Posts tagged with "Sports":

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Archi-Tectonics designs major urban project for the 2022 Asian Games

For the 2022 Asian Games, the biggest multi-sport event second to the Olympics, New York-based architecture firm Archi-Tectonics has designed a net-zero sports park in Hangzhou, China. The 116-acre development, named Hangzhou Asian Games Park, was designed in collaboration with !melk Landscape Design and Thornton Tomasetti structural engineering. It is the largest project to date for Archi-Tectonics, representing over two million square feet of facilities woven together across a mile-long park, including two sports stadiums, fitness and visitor centers, a shopping mall, and 140,000 square feet of wetlands.

Winka Dubbeldam, the founder of Archi-Tectonics, has said that the design of Hangzhou Sports Park intends to fuse its landscape and building facilities as a way to anticipate its long-term use after the games take place three years from now. In an effort to reduce waste, the earth excavated during construction will be transformed into artificial hills throughout the site. 

The two sports stadiums are the most prominent features on either side of the park, one a 5,000-seat golden cylinder for tennis tournaments and the other a field hockey arena with a parabolic roof. The two stadiums are connected by a sunken shopping mall marking the center of the site, designed with a green roof that blends into its park surroundings. Described by the firm as a “below-grade retail valley,” the mall interacts with the preexisting Yiyang Road and River.

Hangzhou Asian Games Park broke ground in July 2019 and is scheduled to be completed before the Asian Games take place in September of 2022. To oversee the project, Archi-Tectonics opened its third office at the Architectural Design and Research Institute at Zhejiang University in Hangzhou (its first two are in New York and Amsterdam). In addition to the sports park, the Asian Games project will also bring new metro lines and inner-city railways.

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Nike to name Olson Kundig-designed Innovation Building after LeBron James

Oregon-based sportswear giant Nike announced that it will name its new Advanced Innovation Building after basketball legend LeBron James, who has been sponsored by the company since entering the NBA in 2003. The LeBron James Building will form part of the company’s newly expanded World Headquarters (WHQ) near Beaverton, just outside Portland, Oregon.

According to Nike, the LeBron James Building will play host to the company’s Advanced Innovation team, a group of scientists, designers, engineers, and other professionals whose work centers on sports science. The team is responsible for inventing products that will improve performance among athletes of all kinds, including professional players like James. Much of the team’s work will be completed in the Nike Sport Research Lab (NSRL), which will grow five-fold when the new building opens. Designed by Seattle-based architects Olson Kundig in collaboration with Mortenson Construction, the facility will also boast a full NBA regulation-sized basketball court, a 200-meter endurance track, an artificial turf field, and a 100-meter straightaway.

The most eye-catching architectural feature of the new structure is a massive overhang extending outward from the fourth floor, where the NSRL will be housed. The ceiling on the underside of the cantilever is composed of a waffle-patterned concrete slab—supposedly a nod to Nike’s history of material innovation. A 500-foot-long ramp stretches along one side of the building at a 15.63 percent incline, giving athletes a unique training environment on a largely hill-free campus. Portland-based landscape architecture firm PLACE is responsible for designing the grounds.

Slated to open in 2020, the LeBron James Building will join a number of facilities at Nike’s WHQ that are named after famous professionals from the sporting world. The sprawling Beaverton campus is home to a fitness center honoring basketball coach Michael Krzyzewski, an office building named after middle-distance runner Sebastian Coe, and a parking garage celebrating the sports teams of New York City. Nike will also debut the Skylab Architecture-designed Serena Williams Building next year.

