San Jose Mercury News columnist (and frequent AN contributor) Alan Hess took on HNTB's Levi's Stadium, the new $1.3 billion home of the San Francisco 49ers. Hess compares the "starkly utilitarian," 68,500 seat stadium to Silicon Valley's high tech environments, and even to its high-end gadgets. The building "translates the high-def experience of a game we see on TV—the roaring crowd, the superhuman action of the players, the intense color of the grass under the TV-studio lighting, the camaraderie of loyal 49ers fans celebrating (or commiserating) en masse—into an enormous three-dimensional architectural spectacle," Hess wrote. Innovations include club seats (including 170 luxury suites) separated from the rest of the stadium bowl (and a lacy steel skeleton) to bring everybody closer to the field; food service via every smartphone; and a variety of viewing environments, including nine clubs. Of course it's all located inside Santa Clara's Great America Parkway, a "multiuse city of workplaces, entertainment, theme parks, convention center, schools and hotels, stitched together with light rail and cars." Other outlets seem to be equally impressed, at least with the stadium's novelty and gizmos. Time magazine called the stadium the "most high tech sports stadium yet," illustrating partnerships with tech companies like Sony, giant LED displays in both end zones, and wifi and 4G access for all fans. USA Today called it "massive and luxurious," a shiny new antidote to "grungy" Candlestick Park, the Niners' former home, with its "wide concourses and expansive views of the South Bay." And SFist, a little bothered by the lack of shade, liked the solar panels that will power the stadium for all of its home games. But the same reporter, Daisy Barringer, had an interesting comment. Unlike Candlestick Park, which had a decidedly unique mid-century character (and flaws), the new stadium feels a little more, well, normal. "It's just another NFL stadium," said Barringer. Click here for a live view of the stadium.
Posts tagged with "Stadiums":
In a power play for the world of arena architecture, HOK has announced it will acquire Kansas City's 360 Architecture. Their union marks HOK's return to the world of sports and entertainment facility design, possibly to compete with Populous, another Kansas City-based firm that spun off from HOK Sports Venue Event in 2008. HOK started HOK Sports in 1983, but that firm (now called Populous) no longer has any affiliation with St. Louis-based HOK. The global design firm's merger with 360 creates the largest architectural firm in Missouri. “Joining HOK enables us to take advantage of an exceptionally strong global platform and to expand our sports facility design practice while offering our clients additional expertise in other markets,” 360 Principal Brad Schrock said in a statement. “This also brings HOK, a global design leader in many building types, into the heart of Kansas City.” 360’s current projects include the Rogers Place arena for the NHL’s Edmonton Oilers, and a new stadium for the Major League Soccer’s San Jose Earthquakes. Major competitors for the new HOK sports design giant will likely remain Dallas-based HKS and Seattle’s NBBJ. The two had been short-listed to design a major new stadium for the Detroit Red Wings, but developer Ilitch Properties selected none other than 360 Architecture as lead designer and architect of record on that project. Meanwhile HKS is tackling a new Vikings arena in Minneapolis, while NBBJ fields Lexington, KY’s storied Rupp Arena.
An abandoned, decaying Miami stadium that once hosted the likes of Gloria Estefan, Elvis Presley, and Richard Nixon may finally be coming back to life. Since AN visited the 6,566-seat Marine Stadium last year there is new momentum to revitalize the iconic venue. And just as graffiti symbolized the stadium's decline, street art could help secure its future. PBS reported that Friends of Miami Marine Stadium—the group advocating for the 60s-era venue—invited 20 street artists from around the world to cover the space in murals. Why exactly? Well, the organization is now selling prints of those murals to draw attention to the building and raise cash for its transformation. And it turns out that initiative is strongly supported by the stadium's original architect—Hilario Candela. The revenue from those pieces, though, will likely only represent a small piece of the $30 million that needs to be raised before January. Estefan recently helped chip away at that figure with a gift of $500,000. To get a sense of what the stadium could look like if that $30 million goal is met, check out these conceptual renderings below from architect and designer Arseni Varabyeu.
