Posts tagged with "National Historic Landmark":

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Salt Lake Temple’s four-year renovation set to begin this year

“To some extent, buildings are like people,” said Russell M. Nelson, the 17th and current president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS). “Not only is the aging process inevitable, but it can [also] be unkind.” Nelson offered the metaphor in his speech at the 186th General Conference Session in April 2019 to announce that Salt Lake Temple, the largest LDS temple in the world, and the 10-acre Temple Square that surrounds it, will be closed to the public starting December 29, 2019, to undergo a four-year restoration. That series of upgrades that will make the site more accessible to the 3-to-5 million visitors the site receives annually. “This project will enhance, refresh, and beautify the temple and its surrounding grounds,” said Nelson. “Obsolete systems within the building will be replaced. Safety and seismic concerns will be addressed. Accessibility will be enhanced so that members with limited mobility can be better accommodated.” Members of the church called upon FFKR Architects, the largest architecture firm in Utah, to not only provide solutions to the temple’s structural issues, but to envision a combination of preservation, restoration, renovation, demolition, and new construction to be contracted by local company Jacobsen Construction. The formal temple entry point, for instance, will be improved with the addition of skylights that will provide sweeping views of the temple’s spires from the interior, and a new tunnel will be built underground to connect the Conference Center parking area with the temple’s grand hall. Though smaller existing buildings on the site will be demolished to make way for several features new to the grounds—including multiple temple entry pavilions, two visitor centers, and updated hardscaping and landscaping—the church has stated that all of the changes will be made with only the square’s original purposes in mind. “Efforts will be made to preserve the unique historicity of each temple wherever possible, preserving the inspiring beauty and unique craftsmanship of generations long-since passed,” said Nelson. “We will strive to preserve its reverent setting and character as originally directed by President Brigham Young.” To achieve a high level of fidelity in its preservation efforts, members of the local Church History Department were employed to perform research on the characteristics of the temple when it was first completed, including paintwork, murals, millwork, and furniture. Plans for the renovation began modestly when it was recently discovered that the 253,000-square-foot temple, first completed in 1893 by Thomas O. Angell, sits on earthquake-prone land and is in dire need of seismic and structural renovations. The last renovation, which took place between 1962-1963, included demolition of the original annex (due to its structural instability), the installation of all-new mechanical systems, plumbing, wiring, carpeting and light fixtures, and the redecoration of the entire building (Temple Square was officially designated a National Historic Landmark shortly after in 1964). It was determined that the upcoming renovation should include the replacement of the temple’s aging mechanical, electrical, and plumbing systems in their entirety while also implementing a significant seismic upgrade using a base isolation system that will take approximately a year to install alone. According to Brent Roberts, the church’s director of special projects, this will require placing hundreds of shock absorbers between the ground and the building’s footings and foundations. "It actually will now be the foundation of the temple, so when the earth moves, the base isolation system takes all that movement," Roberts explained. Base isolators have proven to be an effective safeguarding system for historic buildings and have even been employed in other historic buildings in the area, including The Salt Lake City-County Building, completed in 1894. “The base isolators take a lot of the energy out of a 7.3 magnitude earthquake,” said David Hart, the former executive director of the Capitol Preservation Board. “It's a really, really efficient way of reducing the force elements that are predicted to hit the building in a major earthquake.” As an extra precaution in the event of natural disasters, the temple’s iconic stone spires and walls will be strengthened while maintaining their original aesthetic character. Though Salt Lake Temple won’t open its doors again to the public until 2024, far-reaching efforts were made to make sure the construction process will not interrupt the regular functions of surrounding facilities and events. the church will ensure that there will be no street closures or impediments to pedestrian and vehicle traffic during construction, while the North Visitor’s Center and Salt Lake Tabernacle, a historic meeting hall on the western edge of Temple Square, will remain open for events.
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California's historic Gamble House is changing hands after more than five decades