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National Building Museum will showcase basketball courts around the world

Just in time for March Madness, the National Building Museum is set to present a photo series documenting private and community basketball courts across the country and abroad. HOOPS, opening on March 9, 2019, will showcase the work of photographer Bill Bamberger and a selection of shots from his 14-year journey searching for one-of-a-kind courts. Each of Bamberger’s “court portraits” is devoid of people, allowing the viewer to focus on the court’s surrounding context and basketball’s enduring appeal no matter where the game is played. The large-format color photographs show scenes from Arizona to Appalachia, Mexico, and South Africa, and reveal the unique ways in which courts are designed and constructed to tell the story of a particular community. Bamberger began the series in 2004 and has since taken nearly 22,000 photographs of courts worldwide. “I never photographed the players, finding that the ‘place’ spoke loudly about its users,” he said in a statement. “I could easily imagine the players, and in some cases I met them. But more often in the stillness of the court—photographed in early morning or late afternoon light—I came to know a great deal about a community, its character, and values.” HOOPS will be on view at the National Building Museum in Washington, D.C., through January 5, 2020.
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How city terrain affects runners at the world's major marathon sites

Looking ahead to this Sunday’s New York City Marathon where over 50,000 runners will traverse the city’s five boroughs, we’re thinking about the roles that topography and urbanism play in the world’s longest running courses. The Abbott World Marathon Majors is composed of six races in four countries, including three in the United States. Though all the host cities are highly-populated metropolitan areas, they vary in size and density and all feature distinct geographies that change the way runners battle through the race. TCS New York City Marathon In New York, runners cross three major bridges and power through the city’s undulating terrain, some of it flat and some of it extremely hilly due to the Manhattan schist that elevates the northernmost parts of the Big Apple. One of the features of this race, and every race within the World Marathon Majors, is that it gives people—not cars—the chance to take over streets and other major pieces of infrastructure. Now in its 48th year, the marathon starts at the edge of Staten Island. Runners get an initial high over the 13,700-foot-long Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge, a Robert Moses-backed project, and run north up 4th Avenue from southern Brooklyn to Greenpoint. After a brief stint in Long Island City, Queens dotted with shiny, new towering residential properties, runners cross the Queensboro Bridge and begin a six-mile jaunt through Manhattan, the Bronx, and back into Manhattan to the end in Central Park. As one of the world’s most walkable cities, runners will have plenty architectural distractions along the 26-mile route. But with a total ascent of nearly 853 feet and a maximum elevation of 195 above sea level, the long and swelling course in New York is not for the faint of heart.  Tokyo Marathon The youngest race in the World Marathon Majors, the Tokyo Marathon has existed since 2007 and features little change in elevation due to the city’s location on the coast of Japan. Rising to just 134 feet above sea level, but largely maintaining an average of 5 feet above grade, the extensive course zigzags through the heart of the city and across the Sumida River.   The race begins at the Kenzo Tange-designed Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building, a 48-story tower that, though surrounded by other gray-toned architecture, still maintains its identity as a landmark in Tokyo. The building resembles a giant, cathedral-shaped computer chip. The course heads directly east toward downtown Tokyo past the 19th-century Imperial Palace, then loops through Asakusa, home of the famous Buddhist temple, Sensō-ji, down to Koto, through Ginza, and the Shinagawa business district in Tokyo Bay. Runners will end the race by cutting through Hibiya Park and hitting Tokyo Station. It’s the only course in the competition where participants double loop the parts of the route. The Boston Marathon As the world’s oldest annual marathon dating back to 1897, the Boston Marathon is also New England’s largest sporting event, attracting over 50,000 spectators and 30,000 participants. The