Chicago’s Wrigley Field turns 100 years old this year. To many neighbors and architectural historians, however, the ballpark’s centennial celebrations are an afterthought to the real action: the years-long debate over how to update the landmark park without corrupting its beloved 1914 character. At a community meeting Monday, Lakeview residents expressed concern over proposals including five new outfield signs and two video scoreboards. The plan goes to the Landmarks Commission on Thursday, but local Alderman Tom Tunney said he will not support it. In 2013 Chicago’s Landmarks Commission laid out guidelines for Wrigley upgrades, which its owners and operators maintain are necessary to help pay off structural renovations and modernize the country’s second-oldest ballpark. But opposition has been strong from wary neighbors and the owners of adjacent rooftops, who say new signage will kill their business renting out their ersatz outfield seats. The plan debuted this week differs from the blueprint approved by Landmarks last year. Repeated delays and neighborhood opposition have scuttled plans from owner Tom Ricketts to add a Starwood hotel, 40,000-square-foot gym and open-air plaza in the areas surrounding Wrigley Field. Residents of Wrigleyville now face a dilemma: call Ricketts’ bluff over moving the team to suburban Rosemont, risking the loss of an economic engine, or cave on design guidelines they say are necessary to preserve the character and livelihood of their prosperous North Side community. Unsuccessful bids for development around Wrigley Field go back years. In 2010 developers proposed a mixed-use complex wrapping around the southeast corner of Clark and Addison Streets that never happened. Last year AN contributor Edward Lifson hosted a discussion at Moe's Cantina in Chicago with Elva Rubio, Bill Savage, Dan Meis, and Jonathan Eig “to discover why design matters (even if it might not help the Cubs win the World Series).”
Jamie Carpenter, the world-renowned architect who has left his mark on projects like New York City's Millennium Tower, Brooklyn Bridge Park, and others, recently revealed his latest work, Light Veil, at Dallas’ Cotton Bowl Stadium. The Cotton Bowl Public Art Project, a $25.5 million endeavor aimed at revamping the stadium, included a contest that Carpenter won out for equipping the stadium with a new facade. Carpenter’s design relies on the sole use of hanging mesh ribbons whose delicate strength elicits an ethereal effect. The facade is constructed out of uniformly spaced thin mesh ribbons, 2 feet wide and 50 feet long, that weigh in at a slight 80 pounds. Up close, the strong parallel lines impress with their connotations of durability, reliability, and uprising power—positive associate qualities for any sports stadium. From a distance, however, the impact is wholly different yet just as impressive. The ribbon’s interact with natural sunlight to create a shimmering front, hence the aptly named Light Veil. Some writers have dubbed Carpenter’s treatment as “gift-wrapped.” The phrase keys into the fact that the design’s simple elegance delivers a surprise no matter which way you turn. Carpenter’s work delights in the interplay between light and glass, and could be considered a signature trait of his work. “The brighter a material gets, the more solid it feels,” Carpenter has said, thereby highlighting the underlying paradox of the Cotton Bowl’s new face: how basic structural elements solidify the intangible in a very real way. The Cotton Bowl Project included adding more club seats, concession stands, and general clean up. The veil, which cost $8 million to complete and comes third or fourth in a trend of mesh facades, allows the audience to more fully experience the interplay between the sporting event, the stadium’s interior, and the city beyond.
A lack of a viable stadium had been seen as a key hole in Miami's efforts to welcome a Major League Soccer franchise. Now local firm Arquitectonica has stepped in to fill that void, collaborating with 360 Architecture to design a potential waterfront soccer venue. The campaign has a rather dashing face in the form of soccer-star David Beckham, who has provided vocal and financial backing for the plan and apparently played active role in the design concept and siting of the proposed stadium. Beckham asked the architects to embrace the notion of water and beach as key elements of the idea of Miami, a consideration that seems to have manifested itself in the wavy amorphous forms of the building. Arquitectonica principal Bernardo Fort-Brescia sees the stadium as a cog in the ongoing development of the Port of Miami, which was selected from a list of 30 locations under consideration. Hotels and office buildings are other new additions seen flanking the stadium in preliminary renderings. Realization of the team is still a ways away, but co-owner Marcelo Claure set an optimistic 2017 date for an MLS debut. Despite the renderings, a waterfront address is no guarantee as negotiations regarding stadium locale are ongoing with Miami-Dade County and Mayor Carlos A. Gimenez. The city's entry will be preceded by Northern neighbors Orlando, who plan to have the woefully-named Orlando City SC ready to join the league by 2015. New York is also set to welcome a second team next year, though their search for a permanent home has been beset by controversy. Delays may force the team to debut in a temporary venue while more lasting arrangements are made.