After more than five decades of stewardship, it was announced on October 7 that the School of Architecture at the University of Southern California’s (USC) will no longer be managing Pasadena’s Gamble House, the exemplary Craftsman-style home designed by Greene & Greene in 1909 and designated a National Historic Landmark in 1978. Terry Tornek, the mayor of Pasadena, announced that the Pasadena City Council approved a transfer from USC to the Gamble House Conservancy, a group recently formed by the city. The university began management of the Gamble House when it was given to Pasadena in 1966, as the school had the means and resources to operate and preserve the home at the time. Though the recent announcement means that the university fell 33 years short of its commitment to manage the home for 99 years, the change of hands was made amicably. As a report from the staff of the Pasadena City Council states, there is finally “a significant endowment in place that allows the Gamble House to be self-supporting.” Additionally, the Docent Council of the Gamble House and the Friends of the Gamble House have together demonstrated the ability to manage the necessary fundraising and daily operations of the home without the aid of the university. “The USC School of Architecture believes this decision is in the best interest of the Gamble House,” the university announced in a statement, “and will help secure its status as an educational institution of benefit to the public.” Many aspects of how the Gamble House operates will remain unchanged after the transition is made official. The home will still be available for public tours, and the university will continue its resident scholar program, which allows two students per year to live temporarily within the home, while also having regular access to its meeting rooms and private facilities.
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The Los Angeles Coliseum undergoes a monumental renovation

Once known as “The Greatest Stadium in the World,” the Los Angeles Coliseum has played host to some of the most important moments in modern athletic history since it was first completed in 1923. As the host of the 1932 and 1984 Summer Olympics, the Coliseum became a National Historic Landmark while the 1984 Olympic games were being held. Every generation that has taken its hand at renovating the 18-acre Los Angeles Coliseum has been met with the same monumental challenge: to update every one of its essential features with a successful collaboration between architects, building engineers, and sound engineers. The recent renovation of the 96-year-old building, completed this year to the tune of $315 million, is the most comprehensive yet. The greatest challenge for DLR Group, the design firm hired to oversee the project, was to position a new seven-story tower within the iconic bowl structure while respecting strict historic preservation guidelines. The new building, named the Scholarship Tower, modernizes the Coliseum with features that have its VIP guests in mind, including an entire level of luxury suites, a year-round club lounge, and an expansive rooftop deck with unobstructed views. The insertion of the Scholarship Tower into the cast-in-place concrete structure required the study of a detailed computer model, which allowed the team to develop a unique brace system for each of the tower’s seven floors. In the event of an earthquake, the Tower would sway independently of the concrete structure which surrounds it. The viewing experience in the other parts of the Coliseum was improved as well: every seat within the bowl has been replaced with one that's two inches wider. Though this alteration and the inclusion of the Scholarship Tower reduced the number of outdoor seats from 93,000 to 78,000, the result will make the viewing experience significantly more comfortable during the Coliseum’s year-round events. In addition, every seat now has unobstructed access to a Wi-Fi hotspot, thanks to an elaborate network of wires and over 700 access points discreetly installed within the concrete underfoot. Given how unreliable wireless services can be in large crowds, the team found the labor involved in the construction of this network a necessity. With only very few of the original construction documents still intact, the task ahead of DLR Group was an uphill battle from the very beginning. Don Barnum, DLR Group principal and lead of the firm’s Sports Studio, said that when dealing with any historic preservation project, “a lot of things come into what makes it a historic landmark and it is not just a view. We have to maintain that integrity.” The task, no doubt, was all the more challenging when applied to the Coliseum, a building as large as a small neighborhood. When the Coliseum becomes the host of the 2028 Summer Olympics, its renovation will be strongly felt by its visitors while being nearly imperceptible to all those viewing the games from around the world.
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Pawtucket Red Sox reveal plans for a new $83 million ball park

