Plans for the $1.3 billion gothic revamp of British soccer team Chelsea Football Club’s Stamford Bridge stadium in London have been shelved, according to a cryptic message posted on the club’s website citing “the current unfavourable investment climate.” First revealed in 2015, the Herzog & de Meuron-designed stadium would have replaced Chelsea’s current field along with the surrounding buildings, and put up a 60,000-seat replacement in its stead. Initially pegged as a $664 million project, costs rose as delays and lawsuits from homeowners and businesses who would be in the new stadium’s shadow mounted. The stadium’s defining feature (aside from the 20,000 new seats, all of which were promised unobstructed views) would have been the 264 brick buttresses ringing the field. The arches would form a covered loggia around the stadium’s central pitch, and supported a steel ring above the field, providing the structural supports for the additional seats, shops, a museum, and a restaurant. Both the brickwork as well as the black, wrought-iron detailing are less-than-subtle references to vernacular British architecture; Herzog & de Meuron described the vaulting design as a “cathedral of football.” The Guardian paints a more comprehensive picture of why the project was put on hold. Chelsea club owner Roman Abramovich, a Russian-Israeli businessman, has found himself caught in the crossfire of the worsening relationship between the United Kingdom and Russia. Abramovich has found himself unable to renew his investor visa, and as the delays mounted, the billionaire expressed frustration at the idea of investing in a country that was delaying his ability to do business. While Abramovich would still be allowed to stay in Britain, he technically wouldn’t be able to do any work there. AN will update this story as more information becomes available.
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When the Georgia Dome opened in 1992, its Teflon-coated fiberglass fabric roof was considered a modern marvel, stretching more than 395,000 square feet and weighing just 68 pounds. Atlanta's domed stadium hosted an impressive roster of sporting events in its 25 years of use, including three NCAA Men's Final Fours, two decades of SEC championships, two Super Bowls, two NBA seasons and an Olympics. Today, its new sibling, the Mercedes-Benz Stadium, offers perhaps more impressive engineering accomplishments and promises to draw impressive sporting events to the city. Completed in August 2017, the multi-purpose venue is officially the first LEED Platinum-certified professional sports stadium in the United States. Among other industry-leading features, Mercedes-Benz Stadium is notable for its kinetic roof structure. While other stadiums with retractable roofs must allocate additional land for the entire roof assembly to open horizontally off the stadium, Mercedes-Benz Stadium offers an innovative space-saving solution by breaking down the geometry of the roof into eight triangular petals which retract in a radial fashion. The petals are composed of three layers of ethylene tetrafluoroethylene (ETFE) membrane fabricated into air-inflated “pillows” involving more than 143,000 square feet of membrane. The lightweight material was selected for its durability and translucency. Each petal cantilevers approximately 200 feet inwards towards the center of the stadium on 16 secondary trusses which spring from four 720-feet-long primary steel trusses. This primary steel frame spans to concrete “mega-columns.” Nested within the steel framing of the oculus is the world’s largest media wall, an immersive six-foot-tall, 360-degree HD display covering over 63,000 square feet. Unrolled, the video board would stretch three football fields long. HOK worked with an integrated team of engineers from the start, coordinating information with a robust digital toolset that included digital modeling software. Custom algorithms and parametric modeling tools integrated the stadium’s complex geometrical layout with tens of thousands of pieces of information about the roof structure and its behavior and movement during various load scenarios. The project ultimately generated over 18,000 sheets of steel shop drawings, and during peak fabrication involved 32 factories in the U.S. and Canada making and delivering steel pieces simultaneously. The facade of the project is composed of insulated metal panels and a transparent ETFE facade, which has been marketed as a “window to the city” offering seamless visual connection to the surrounding context. ETFE in the wall assembly was fritted in a range of coverage from 20 percent to 70 percent in response to solar orientation. The composition of the angular wing-like wall panels abstractly reference the stadium’s National Football League team, the Atlanta Falcons. Beyond the Falcons, the stadium flexibly hosts Major League Soccer franchise, and is expandable for major events that the Georgia Dome used to host–Super Bowls, NCAA Final Four Basketball tournaments, FIFA World Cup matches, and major concerts and performances. To accomodate geometric differences between a soccer pitch and football field, lower level seats are retractable and an automated curtain system attached to the roof structure comes down to bring soccer fans close to the pitch. Several impressive planning decisions beyond the facade contributed to the stadium's LEED Platinum certification. Design elements of the building envelope which contributed to the stadium’s LEED Platinum certification include integrated rooftop solar panels, improved daylighting from use of ETFE, and passive cooling benefits from the retractable roof. Gus Drosos, technical principal of HOK's Kansas City office, said the consistency of the attachments of the ETFE system throughout the project and detailing of complex corners were specific successes of the building envelope design that offered valuable insight into working with ETFE and might carry over into future ETFE projects.Additional insight into the design and construction of Mercedes Benz Stadium will be offered at the upcoming Facades+ Atlanta, where a panel of architects from HOK, EcoWorks Studio, and tvsdesign will deliver presentations in a session titled, "Designing MBS: Secrets of the Mercedes Benz Stadium." For more information on the Facades+ conference series, along with registration information, visit Facades+.