historic course runs straight through eight cities and towns in the Boston metropolitan area, starting on East Main Street in Hopkinton and following Routes 35, 16, and 30. Finishers cross into downtown Boston and end near the John Hancock Tower in Copley Square after largely descending in elevation from the top of the course. The long route allows runners to explore Boston’s Middlesex County and race by the scenery between each colonial town. Overall, the race is very hilly. The course begins at 450 feet above sea level and drops drastically, eventually resting around the 150- to 200-foot mark from miles 3.5 to 15. From Newtown to Brookline at mile 19, runners will climb the infamous Heartbreak Hill before descending to sea level in the last two miles. Bank of America Chicago Marathon Beginning and ending in Chicago’s own front yard, Grant Park, runners go through 29 neighborhoods in one large loop, with each of the city’s main stadiums set as turning points. As one of the most architecturally revered cities in the U.S., runners have the opportunity to pass by some of Chicago's stand-out structures and get a feel for its physical and cultural diversity. The 45,000 participants start the flat race in downtown Chicago, catching glimpses of Millennium Park, the mid-century Prudential Building, and the Loop. After crossing north up LaSalle Street to Lincoln Park, they’ll hit Wrigley Field at mile 8 before heading south to Old Town, which sports Chicago’s Victorian-era homes, as well as St. Michael’s Church, one of the only buildings still standing from before the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. In the industrial River North neighborhood, runners will fly by Merchandise Mart, home to galleries, as well as residential and design showrooms. On the West Side of Chicago, participants pass by the famous Union Station and St. Patrick’s Church, the city’s oldest public building, before hitting Little Italy, Pilsen, and all its wall murals, as well as Chinatown. Before heading back up Michigan Avenue to Grant Park, runners go by the campus of the Illinois Institute of Technology, which is next to Bronzeville, a place called the “Birthplace of the Blues.” In the historic Gap section of the neighborhood, Frank Lloyd Wright built a set of rowhouses. BMW Berlin Marathon Established in 1974, today’s course for the Berlin Marathon hasn’t always been in place. Before 1990, the race was held solely on the city’s west side. Just months after the fall of the Berlin Wall that June, participants were able to run through East Berlin with tears in their eyes. The course today is configured in a large loop. It starts at 38 meters above sea level and never rises above 53 meters. It’s largely flat and features very few sharp corners, making it one of the fastest long-distance routes in the world.   Runners begin at the neoclassical Brandenburg Gate in the historic Pariser Platz. They then head west through Grober Tiergarten Park before crossing the river Spree. Heading into East Berlin, participants loop through Friedrichshain, Neukölln, Kreuzberg, Schoneberg, and Steglitz, eventually going into Charlottenburg, and downtown Berlin. Because of the city’s stark past, Berlin is relatively young and many major developments are less than 30 years old. Runners will start in an iconic and old part of the city, but eventually stumble upon newer structures such as Norman Foster’s Reichstag building and Potsdamer Platz, the city’s main square with a masterplan by Hilmer & Sattler, and designs by Renzo Piano and Helmut Jahn. Virgin Money London Marathon Following the flow of the River Thames, the relatively flat London Marathon attracts amateurs, charity fundraisers, and serious runners from around the world. It started in 1981 and the slithery course—which begins in Blackheath, passes through Greenwich, and ends in St. James near Buckingham Palace—has barely been altered since the original race 37 years ago. Participants travel through two of London’s major parks, visit dockyards, the Royal Artillery Barracks, and file through the neighborhoods of Deptford, Surrey Quay, and Wapping after crossing Tower Bridge. While the Tube is arguably the fastest way to get around London’s sprawling metropolis, running this annual race gives visitors a chance to see the city at their own pace. Some of the city’s most notable developments are directly on or near the River Thames, such as the near-complete London Bridge Station that’s been in the works for eight years.
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Green Bay Packers unveils plans for a mixed-use community next to Lambeau Field