The Pawtucket Red Sox, or the PawSox, as fans refer to them, unveiled plans for “The Ballpark at Slater Mill,” an $83 million, 9,000- to 10,000-seat venue that would not only replace the team’s current home, 75-year-old McCoy Stadium, but also serve as a year-round attraction for the town and an anchor for a recreation and tourism district next to historic Slater Mill, a cotton mill converted to a museum. The Pawtucket Red Sox are a minor league baseball team affiliated with the Boston Red Sox. With its proposal, the PawSox are following the lead of the Durham Bulls in North Carolina, the 51s in Las Vegas, and other teams demonstrating that minor league ballparks can be catalysts for economic growth and urban revitalization by anchoring larger commercial districts and sparking additional development nearby. D’Agostino Izzo Quirk Architects (DAIQ) of Somerville, Massachusetts prepared a conceptual design for the ballpark, which would mark a new gateway to Rhode Island for drivers traveling on I-95. The design would enable it to accommodate not only the ball club’s games but community events such as concerts, farmers’ markets, college football and ice skating. “It will be more than a ballpark,” said PawSox Chairman Larry Lucchino, in a statement about the proposed design.  “It will be a city park, open year-round." He added, "From a baseball standpoint, it would have Fenway Park’s playing dimensions, high tech innovations, and the PawSox’ tradition of affordable pricing. And importantly, it will take the franchise from financial uncertainty to stable financial condition.” Pawtucket Mayor Donald Grebien said, “Pawtucket has a unique opportunity to use the drawing power of a ballpark to serve as a catalyst in the redevelopment of our city. Pawtucket…needs this special catalyst.” With a population of 71,427, Pawtucket has been called the birthplace of the American Industrial Revolution. It’s also the birthplace of Raymond Hood, architect of the Chicago Tribune tower, who was Ayn Rand’s inspiration for Peter Keating, Howard Roark’s nemesis in The Fountainhead. Slater Mill is a local landmark and symbol of the town’s industrial past. Built in 1793, it was the first successful cotton weaving mill in colonial America. The mill closed in the early 1920s and was restored in 1925 as one of America’s first industrial museums. Designated a National Historic Landmark in 1966, it’s now part of a three-building campus and open for guided tours. The Ballpark at Slater Mill is not a done deal. The proposal is one of several options the team is considering because its lease for McCoy Stadium expires in 2020. The team needs funding support from the state legislature before it can move ahead and is awaiting action from state legislators. Working with Kansas City-based Pendulum, the PawSox have studied plans for upgrading McCoy Stadium, which opened in 1942 and is farther from the heart of town. According to one estimate, it needs $68 million worth of improvements. The PawSox say they don’t view that as a viable option because of the cost and the lack of ability to spur other investment. Another option is to leave Pawtucket and build elsewhere. Other towns have shown interest, including Worcester and Springfield, Massachusetts. The Slater Mill proposal is the team’s preferred choice, according to PawSox representatives. The team also announced this summer that it is working with Janet Marie Smith, a nationally recognized urban designer and planner and current senior vice president of planning and development with the Los Angeles Dodgers. Smith, who will remain in her position with the Dodgers while assisting the PawSox, said she has been asked to evaluate the team’s options for new construction and expects to have recommendations later this year.
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Buildings by Goodhue, Richardson and Vonnegut (yes, Vonnegut) among those named National Historic Landmarks

