by the nearby John E. Jacqua Academic Center for Student Athletes, which ZGF also designed. The Jacqua’s facade comprises two layers of glass, five feet apart with a stainless steel wire screen in between. At the Hatfield-Dowlin Complex, the designers achieved a similar texture on a single layer of glass. “We saw that as a microcosm of the five-foot wall [at Jacqua],” said Snyder. The frit pattern was developed to be visible from both outside and inside the building, and to suggest movement as one passes along the facade. The final components of the Hatfield-Dowlin Complex exterior are stone and metal cladding. ZGF chose granite and basalt from Western Tile & Marble, which was treated with water jets for a striated texture. The designers used stone primarily on the first three floors of the building. “We established that as the stone zone, we wanted the weight of that material, the high durability of that material down low where folks would come into contact [with it],” said Snyder. Above, the stone transitions to aluminum panels for a lighter feel. “We worked with [Streimer Sheet Metal Works] to get the tightest radius we could get on the ribs of the metal panel,” explained Snyder. “We really struggled with that material [to make it] as fine as the stone, so it didn’t look like you were wearing tennis shoes with your tuxedo.” Plate-steel fins at the mouth of the parking garage and near the entrance sidewalk suggest the hard back of a dinosaur—yet another reference to armor. For Snyder, the combination of materials on the building’s facade achieve a balance between groundedness and ambition. Like the athletes inside it, the Hatfield-Dowlin Complex remains tied to the earth even as it appears to float above it. “The idea is that to be really good at football, you need to be right on the edge,” said Snyder.
Self proclaimed “Shipping Container Architects,” Boxman Studios, have teamed up with marketing agency Advantage International and Hyundai to bring modular, prefabricated architecture to pre-game parking lots across the country. Consisting of three shipping container units, the 1500 square foot Hyundai Field House will be traveling to 25 different college campuses to provide a flexible environment for tailgating festivities. The custom-built containers were crafted from recycled materials and outfitted with bean-bag chairs, barstools, couches, and six HD monitors. The structures’ modular design allow them to be adapted to various campus climates and grounds, from Texas to Ohio, as well as the branding of each team. Each of the three units can function independently, or work come together in a variety of forms to suit their environment.
Twin Cities sports fans may be most excited about Sunday’s victory on the field, but a twinge of that satisfaction could be due to the team’s new stadium. Minnesota’s Sports Facilities Authority chose HKS architects to design a new home for the NFL’s Vikings. HKS also designed Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis and Cowboys Stadium in their home base of Dallas—two of the most high-profile NFL construction projects in recent memory. A decision on the lead contractor for the project has yet to come down, but news of the $975 million stadium’s designer is the latest announcement in a long and at-times contentious political process that subsidizes professional sports in Minneapolis. Face-painted fans turned out to city council meetings as the deal cleared hurdles. With respected stadium architects on board, supporters may anticipate validation for their use of public funds. Those opposed maintain only time will tell, no matter the designer.
Vernon Davis the San Francisco 49er tight end who caught a spectacular pass in the end zone in the final seconds of Saturday's game with New Orleans is more than just a football player. Not only is he an avid curling fan and player (he was honorary captain of the Men's U.S. Olympic Curling team for the for the U.S. team in the 2010 Olympics) but he is also an interior designer. Davis is the co-owner of MCD or Modern Class Design along with music industry executive Antone Barnes. MCD focuses on designing interior spaces for "athletes and other clients that are suited to the client’s taste, but still affordable." He tells his athlete clients, “You don’t have to break your bank to live well and have style,” and "this moment won’t last forever, so plan for the future.” But Davis has more laudable goals for MCD. He wants to expand into inner-city communities across America and become involved in projects that will improve people’s lives. “I grew up in a rough neighborhood in D.C. and so did my business partner, Antone, who’s from Jersey City,” said Davis. “We were surrounded by graffiti and abandoned houses where there were no parks, and very few recreation centers or safe places to go. It shouldn’t be that way and we’re planning to change that with MCD, one project at a time.” He continued, “Living well should be available for everyone. That’s what MCD is all about.”