The second phase of Titletown—the Green Bay Packers’ redevelopment of the 45 acres west of Lambeau Field stadium—has been announced, and the area will soon be transformed into a live-work neighborhood. The first phase of Titletown, which was handled by the Packers’ development team, Titletown Development, brought a public park, hotel, restaurant, tech hub, and a sports medicine and orthopedics clinic to Green Bay, Wisconsin. Now, phase two will see a 150-unit rental apartment building, 70-to-90 purchasable townhouses in three different styles, and a 130,000-square-foot office building added to Titletown, turning it into a new neighborhood. The evolution of Titletown into a community shouldn’t surprise sports fans, as teams across the country have been converting the unused land around their stadiums into housing and additional amenities for their fans. Stantec’s Colorado office is raising a mixed-use block next to Denver’s Coors Field, the Chicago Cubs have raised their own office building and hotel next to Wrigley Field, and David Beckham’s Miami soccer park is slated to host a suite of non-soccer programming. Progress on phase two of Titletown is quickly moving along, with construction of the residences and the four-to-five-story office building expected to begin in spring 2019 and wrap up in the summer of 2020. The residential units will be built along the Brookwood Drive portion of the site, and Titletown Development said that the industrial material palette of brick, steel, and wood are homages to the history of northeastern Wisconsin. Seattle’s NBBJ has been tapped to design the apartment building, and the international KTGY Architecture + Planning will be responsible for designing the three different townhouse styles. The final look of the office building, expected to hold up to 400, hasn’t been finalized yet but Wisconsin-based Commercial Horizons, also an investor in the project, will be responsible for the design. From the renderings, it seems that a terraced plaza will also be joining these new developments, creating a stepped, public park for residents, visitors, and passerbys. Sports fans should act fast, as reservations for the residential units will open up later in this football season.
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The US Open starts a new chapter in its architectural history

Though the US Open has been hosted at its current complex for 50 years, the tournament itself has been going on since 1881, meaning there’s a rich backstory about where and how America’s Grand Slam has evolved. This year marked a new chapter in the tournament's history as the new Louis Armstrong Stadium opened for play, ending a five-year renovation project of the site's currently facilities. Here’s a brief history lesson in the architectural layout and legacy of the world-renowned United States Open Tennis Championships. Luckily for tennis lovers, all of these spaces are still playable today. International Tennis Hall of Fame, Newport, Rhode Island Perhaps the oldest and most prominent tennis facility in the United States, this ancestral home of the US Open welcomes players from all over the world to its historic grass courts and Victorian-style clubhouse. Formerly named the Newport Casino, the facility was designed by McKim, Mead & White in 1880 and was the center of the city’s society in its heyday. Upon opening, it hosted the first U.S. National Men’s Singles Championship in 1881. When the tournament outgrew its Newport location in 1914, it was relocated to the West Side Tennis Club in Forest Hills, New York, eventually evolving into what we know today as the US Open. When the site was in danger of demolition in the 1950s, it was repositioned as the International Hall of Fame and later became a National Historic Landmark in 1987, preserving a shining example of American shingle-style architecture. West Side Tennis Club, Forest Hills, New York This 125-year-old tennis club was founded not long after the Newport Casino opened in Rhode Island. Established in 1892 in its original Upper West Side location, the club built out its current facilities in Forest Hills in order to accommodate its growing membership. The grounds were set within Forest Hills Gardens, a 175-acre community designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr. Overlooking the courts is a stunning Tudor-style clubhouse built to complement the surrounding Georgian and Tudor homes. The United States Lawn Tennis Association National Championship moved the tournament to the West Side Tennis Club in 1915, where it continued every year until 1977. Today, the club boasts 38 tennis courts of varying surfaces including grass, hard, red clay, and Har-Tru, as well the 13,000-seat Forest Hills Stadium, the country’s first arena featuring a concrete facade. Today, the stadium hosts a celebrated summer music series along with other arts events. A junior Olympic-size swimming pool and paddle tennis courts are also included on site. USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, Flushing, New York Located three miles north of the West Side Tennis Club, this 46.5-acre complex has been the current home of the US Open since 1978. It was initially called the USTA National Tennis Center but was later rededicated in 2006 to women’s tennis champion Billie Jean King. The campus is set within Flushing Meadows–Corona Park and today features 33 courts including three mega-arenas: Arthur Ashe Stadium, Louis Armstrong Stadium, and the Grandstand. The latter two structures exclusively held the Open matches until Ashe was built in 1977. After rain delays majorly halted play during from 2008 to 2012, the USTA created a master plan to rebrand and solidify the entire complex ahead of the tournament’s 50th anniversary in 2018. This $600 million overhaul included demolishing the 54-year-old Armstrong Stadium, which was originally constructed as the Singer Bowl for the 1964-65 World’s Fair. A new, 14,000-seat structure was built from scratch in its place, opening this summer just in time for play. The multi-year renovation project, led by Detroit-based firm ROSSETTI, also included a new show court for the 8,000-seat Grandstand featuring a translucent skin that wraps around the facility. Most notably, two new PTFE retractable roofs now top Armstrong and the 23,771-seat Ashe Stadium where the major matches are held. The flexible roofing systems, which can open and close in five to seven minutes, now allow games to go on rain or shine.
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Check out these eight unmatched tennis courts from around the world