The novelist Kurt Vonnegut Jr. came from a family of architects, including grandfather Bernard Vonnegut I, a partner of Vonnegut & Bohn, and father Kurt Vonnegut Sr., who later joined the firm. Now one of his grandfather’s buildings, the Athenaeum in Indianapolis, Indiana, has been named a National Historic Landmark. The Athenaeum, by Vonnegut & Bohn, is one of 10 buildings or places that were named National Historic Landmarks this month, along with works by Bertram Goodhue and H. H. Richardson and a film studio and school associated with African American history. The designations, announced this month by U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell and National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis, recognize the properties as places that possess exceptional value and quality in illustrating or interpreting the heritage of the United States. They also mean that the properties will be added to the National Register of Historic Places, if they aren’t already listed. “These 10 new national historic landmarks reveal important pieces of our nation’s diverse heritage through art, architecture, and stories of community and identity,” said Jewell. The designation “ensures future generations can trace, understand and learn from these properties, which join more than 2,500 other landmarks nationwide.” During the National Park Service’s Centennial year, “we are celebrating the places that tell America’s stories, and these newly designated National Historic Landmarks recognize important experiences that help us understand our history and culture,” said Jarvis. The 10 National Historic Landmarks, with text and images from the designation announcement, are: Ames Monument, Albany County, Wyoming The Ames Monument is a pivotal and highly significant work in the career of Henry Hobson Richardson. The simple massing and naturalistic materials of the Ames Monument, designed midway through his career, are a pure manifestation of a critical shift in his architectural design away from a reliance on references to historical stylistic motifs. Athenaeum (Das Deutsche Haus), Indianapolis, Indiana The Athenaeum was the home of the Normal College of the North American Gymnastic Union for 63 years and the nation’s oldest, continuously active school of physical education. The program educated teachers who directly contributed to the development of physical education programs in public schools across the U.S. in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The foundation for the success in making physical education mandatory in public schools derived from the Turner movement, an important expression of German-American culture in the 19th century. Gaukler Pointe (the Edsel and Eleanor Ford House), Macomb County, Michigan Gaukler Pointe is a leading example of the mature work of landscape architect Jens Jensen, a foremost proponent and practitioner of the Prairie Style of landscape design. This country estate was Jensen’s largest private commission and represents a fruitful collaboration between the landscape architect, Edsel Ford, and architect Albert Kahn. Interior remodeling of the house by renowned industrial designer and Ford collaborator Walter Dorwin Teague in the 1930s further illustrates the Fords’ interest in modern design. James Merrill House, Stonington, Connecticut The James Merrill House is nationally significant for its association with one of the most significant American writers of the second half of the 20th century. Merrill had a long and prolific career; during his lifetime he published 13 collections of poems, as well as novels and plays, prose, and a memoir, which won every major award for poetry in the U.S. Over time, he introduced more radical material into his poetry, including well-crafted examination about homosexuality, art and spiritualism. He wrote with subtlety and sympathy of gay life, illuminating its anxieties and fulfillments. Man Mound, Sauk County, Wisconsin Man Mound is the only surviving earthen anthropomorphic mound in North America. The form of the figure emphasizes both the skill of its designers and creators and the importance of the entity depicted – most likely either a shaman or a Lower World human/spirit transformation – and thus represents a figure at the very heart of the effigy mound ceremonial complex. Mississippi State Capitol, Jackson, Mississippi The Mississippi State Capitol is a nationally significant example of Academic Classical Revival architecture, providing a remarkably vivid illustration of the nationwide spread of Academic Classicism following the World’s Columbian Exposition of 1893. Designed by St. Louis architect Theodore Link, the building is notable among state capitols for its unity of design and construction, having been built by a single general contracting firm, W. A. and A. E. Wells of Chicago, within a single three-year construction program. Norman Film Manufacturing Company, Jacksonville, Florida Norman Film Manufacturing Company is a rare, extant silent film studio and the only surviving race film studio in America; it never transitioned to sound production. Richard E. Norman used Norman Film Manufacturing Company as a location for the production and distribution of what were known in the early 20th century as “race films”: those that were made for African American audiences for exhibition in African American theaters and featuring African American actors. Race films featured African Americans in leading roles as agents of action and change. During the early era of film production, Florida, and in particular Jacksonville, was a “winter film capital” hosting a number of studios based in New York, and on-site facilities allowed year-round production of films. St. Bartholomew's Church and Community House, New York, New York St. Bartholomew’s Church is a pivotal example of the work of Bertram Grosvenor Goodhue and an outstanding example of early 20th-century ecclesiastical architecture. Begun in 1918 and completed in 1930, St. Bartholomew’s is a colorful Romanesque structure with Byzantine features and rich decoration. Goodhue’s masterful design is a successful realization of complex functional, aesthetic, and spiritual requirements: a harmonious setting for the Romanesque triple portal and the best spatial arrangement and distribution of masses in which all can see and hear the preacher, view the altar and participate in the service. The design is especially significant within the totality of Goodhue’s work leading to the final stage of his artistic expression embodied in the Art Deco style of the Nebraska State Capitol. The Steward's House, Foreign Mission School, Cornwall, Connecticut The Foreign Mission School (FMS) remains the first and last experiment in a domestically located “foreign” mission and represents educational and social politics concerning racial tolerance, Asian and Native American migration, and American identity in the early 19th century. The Steward’s House was part of a three-building complex that provided an evangelical education for over 100 students from approximately 30 different nations, primarily Asia, the Pacific Islands and North America. The interracial marriages of two FMS students with local white women evoked a substantial public response and brought early 19th-century assumptions about race-mixing into the open, providing a context for national conversations on race and religion in the early 19th century. Zoar Historic District, Zoar, Ohio Zoar was the only permanent home of the Society of Separatists in the U.S., a utopian society based in one location in the mid-to late-1800s. The Zoar Historic District expands the understanding of communal utopian societies in 19th-century America by representing a significant and distinctive community reflecting the traditional landscape design, architecture, and way of life inherent in the Society of Separatist’s world view and beliefs. Many of the intact 19th-century buildings reflect medieval building traditions transplanted by its German-American settlers as well as their customs, traditions and religious beliefs, including their varying attitudes toward gender equality and the role of women within the social and economic organization of these communities.
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A Vermont landmark by R. H. Robertson, the Old Dairy Barn at Shelburne Farms, destroyed by fire