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.
Spanish soccer franchise Real Madrid has revealed plans for a drastic reshaping of its iconic Santiago Bernabeau stadium. The plan entails sheathing the existing structure in a curvaceous titanium facade that will also add a hotel, a shopping and leisure center, and an underground car park. The new skin also adds a retractable roof to the stadium. German firm GMP Architekten will be heading the project joined by locals L35 Architects and, in a crossing of party-lines, Barcelona-based Ribas & Ribas. The lines of the exterior are meant to respond to shifting sunlight patterns by day and play host to LED light displays by night. One amorphous face will act as a screen for large-scale media projections. The innermost portion of the new roof will be translucent, allowing natural light to filter onto the playing surface and past the 360° screen that hangs directly beneath The included hotel is set to feature rooms offering direct views of the pitch. L35 managing partner Tristán López-Chicheri claims that the club's history of recruiting costly star players acted as an inspiration for the new design: "the idea of excellence was another strong inspiration. The ‘galactic heroes’ of real madrid made us think of a polished gemstone, a magic skin with a changing light and color hues that actually protects a treasure." The assignment necessitates that construction not interfere with play, and despite its relatively high-tech qualities and irregular forms, large sections of the new structure can be shop-assembled offsite. GMP Architekten have extensive experience with projects of this nature, having already designed three stadiums for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa and two structures for this summer's Brazilian iteration of the tournament. A completion date has been tentatively set for 2017 with a $537 million price tag slapped on the project. How a club supposedly saddled with almost $800 million in debt can afford such an expense is unclear, though their current financial straits have done little to curb the recruitment of evermore expensive galactic heroes (galacticos) that might serve as future inspiration for another multimillion dollar renovation. In the spirit of competition, Madrid's presentation comes in the wake of Barcelona's announcement for costly, though more stylistically modest, updates to their own stadium, a Nou-er Camp, if you will.
Searching for the perfect holiday gift? If AN’s 2013 Holiday Gift Guide choices are not exquisite enough for your recipient’s taste, sport architecture firm Populous has just the right $30 million option. The Kansas City-based company, whose commissions include Yankee Stadium in New York City and London’s Olympic Stadium, will give one big spender their own custom backyard stadium this holiday season. The offer was created for Robb Report’s Ultimate Gift List this year, a list of luxury presents for the world’s wealthiest, said Ballpark Digest. After at least 12 months of design and construction, the personal field will be equipped with the electronic displays and the technology to host and play nearly any sport. A gift stadium by Populous will be 40- to 50-yards long, about half the size of a regulation American football field. Fiber optics in the artificial grass playing green field will set regulation field lines with light, giving multisport options. Surrounding players on all sides, 12 to 20 feet tall LED screens will have the abilities to countdown and keep score, project backdrop environments of famous sporting grounds, and fill the stadium with virtual fans, in addition to the 100 real seats of a built box. If weather is a problem, the stadium can be constructed with a retractable roof. If the client desires a more authentic playing experience, machine-made rain, wind, and snow may be created. Populous’ electronic wonder field is meant for personal use, with technology to mimic the function of a true stadium, not to achieve it. The goal is to create “a custom, premium environment for a select number of people,” said the firm’s Associate Principle Ryan Sickman. And regardless of the population of a practice, scrimmage or match, its sound system can recreate the cheers, songs, and hecklings of a professional game.