Tennis courts may be universally designed in the same way, but their topographic location can change the entire look and feel of playing the great game. In honor of the US Open, we’ve rounded up some of the world’s most architecturally impressive courts. From the ever-imaginative buildings within the United Arab Emirates to the secret spaces of Paris, these amazing athletic facilities placed in unbelievable settings feature inspired designs that date from present day, all the way back to the late 19th century. Take a scroll and let your sporty side roam around the globe with these ace spaces: The Couch, Amsterdam, The Netherlands The IJburg Tennis Club near Amsterdam houses 10 clay courts, a tennis school, and a temporary communal building with integrated rooftop seating designed by Dutch firm MVRDV. Acting as a giant piece of street furniture, the red-sprayed concrete structure features a curvaceous roof that dips down towards ground level on the south side, while the north side rises 23 feet high, allowing for bleacher-like seating overlooking the courts. The wood-clad interior boasts ample natural light thanks to wide glass that spans the front and south sides of the building. Burj Al Arab Tennis Court, Dubai, U.A.E. Twelve years ago, Andre Agassi and Roger Federer held an exhibition on the helipad of the Burj Al Arab, the third tallest hotel in the world. Designed by Tom Wright of WKK Architects, the structure stands like the sail of a ship at 1,053 feet tall. The helipad covers 4,467 square feet of space and a grass court was laid out across it for this one-time match. Since its completion, the site has been home to other iconic sports moments: Golfers Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy teed off of the helipad in separate years while Formula One racecar driver David Coulthard performed donuts on the surface in 2013. Dubai could also soon build the world’s first underwater tennis complex off its coast in the Persian Gulf, a vision by Polish architect Krzysztof Kotala, founder of 8+8 Studio. La Cavalerie Tennis Club, Paris Set on the sixth floor of an art deco building with an Aston Martin dealership at its base, this hidden tennis club sports weathered wood paneling and a dramatic, honeycomb-style arched roof. The building itself, designed by famous French architect R. Farradèche in 1924, includes a close-up view of the Eiffel Tower which can be seen from the balconies of the club.  The hard court was established as a national monument in 1986 and features 1,400 pieces of wood that shape the parabolic interior design.   Astor Courts, Rhinebeck, New York This private tennis pavilion is situated within the historic upstate guesthouse and casino of John Jacob Astor IV. Designed in 1902 by Stanford White, the indoor and outdoor sports complex included squash courts, a bowling alley, a shooting range, and an indoor swimming pool. It was designed in the style of the Grand Trianon, a château found at Versailles in France. After being purchased by its current owner in 2003 for over $3 million, PBDW Architects rehabilitated the 20,000-square-foot mansion where Chelsea Clinton and Marc Mezvinsky were married in 2010. Infinity Court, Los Angeles, California Located at the John Lautner-designed Sheats-Goldstein House, this seemingly floating tennis court provides spectacular, sweeping views of Los Angeles. The house is currently owned by the colorful real estate investor, NBA lover, and fashion designer James Goldstein and was recently acquired by the L.A. County Museum of Art as its first-ever architectural acquisition. When Goldstein bought the property in 1972, he began working with Lautner on several updates and additions to the house. The on-site, infinity-edge court was designed atop a three-level entertainment complex built in collaboration with Lautner’s colleague. It features a glass partition barely visible from the other side of the outdoor space. Tennis Courts at the SLS Lux, Miami, Florida Arquitectonica’s design for the just-completed SLS Lux Brickell Hotel and Residences in South Beach includes a multi-use sports center atop the ninth floor of the 57-story tower. Tennis courts, a rock climbing wall, as well as spaces for volleyball, basketball, and more, allow the residents of the building’s 450 luxury condos, 12 penthouses, and 84 hotel rooms an opportunity for ample play. The base of the building features a colorful, 40,000-square-foot mural on its exterior by Fabian Burgos, a world-renowned Argentinian artist who creates optical designs for architecture. Vanderbilt Tennis and Fitness Club, New York City, New York Since the 1960s, a secret has existed within the walls of New York’s famed Grand Central Terminal: It houses a secluded tennis club. For over ten years, city dwellers could pay to play at the original Vanderbilt Athletic Club, founded by Hungarian athlete and refugee Geza Gazdag. The club housed two clay courts and a 65-foot indoor ski slope built on the third-floor Annex of the train depot. Since Gazdag was priced out of his lease, the coveted piece of real estate began a fraught history of ownership. Donald Trump took it over for three decades, turning it into an elite club for the city’s wealthiest tennis fans. Once his lease ran out in 2009, the space became a lounge for the Metropolitan Transit Authority and new courts were built on the fourth floor where current owner Anthony Scholnick manages the facility.
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Michael Graves and Landscape Forms create a new "courtscape" for the US Open