Vermont lost one of its agrarian and architectural landmarks this weekend when the historic Old Dairy Barn at Shelburne Farms was destroyed by fire. The 1891 landmark at 989 South Gate Road in Shelburne was a key part of the Shelburne Farms complex designed by the noted architect R. H. Robertson. According to a message posted on the Shelburne Farms website by president Alec Webb, the cause of fire most likely was lightning from an early morning storm on Sunday. The building burned to the ground. “This is an incredibly sad loss to the historic fabric of this place,” Webb wrote. Shelburne Farms is a non-profit educational organization located on a tract formerly owned by the Webb family. Its campus is a 1,400-acre working farm, forest, and National Historic Landmark. Shelburne Farms acquired the Old Dairy Barn, the nearby Breeding Barn, and surrounding land in 1994 from the adjacent Shelburne Museum, according to its website. “The Barn has been structurally stabilized with a new roof, foundation, and beams,” the site states. Robert Henderson Robertson (1849-1919) was born in Philadelphia and designed numerous houses, institutional buildings, and churches, many in partnership with William Appleton Potter. His work included summer cottages in Newport, Rhode Island, campus buildings at Brown and Princeton, and tall buildings in New York City. His 1899 Park Row Building at 15 Park Row, for August Belmont, briefly held the title of being the world’s tallest building. Other Robertson commissions include: the Brown University Library; Witherspoon Hall at Princeton University; Alpha Kappa Lodge at Williams College, the Commodore Charles H. Baldwin House in Newport; the American Tract Society Building at 150 Nassau Street in New York; Engine Company 55 firehouse at 363 Broome Street in New York, and the main lodge at Camp Santanoni, a national landmark near Newcomb, New York. Shelburne Farms, his most comprehensive farm complex, includes Shelburne House, the Breeding Barn, the Farm Barn, and the Coach Barn. He also designed the Shelburne Railroad Station. Megan Camp, vice president and program director of Shelburne Farms, told the Burlington Free Press that the Old Dairy Barn was being used to store lumber and Shelburne Farms planned to renovate it to house educational programs. “Losing one of these buildings is like losing a family member,” Camp was quoted as saying. “You don’t replace a building like this.” Webb said in his message that all activities and programs at Shelburne Farms will continue as usual except for a historic barns tour on Monday, which was canceled. “We are very fortunate and grateful that no animals or people were harmed in the fire,” he wrote.  “It will take a while to assess the full impacts of the loss of this amazing building.” For more on the blaze, as well as images of the fire itself, see this Burlington Free Press article (page may have advertisements with noise).
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Right on trend, the oldest mall in America is reborn as micro-apartments