As Harris County voters prepare to make their decision on the fate of Houston’s iconic Astrodome, some lucky locals will have an opportunity to bring home a piece of the historic stadium this Saturday. In preparation for the stadium’s pending rebirth as the “New Dome Experience” (or its possible destruction), the building’s managers are tearing a page out of Minneapolis' playbook as they put sections of the stadium up for sale. A limited quantity of seats, genuine sections of AstroTurf, furnishings, concessions equipment, and various memorabilia—including the space helmets worn by the grounds crew for the stadium's opening 48 years ago—are up for sale at the Astrodome Yard Sale and Live Auction at Houston's Reliant Center on November 2. If you live in the area, you could bring home a pair of two seats for $200, or a 12” by 12” section of turf for $20. Customers will be limited to four seats and four sections of turf, so forget about reconstructing the dome in your backyard. Proceeds from the sale will go to the Astrodome's pending renovation. While two recent polls show that voters are still split on the $217 million dollar proposal to transform the aging stadium into a sprawling 21st century event space in time for Superbowl LI in 2017, the project’s proponents are confident that they will pull through. But, if the historic structure does come to face the wrecking ball, this may be your last chance to claim a slice of the “Eighth Wonder of the World.” Either way, don't miss out on AN and YKK's Reimagining the Astrodome Award Reception on November 4th! Join us at the Grand Lobby of the Fort Worth Convention Center for the launch of our newest print edition, AN Southwest, and be there as the top teams explain their proposals for the future of the Astrodome.
The Arab state of Qatar is in full swing with its plans to host the FIFA World Games 2022. Selected in 2010, it is the first time in the history of FIFA that a Middle Eastern Country has been chosen to host the tournament. Three existing stadiums will be expanded and nine new ultra-modern stadiums will be built, including one designed by Zaha Hadid Architects. The stadiums will reach capacities from approximately 45,000 seats for the group matches, to more than 85,000 seats for the finals. The design vision involves keeping all the stadiums within a one hour drive from the FIFA headquarters, allowing fans to attend more than one game a day. The state has submitted a substantial dossier concerned with all relevant issues ranging from accommodation, transport, security, environment to the stadium infrastructure. Part of the giant venture includes the construction of a a new, 200-mile-long metro system, expected to be completed in 2021. Al Shamal Stadium is one of the proposed stadiums to be completed in 2017. The design of the structure is inspired by the local fishing boats (dhows), commonly used in the Persian Gulf, and will accommodate approximately 45,000 people. Another proposed venue is the Al Khor Stadium which will take on an asymmetrical seashell form, providing capacity for over 45,000 fans, and an additional 1,000 seats for press.
[ Editor's Note: The following story, "Il Duomo," first appeared in Texas Architect's May/June 1990 issue. It was written by the late Douglas Pegues Harvey, an architect who graduated from Rice University and worked for Marmon Mok Architecture in San Antonio. It was written on the occasion of the Houston Astrodome's 25th anniversary as a sort of homage as well as a protest for the fact that the building was not chosen for the AIA Twenty-Five Year Award. Eero Saarinen's Gateway Arch was. (Incidentally, another Houston project was chosen for the 2013 25-Year Award.) We are rerunning this story, with permission, because today, September 17, is the registration deadline for Reimagine the Astrodome, AN and YKK AP's Astrodome Reuse Design Ideas Competition. Due to the overwhelming enthusiasm surrounding the competition, we've decided to extend the registration dealing to Monday, September 23. So if you were sleeping, wake up! Sign up today! (Also, if you have the chops to write articles like "Il Duomo" and want to contribute to AN Southwest, please contact Aaron Seward, firstname.lastname@example.org.) ] It's not every building that gets to be known as The Eighth Wonder Of The World. Texas' nominee, the Astrodome, opened 25 years ago as the world's finest interior landscape. On Apr. 9,1965, a time when the hegemony of television and the standing of the Sunbelt in American life were not yet secure, the Astrodome opening struck a telling blow on their behalf. The occasion was a Houston Astro's exhibition baseball game against the New York Yankees. With President Lyndon Johnson watching, Mickey Mantle (naturally) hit the first home run, but the Astro's (necessarily) won. The experience left visitors, well, bug-eyed. At 642 feet, the Astrodome's clear span more than doubled that of any previous enclosure. Its parking lot, the world's largest, held 30,000 cars. That sort of thing. A few miles away, NASA was making its great thrust into the infinite, silent sea. It was one of those times when events get larger than life. The Dome has had its true believers—evangelist Billy Graham, who held Crusade for Christ there its first year, and who knows something about the ancient world, has been credited with the "Eighth Wonder" phrase—and its critics—writer Larry McMurtry, for instance, described it as "the working end of the world's