To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the US Open, Michael Graves Architecture & Design (MGA&D) teamed up with Landscape Forms to redesign the courtside furniture that takes center stage during the upcoming two-week tournament. The United States Tennis Association (USTA) unveiled its sleek new “courtscape” earlier this week at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadow, Queens.   The new furniture, a collection featuring seating for the players, umpires, and line judges, as well as a “cooler corral,” is part of the US Open’s major rebranding effort. Not only were the designs created to maximize ease of use for those on the court, they speak to the organization’s goal of making a modern, iconic look for the tournament and its New York location. Before crafting the collection, MGA&D met with everyone involved in the US Open from players to officials, fans, sponsors, broadcast partners, and tech crews. Through their research, the design team concluded that the furniture must address three primary goals: visibility, usability, and functionality. As inspiration for the design, they took nods from the landscape of New York City such as its park benches (seen in the player’s seating) and the cantilevered balconies found on buildings (seen on the umpire stand). MGA&D used virtual reality technology to help USTA stakeholders realize their vision. The team then worked with Michigan-based Landscape Forms, who specializes in high-design site furniture and advanced LED lighting, on the engineering and manufacturing of the collection. The group’s custom division, Studio 431, created seating products with thin profiles and graceful curves using perforated steel and aluminum surfaces as the primary materials. These lightweight but durable products are now prominently featured on four of the show courts at the tennis center in Queens. Donald Strum, MGA&D principal of product design, helped lead the project. He said this unique opportunity to create a courtscape for the USTA was one of the most satisfying projects he’s ever worked on. “Seating should express utility, be comfortable, and carry a beautiful personality as well,” said Strum in a statement. “The various performance requirements of this collection made the project endlessly fascinating.” All the courts at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center will be outfitted with the new furniture next year ahead of the 2019 championship.  
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Nike's Just Do It HQ sports a glorious renovation inside a Chicago church