Search Twitter for #mallmonday and see a hilariously bleak photo series that profiles different malls, some dead, some impossibly sad, each week. Why are these depressing spaces so popular with architects? By giving new life to these huge, redundant spaces, architects tap into ruinophilia to feed a culturally ingrained desire for dramatic transformation and also temper the excesses of capitalism, maybe. In the Texas capital, Austin Community College annexed semi-vacant Highland Mall for a new campus, while NBBJ is reviving a dead mall in downtown Columbus. In Providence, Rhode Island, Northeast Collaborative Architects (NCA) handily combined dead mall revivification with micro-apartments, for an timely transformation of downtown's Arcade Providence, the oldest shopping mall in the United States. The 1828 Greek Revival–style mall was closed for the last three years. Designed by Russell Warren and James Bucklin, the three-story mall was America's first enclosed shopping arcade. In a $7 million renovation, Providence-based NCA turned the mall, a National Historic Landmark, into a mixed-use development with 17 retail stores on the ground floor and 48 micro-apartments on top. Apartments open out onto a shared walkway, an arrangement that would be penitentiary-chic if not for a skylit atrium. Unlike micro-apartments in New York, where market-rate rents at Carmel Place range from $2,540 to $2,910 per month, rents at Arcade Providence begin at $550 per month for a 225 to 450 square-foot one-bedroom, My Modern Met reports. (Two- and three-bedroom units are also available.) Those units come with a full bathroom, kitchenette, and a built-in bed with storage. Tenants have access to shared laundry, TV room, and game room, as well as bike storage, and parking. Right now, the only catch for prospective tenants is the 4,000 person waiting list.
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Remember the Triangle Fire Coalition gets $1.5 million state grant to build Richard Joon Yoo– and Uri Wegman–designed memorial

This year marks the 104th anniversary of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire, one of the most lethal industrial disasters in the United States. To the shock and delight of labor activists and descendants of workers who died in the fire, New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo announced yesterday that the state would provide a $1.5 million grant to Remember the Triangle Fire Coalition (RTFC) to build a memorial at 29 Washington Place, the site of the former factory. The grant, culled from state economic development funds, will cover the full cost of construction, the New York Times reports. The building that housed the factory still stands. Now owned by New York University (NYU), it houses some of NYU's biology and chemistry labs. Due to its significant place in labor history and the women's rights movement, the structure is a New York City and a National Historic Landmark. In 2013, New York-based architects Richard Joon Yoo and Uri Wegman won the memorial design competition sponsored by RTFC. Yoo has his own firm, Half & Half Architecture, while Wegman practices at Matthew Baird. Their design,“Reframing the Sky,” is sensitive to the historic architecture while bringing visibility to labor issues, past and present. The names of 146 victims will be inscribed on steel panels 13 feet above the sidewalk. At about knee height, a mirrored steel panel will reflect the etched names above before shooting up the side of the building to the eighth floor, where the fire originated. The lower panel will also feature a description of the blaze and its aftermath. The insufficient fire safety and emergency exit measures the disaster exposed strengthened the organizing of the International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union (ILGWU) and prompted building code and fire prevention reforms nationwide. Mary Anne Trasciatti, president of RTFC, stated that the organization will raise an additional $1 million to maintain the memorial. The money will also fund scholarships for the children of present-day garment workers and students pursuing labor history.
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Mies van der Rohe's Lafayette Park complex in Detroit was just named a national landmark

More than 50 years after its construction, the single-largest collection of Ludwig Mies van der Rohe's built work is now a national landmark. The National Park Service on Tuesday designated Detroit's Lafayette Park its 2,564th National Historic Landmark, validating the efforts of the Michigan State Historic Preservation Office, which began the documentation and nomination process in 2012. Quinn Evans Architects of Ann Arbor led those efforts as part of the preservation group's Michigan Modern Project. A collection of buildings in the now-ubiquitous International Style, Lafayette Park first cut its steel-and-glass silhouette across the Detroit skyline in 1959 with the completion of the Pavilion Apartments. More structures followed, including some which still command high rents today. As reports the Detroit Free Press:
The two-story Mies Townhouses are some of the more desirable pieces of real estate in Detroit, routinely fetching $150,000-$200,000 a pop for the three-bedroom, one-and-a-half bath units. The twin Lafayette Towers were added to the skyline in 1963. There are also a number of other buildings in the development designed by other architects, though they all follow Mies' lead.
The buildings received their landmark status in part for their racial integration—a rare example of urban renewal done right, according to Ruth Mills, architectural historian for Quinn Evans. Again, the Free Press' Dan Austin:
Indeed, U.S. Rep. "Charles Diggs, (Judge) Wade McCree, Judge George Crockett and others all lived in Lafayette Park," said Ken Coleman, an author and expert on black history in Detroit. "Even Berry Gordy had a condo there by 1965."
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Is expanding Chicago's soldier field a hail mary pass?

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.