Soccer fields, ballparks, and football stadiums are all designed to direct attention towards a central spectacle, but that doesn’t mean they all have to follow the same playbook. In a year where cities tried to integrate their stadiums into the surrounding urban fabric, developers and designers demonstrated new ways of thinking about how we imagine sports architecture. Designing for sports means thinking not only about withstanding the elements and the wear and tear of massive crowds, but also make sure the project stands the test of time. 2017 saw stadiums go to new, sometimes weird places, all made possible through creative engineering. Below are some of the best sports architecture projects that AN has written about this year. The Rams' Stadium dapples in the sun The swooping, biomorphic shape of the new L.A. Rams stadium is pierced by 20 million holes. Even though the whole thing is clad in metal panels, the breezy, HKS-designed arena will let fresh air blow through, hopefully solving at least some of the “hellish” conditions of the current coliseum. HOK’s oscillating Georgia Dome replacement A viral story about the Georgia Dome’s failed implosion couldn’t overshadow the opening of its replacement, HOK’s Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta. Crowned by an iris-shaped roof that can open or close in only nine minutes, the stadium features a host of innovative engineering applications that make it what it is. The multi-use, LEED Platinum certified stadium has certainly been recognized for it, too. The Oakland Raiders are leaving (to) Las Vegas Putting aside the Raiders’ controversial move from Oakland to Las Vegas, the stadium proposed for the team’s new hometown is light, airy, and undeniably football-centric. A step up from the 50-year old concrete coliseum that the Raiders share with the Oakland A’s, the approximately $2 billion project will focus solely on one sport. While the project broke ground just last month and is on track for the NFL’s 2020 season, that means three years of tension between fans while the Raiders are still in Oakland.* Bending it like Beckham in Miami This year new renderings were released for the stadium that soccer star David Beckham hopes will draw a pro-soccer team to Miami. After feedback over an initially bulky design, Populous unveiled plans for an open-air stadium with a soaring superstructure topped by a canopy. The most ground-breaking part of the stadium is that it won’t break ground on any parking lots, encouraging spectators to use the nearby Metrorail, waterways, and even a shuttle service from stadium-owned parking garages that could be built further away. Los Angeles goes European with their latest soccer stadium The Los Angeles Football Club (LAFC) teamed up with Gensler earlier this year to release their plans for a “European-style” soccer stadium where steeply stacked seating arrangements would put fans closer to the field than a traditional layout. Newly-christened as the Banc of California Stadium, the open-air stadium is ensconced around the edges by cavernous glass sections that will both keep viewers dry as well as house the lighting system. A focus on upscale interior finishes might not be the first thing that comes to mind when discussing a soccer stadium, but the LAFC hopes that these restaurants and commercial spaces will draw non-fans to the area as well. Tampa’s new-old skatepark wins over critics Skaters were outraged when Tampa demolished the Bro Bowl, a concrete skatepark that boarders had been tagging since 1978. Part of the city’s redevelopment of the Central Avenue drag, a compromise was reached where an exact replica of the park was built a few hundred feet away, with the original site being turned into a sculpture garden for works portraying prominent members of the African American community. With both Tampa’s African American community and the skaters up in arms at first, both sides have come to embrace the new developments.
Following the recent opening of Stantec Architecture’s first Wrigley Field-adjacent development in Chicago, the firm’s Colorado office is following suit with the announcement of a mixed-use project next to Denver’s Coors Field that will take up an entire city block. Because the West Lot project is aiming to better integrate the Coors Stadium into lower downtown Denver as well as supplement the stadium’s offerings, the project will be developed and paid for by the Colorado Rockies. Representing the last open parcel of land in downtown Denver adjacent to Coors Stadium, West Lot will occupy a full block between 19th and Wazee street, and directly connect to the stadium across the street. Referencing the way that arenas direct viewers’ attention to a centralized event, the project will use what Stantec refers to as a ground-level “context plaza” to both anchor the surroundings and offer amphitheater-style seating to the public. The landscaped courtyard will also thread through and connect the three buildings that curve around it. “The plaza is designed as a pre- and post-game gathering place for Rockies fans, complete with unique restaurants and state of the art audio and visual systems,” said Larry Weeks, principal at Stantec. The buildings on the three-acre site are a mix of glass and brick and include a double-height glass sky bridge complete with amenity space on top, with plans to project ongoing games on its underside. Other than the plaza, West Lot will hold an unspecified amount of hospitality, office, residential, retail, entertainment, and concessions space, in addition to a new Colorado Rockies Hall of Fame facility. Similar to the Wrigley Field developments, visitors will be able to seamlessly move between the stadium and the adjoining public space. “Beyond baseball, the plaza will serve as Denver’s ‘outdoor room,’ a year-round space that can accommodate neighborhood concerts, festivals and other activities,” said Daniel Aizenman, senior principal at Stantec. Currently undergoing the first steps of a government review, construction on the project is expected to begin in the second half of 2018, with no estimated completion date available.