It’s no secret that Nike has an eye for design. From advertising to athletic wear to sports equipment and more, the company’s signature style has mass appeal and is easy to spot, but it's easy to forget the company's knack for creating serious interior design. Nike’s new New York headquarters, completed last year by its Workplace Design + Connectivity team in collaboration with Studios Architecture, got global attention for its slick look, but the brand’s newly built-out basketball space in Chicago is just as impressive. The Just Do It HQ, a basketball facility set inside a church dating to 1885, is quite glorious. Nike transformed the Church of Epiphany in Chicago’s West Loop into a state-of-the-art cultural hub and a home for a youth summer training program. Throughout August, Nike will host camps for young athletes and offer interactive youth workshops, pro athlete appearances, and skills clinics. The space itself is a modern and bold design outfitted with a basketball court, sports gym, and locker room. Nike added a color scheme of blue, orange, and white that runs throughout the three programs and created stained glass windows with basketballs carved into the center. Arched, metal frames were also placed in front of windows in certain places, diffusing the light and further connecting the gritty theme found throughout the aged church. The stained glass basketball design is also painted at the center of the court. Other contextual elements kept throughout the facility include the open, vaulted ceilings as well as the arched doorways and shelves. Nike’s Just Do it HQ is open Monday through Saturday throughout the end of this month. Kids can sign up to participate in the camps by registering online.
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Can a volleyball bar change Houston?

Houston is a city that revels in the intersection of event and space—it certainly has an abundance of both. Adjacent to one of Houston’s meandering and often overflowing bayous in what was once an empty lot turned parking lot, Sideout Volleybar responds to the city's social pressures and urban conditions. This volleyball social club opened in the Northside neighborhood in June 2017 and combines casual sports, bright lights, and beer. AN contributor Jack Murphy and I decided to do a bit of participant observation on a recent Wednesday and headed over for burgers and beer. Sideout has three courts lined on two sides by a covered observation porch along with a bar house, a bean bag toss court, a dog area, and a food truck parked outside. “It’s like an athletic Ice House,” Jack observed, referring to the open-air beer joints that have long dotted the city. The comparison to the classic Houston outdoor bar is apt in that everything feels so provisional, as if the wood-framed decks could quickly be dismantled and the carpet of sand rolled up if business got too slow. The bar itself is not much more than a converted bungalow with a slab of wood in the space once occupied by the living room sofa. There was an effort to cover every surface with some choice of bright yellow, millennial pink, or a color I can only describe as greenish. The lighting is simply the parking lot pylons poking out of the sandy courts, which were installed on top of the parking lot surface, like a Houston version of “Sous les pavés, la plage!” This particular evening was both a trivia night and a league night, so the jarring patter of trivia questions layered over the chatter of various teams on the courts, all atop the soundtrack of greatest hits from the early 1990’s. The music of 311 was on heavy rotation. It was a ball. Sideout is a bar for beach volleyball and this seemed simple enough. The venue calls itself a “volleybar,” but the place is alive with activity: What we discovered was a veritable volleybar ball. “I think we are in the 1 percent of people not wearing an obnoxious league shirt,” Jack comments. The team players wear generic loose-fitting league T-shirts, distributed by Houston Sports & Social Club. For expediency, the graphics on every shirt are the same, so the 20-odd teams are differentiated by a range of colors that evokes a middle-school summer day camp. What is illustrative to the architect in this situation is that what is happening is really an event-based urban choreography. Houston is a city of unparalleled diversity with very few circumstances that allow for the public to appear together—but here, people come in droves. By our rough count, there must have been nearly 200 players at any given time in the complex: trivia sharks, volleyball players, dog-walkers, and even a few just plain barflies. I can’t help but imagine the league T-shirts as some type of Situationist uniform à la Constant’s Homo Ludens. Will Thomas, one of Sideout’s owners and a local musician, cited many of the Tex-Mex establishments of his youth and their “organic informality” as his inspiration for the place. Thomas is a partner in W2 Development, a company responsible for many of the recent commercial developments in the neighborhood. Nearby, there is a new metro light rail stop, the White Oak Music Hall, designed by Schaum/Shieh, a dramatic bridge over a river (a bayou, upscaled), and a hike and bike trail in the works, all set in a loose assemblage that doesn’t quite amount to an urban system until you see it activated through its events. Whether it’s an outdoor concert, a cinema screening, or, of course, league night at the Volleybar, each time you visit, you might find yourself in what feels like a different city. If you don’t mind the sartorial constraints of the league T-shirt and would enjoy the feeling of standing at the center of a sociality you can’t quite perceive the edges of, then come over to the Sideout Volleybar. If bumping, setting, or spiking isn’t your thing, then at least you will find a unique place to imbibe and watch the sun set against the Houston skyline.
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Tampa Bay Rays reveal plans for a pillowy Populous ballpark