largest deodorant stick." In purely compositional terms, it may not have done much. Long-span technology and multi-use ingenuity have long since passed it by. All the same, there are other measures of the success of this project. Not only did it bring the pageant of stadium sports inside, its introduction of Astroturf permanently changed the "envelope of performance" of all sports previously played on grass. Its "skyboxes" represent a milepost in the evolution of the contemporary notion of "upscale," and transformed the financial structure of professional sports. It even created a new building type—a room where you could see cars colliding in mid-air. And to top it all, it was even a bargain: the construction cost of $18.7 million translates to $64 million in 1989 dollars (including financing, total cost was $107.1 million in 1989 dollars.) But to posterity, the most important test of a building is not in the continuing influence of its various innovations but in how it engages and alters the mythic landscape. By this standard, the Dome is a landmark of the first order. At its opening the Dome was an instant celebrity and since then it has maintained a star billing that few buildings of any kind ever achieve. It is, as they say, the original. It certainly wasn't just a "stadium." Only Yankee Stadium, beneficiary of decades of press exposure in the more-or-less Capital of the World, has approached a similar status. But the Dome isn't really a "building," either. Ironically, one measure of its impact is that it has never been casually thought of or described in architectural terms. It is a different category of thing, ill-defined but clearly unique and "other." In homage, equivalent buildings are customarily called "domes" even when they are not at all dome-like—the Hoosier Dome, the Pontiac Silverdome. Despite its cable suspension roof hung from four 300-foot towers, the sports and convention palace now being designed for San Antonio is persistently referred to as the "Alamodome." The story of the Astrodome's creation is a form of surrealist frontier melodrama where financial risk-taking, political deal-making, and architectural daring intersect to recast the fates of humanity redefining our perceptions about the nature of buildings, the functions they contain, and the culture they represent. The Dome was a product of the unspoken conviction that there were, and could be, no limits. Volumetrically, the Astrodome peculiarly resembles the Hyatt-Regency Hotel in Atlanta Ga., which opened about the same time. Both buildings redefined and revitalized a building type so as to create new images and possibilities, and they both did so in the same way—by going beyond Piranesi to create infinite space. One of the recurring themes in American cultural history is the quest for Zion—breaking out into infinite space to create (or regain) the ideal landscape and community—to get back to the Garden. When NASA began giving that quest its ultimate form, a conceptual boundary was created that demanded a new understanding of architectural "space." The significance of the Astrodome and the Hyatt-Regency lies in their re-presentation of this quest as an introspective one, by establishing the possibility of an infinite interior space. The Astrodome engages the sense of the infinite paradoxically. A single-space building, no matter how huge, appears larger inside than outside. Once inside, you lose the scalar cues the landscape and sky normally provide and have only the structure itself as a frame of reference. But our personal and evolutionary experience with the natural world have conditioned us to interpret the background as all-encompassing. Therefore we read the distant walls as the natural background, and perceptually "overscale" any uncommonly large interior; the larger the room, the more pronounced the effect. The Astrodome simply raises this effect to a higher order of magnitude. It encloses so much volume that the roof's visual weight is inadequate to delimit the scale, and the space becomes perceptually unbounded. Viewed through our prejudice in favor of overscaling, it reads as bigger than immeasurably big—infinite. The roof is no more than a gossamer web of steel clouds drifting above the field, completing a vision of the cosmos. Because an infinite space cannot be "inside" anything, in the Astrodome, you are not, therefore, "inside." A parallel physiological effect then reinforces this message. When we gaze into the distance, the alignment and focus of our eyes gives us a certain neuromuscular feedback that we associate with the wide-open spaces. In neuromuscular terms, a sufficiently distant roof is the same as the sky. The meaning derived from these phenomena are profoundly different from those evoked by the sense of being inside. Freed of ultimate closure, the Astrodome becomes a microcosm, as though it were a colony in space or on society's conceptual frontier (which, in a sense, it was), with a wholeness independent of the outside world. It is even a dome—a form loaded with historical references to the sacred and the infinite. Its location at the edge of the limitless prairie, in a nearly infinite parking lot, heightens the air of surrealism while its name appropriates the aura of outer space on behalf of inner space. Subjecting the building's functions to such an articulate vastness gives them a jamais vu quality. By its association with the cosmic vision, any mass spectator event instantly becomes a grander, more