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.
Brought to you with support fromLocated adjacent to the New York State Pavilion—the host of the 1964 World's Fair—the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center hosts the annual US Open Tournament, one of the oldest tennis championships in the world. In an effort to better utilize the sports campus, Detroit-based ROSSETTI developed a master plan to move the Grandstand Stadium to a far corner of the grounds. The relocation expanded USTA's leasable land into Flushing Meadows Corona Park. To mediate between this historic park setting and the tennis campus, ROSSETTI designed a unique exterior skin pattern that metaphorically evokes the translucency of leafy tree canopies and the twisting dynamics of the tennis serve. The material selected, a Teflon-coated fiberglass membrane, polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE), is typically used for roofing applications but in this case, a woven version allows for a more translucent breathable effect. The facade assembly is composed of 486 panels, totaling over 26,000 square feet, that fasten to a cable structure with parametric geometry. The system was designed with computational solver software to streamline design and constructability, ultimately saving an enormous amount of time and money in the project. Matt Taylor, design lead at ROSSETTI, said that early on in the design process, the team tried to mimic the faceted geometry of the structure, by ultimately ended up with a curvilinear form: "Even though this was a very complex facade, we had to simplify it to a point where it was repeatable, structurally feasible, and that the detailing could be economic enough to stay within budget." Pierre Roberson, a technical designer at ROSSETTI, led the effort to optimize and simplify detailing of the system. He said the structure of the building was not symmetrical but rather based on spline geometry with an infinite number of radii, and that the key to optimizing the facade was about producing a series of modular components that approximated the perimeter shape. Roberson split the spline of the ring beams into 16 equal segments, finding optimal radii for each segment. After optimizing the beam geometry, Roberson used Galapagos, a parametric tool in Grasshopper3d, to find an ideal strut length from over 1,000 of the individual panel supports. This process standardized the length and angle of the facade strut geometry, which allowed the team to provide models for the shop fabricators, who were able to attach connection points to the ring beams at the same angle. Early on in the process, working with PTFE manufacturer Birdair, ROSSETTI mocked up details using PVC pipes and in-house 3d-printed connection components to test and resolve details in full scale. This became a transportable design, presentation, and technical tool that allowed the connection between the PTFE panel and the steel strut to evolve into an elegant functional expression. Taylor said the mockups led to design changes through a collaborative process between the architect and manufacturer. "Birdair was great to work with—they were up to the challenge of this design." The actual fabric shapes were directed by Birdair’s dimensional and formal requirements. For example, a doubly-curved surface geometry is easier to tension than a standard planar surface. Also, by maintaining a specific dimension of 5-by-10 feet avoided the visual clutter of seams running through the panels. "We could have specified a large panel size and worked a secondary seam pattern onto the panels, but we thought this was a much more elegant solution," said Taylor, adding, "there's something really nice about the pedestrian scale of the panels."
On February 16, D.C. United was granted approval by the D.C. Zoning Commission for the construction of Audi Field, the MLS team's new $300 million stadium designed by stadia specialists Populous and local practice Marshall Moya Design. On February 27, this coming Monday, ground will break on-site at Half Street at 3 p.m. The process, however, hasn't all been smooth sailing. Although the five-member committee was unanimous in their decision, zoning commissioners Peter May and Michael Turnbull were reluctant in doing so. "I still do feel like this application left something to be desired," said May. "I am still disappointed in the design. It has been a disappointment all the way through. I hope it turns out better than expected." The stadium will be built at Buzzard Point near the Anacostia River. The site was determined four years ago, but issues raised by the Buzzard Point advisory neighborhood commission and the D.C. Department of Transportation induced delays. Problems relating to public space, retail, parking, and the environment were ironed out in December when the design went before commissioners; the stadium was then awarded prior approval at the time. Even then, however, Commission Chairman Anthony Hood remarked that "major work" was still required with regard to transport in and around the site. In response to neighborhood concerns, the soccer team will donate $50,000 to non-profit organization Breathe DC for the purchase of air purifiers, as well as put in place a bike sharing facility with parking for 447 bicycles. 500,000 square feet (total) of retail space is also now part of the development. Plans, though, are yet to be finalized for parking and traffic management when D.C.'s baseball team, the Washington Nationals, play a few blocks down the road. Aside from the concerns, Audi Field is due to open in 2018. The new stadium will boast a capacity of 20,000 and offer 31 luxury suites. The arena is set to host numerous sporting and cultural events, community activities, and concerts. "We are extremely excited to break ground on this site, a project that has been 21 years in the making," said Jason Levien, United managing partner. "Since Erick [Thohir] and I assumed stewardship in 2012 we’ve been on a mission to deliver to our fans and this community a new, permanent home." D.C. United currently play at the RFK Stadium, the area around of which is the focus of OMA's New York office for a major upheaval. The estimated $500 million proposal includes three ballfields (two for baseball, one for youth soccer), a 350,000-square-foot recreation and sports complex, and a 47,000-square-foot market selling groceries and concessions.