Move over Jacksonville Jaguars, the Tampa Bay Rays are the latest Floridian sports franchise to build big. The baseball team announced last week that it would be pursuing plans for an ambitious, $892 million ballpark in Tampa designed by Populous, but details of how the team would pay for the project are still scarce. Tropicana Field, the Rays’ current home in neighboring St. Petersburg, is the MLB’s smallest and the Rays frequently measure dead last in average home field attendance rates. The Rays have conceded a new stadium isn’t technically necessary, but they want to use the new scheme to drum up attendance and enthusiasm. The stadium has been proposed for downtown Tampa’s nationally landmarked Ybor City district, about 20 miles from Tropicana Field. Despite the price tag, the new ballpark would remain the smallest in the league and only seat approximately 30,000, about the same as the Rays’ current home. Capacity isn’t the potential ball park’s draw; that lies in the location and more exciting design. The proposed ballpark’s most distinctive features are the dramatic tilt and swoop of the roofline and the non-retractable glass dome that would enclose the field, reminiscent of Buckminster Fuller’s Dodger Dome. The structural cross-bracing on the underside of the translucent dome would resemble a coffered ceiling when seen from below. Clear glass panels would rise closer to the outfield and meet the lip of the dome as it wrapped around the building. A massive sunshade has been proposed for the backside of the roof, where most of the seating would be. The glass ceiling alone is projected to cost around 30 percent of the project’s nearly $900 million budget. The Rays would also create a multi-level retail podium around the ballpark’s base, with the field itself sitting in the middle and anchoring the development. The buildings at ground level would feature sliding glass walls capable of retracting during nicer weather. The principal owner of the Rays, Stuart Sternberg, explained to the Chicago Tribune that the move was part of the team’s attempt at leaving a legacy in Tampa, which is why the new plan bucks what might be expected of a stadium proposal. The team has admitted that the renderings are, in part, designed to drum up public and private investment in the new stadium. The team will reportedly contribute anywhere from $150 to $400 million to the project depending on whether they can secure a naming rights purchase, but taxpayers could ultimately be responsible for hundreds of millions of dollars in bond debt depending on how a deal shapes up. The Rays are aiming to open the field in time for the 2023 season.
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Snarkitecture swings for the fences with All-Star Game installation

The 2018 Major League Baseball All-Star Game in Washington, D.C. may have already passed, but the MLB Assembly, a weeklong collection of art, architecture, fashion, and food projects centered around baseball, is worth revisiting. New York-based Snarkitecture contributed to the Assembly, which ran from July 13 through July 16, with their Field installation. Visitors to the Wharf’s District Pier were greeted with a rising forest of baseball bats supported on white plinths and arranged into four diamonds that referenced the layout of a baseball field. At the beginning of Field’s four-day installation, 1,100 baseball bats were mingled with 200 billets, or unfinished raw wood cylinders. A woodturner was stationed in a booth behind the installation and using a lathe, they converted the billets into fresh bats. The project was envisioned as an interactive exhibition, where visitors would enter the rising arrangement of baseball bats and uncover the performance on the other side. Field was constantly evolving and on the last day of the exhibition, the billets had all been swapped out for finished bats. Field was not the only immersive Snarkitecture installation available to those in D.C. Fun House, the sprawling 10-year retrospective of the firm’s work, is on display in the lobby of the National Building Museum for the rest of the summer, and the same sense of spontaneity brought to Field permeates that show.