intense, more focused spectacle; its emotional equations are transformed. The first indoor baseball game became, figuratively, the first game of all time. However, intensifying the ritual to such a degree also transforms it into entertainment. Beginning with that first indoor baseball game, the sense and even the pretense of continuity and reciprocity between participants and spectators (such as that postulated by the Texas A&M "twelfth man" tradition) were forever abandoned. The first spectators in the Astrodome became the live audience in the world's largest television studio, furnished with theater seats, not bleachers, with a scoreboard that lit up like a game in an arcade. Finally the Caesars in the skyboxes had a suitably spectacular barbarity to entertain them. Success, it is said, has a thousand fathers. It may already be too late to establish with certainty who originated the idea for a covered, air-conditioned baseball stadium. It is clear that various business owners in Houston during the 1950's were campaigning to bring major league baseball to town. There were studies for a "War Memorial Stadium" that even became the Astrodome in order to cement the design with the National League. Public sentiment credits Judge Roy Hofheinz, the Dome's guiding genius and co-owner of its master lease. One story has it that he got the idea for a sports stadium as a tourist in Italy, on learning that the Colosseum (home to blood sports and human sacrifices) had a retractable sunshade. Prior to getting involved in baseball, certainly, the Judge was in a race (won by Frank Sharp at Sharpstown) to develop Houston's first air-conditioned shopping mall, and was thoroughly familiar with the design and construction of long-span, air-conditioned assembly spaces. Moreover, the idea was already in the air. Tycoon Glenn McCarthy may have proposed a covered stadium during the 1940s. Walter O'Malley considered building a covered stadium for the Dodgers while they were still in Brooklyn, and Harris County officials met with him in Los Angeles in the late 50s. But in mythological terms the Colosseum connection is true, regardless of its actuality. It invokes the laying-on of hands, conveying the splendor of ancient Rome from its Pantheon to the new cathedral of America's sports religion. In an article in Architectural Design in 1970, Peter Papademetriou equated the Astrodome to St Peter's as a gigantic urban-edge project that established a defining physical and social form. In the beginning, the glory of Rome gave a desirable gloss to the Astrodome's image. But today comparisons to either St. Peter's or the Colosseum are redundant. The Dome, not Rome, is the archetypal social form across the land. With the coming of the Dome, spectacle at last reached the intensity necessary to bridge the mythic distance from baseball, diffuse and subtle, to football, especially professional football, a gladiatorial contest worthy of the first Colosseum. The elevation of the spectacle also transformed the nature of the "occasion" surrounding football as ritual event. Formerly, the game itself was only the zone of greatest density of meaning imbedded in an extended activity. In the ancestral pattern, getting there was half the fun—the journey, visits to relatives or friends, the tailgate party, the post-game celebration. (The old ways survive in Dallas the night before the Texas-Oklahoma football game and during "Texas Week" at Texas A&M.) Even the game's prostration before the elements, though sometimes inconvenient, was symbolically meaningful. Through this, the larger event maintained its ties to, and signified its place in, a world larger than the game itself. No longer. Thanks to the possibilities for artifice liberated by the Astrodome, the Event has been freed from its dependency on Nature's caprice and God's sky. The Game has achieved purity of essence. It is reborn as a feature attraction in the world of focused entertainment values based on network television and the ultimate macho voyeurism of Monday Night Football. The feat of mythic transformation wrought by the Astrodome is acknowledged by the attitudes of professional sports leagues towards indoor play. Even though baseball is always postponed for bad weather, major-league baseball will not consider indoor locations for prospective expansion teams. On the other hand, football, which is traditionally played regardless of the weather, has wholly embraced indoor stadiums. Whereas baseball is a ritual celebration of mythic space, football possesses and defines it. So while baseball needs the presence of the outside world and is diminished indoors, football is only rendered more intense and primal by the technical refinement that indoor play makes possible. So where has the Astrodome been all these years? Somewhere at once beneath the notice of the architecture profession and beyond its imagination. What if the Astrodome didn't further the "ennobling" of architecture—it forcefully, purposefully, massively, irredeemably changed the social landscape. If any building merits the AIA's 25-year award, it's the Astrodome. That the architecture profession has failed to recognize it as a key monument offers strong evidence that our criteria for measuring architectural quality remain woefully narrow, drawing so heavily on fineness of composition and on an abstract view of form that they blind us to the emotional, experiential character of our relationships with buildings. Douglas Pegues Harvey