With less then 8 weeks remaining before Harris County voters cast their ballots to decide the fate of the “Eighth Wonder of the World,” a group of prominent Houstonians has established a political action committee with which they hope to raise public support for the ailing Astrodome. Launched at a press conference on Thursday, The New Dome PAC has begun efforts to raise upwards of $200,000 for a media campaign intended to persuade the public to vote in favor of Proposition 2, the $217 million project that aims to preserve, repurpose, and modernize the historic stadium. While no opposing organization has yet been formed, some worry that many donors may be tapped out at this point in the political season, and polls conducted by local stations KHOU 11 News and KUHF Houston Public Radio show that the public is still split, with younger voters who may have never attended an event at the Astrodome showing less enthusiasm for putting down the cash to save it. Meanwhile, don't forget that the Architect's Newspaper and YKK AP are hosting an Astrodome Reuse Design Ideas Competition: Reimagine The Astrodome. The registration deadline is September 17, so sign up today! The members of the PAC include former and current Harris County judges Robert Eckels and Ed Emmet, Harris County Commissioner El Franco Lee, Beth Wiedower of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, Stephanie Anne Jones of Preservation Houston, Irma Diaz Gonzalez, and Dene Hofheinz, daughter of State Representative, Houston Mayor, County Judge and driving force behind the creation of the Astrodome, Roy Hofheinz. Together, they hope to transform the decaying 9.5-acre stadium into a multi-purpose special events center, dubbed the “New Dome Experience,” capable of hosting a wide array of large scale events, from trade shows and conferences to high school sporting events and Indy car races. The proposed transformation focuses on removing the stadium’s seating and raising its floor level to create 350,000 square feet of unimpeded event space, as well as updating its mechanical systems, installing glazed walls to bring in more natural light, and creating 400,000 square feet of public plaza surrounding the stadium. As Judge Ed Emmet told KUHF News, there is nowhere else in the world with a facility like the envisioned dome. “Once you take all the seats out, think how large of a space that is going to be, and just the opportunities it presents to bring all sorts of events. We have 7,500 festivals every year… You can put those inside the dome. They are weather proof, and it would be a huge attraction.” Despite the seemingly enormous potential of the Astrodome, it has sat empty since the rodeo moved out in 2003. Since then, the pressure to do something with the space has mounted, leading to the National Trust for Historic Preservation's inclusion of the stadium on its 2013 list of 11 most endangered historic places. But those behind the PAC firmly believe in both the tremendous economic potential of the structure as well as its historical and cultural significance. “Every effort should be made to preserve the dome,” Beth Wiedower said to KUHF. “Our coalition and our local partners recognize the Harris County Domed Stadium, the Astrodome, as a nationally significant landmark, not only for its architectural and engineering feats at construction or because it was the first dome stadium in the world and set the standard for stadiums for decades to come, but also because of the tremendous cultural significance it holds for Harris County.” According to Robert Stein, Rice University political science professor and KHOU’s political analyst, despite challenges, things don’t look all that bad for the New Dome PAC and the future of a national landmark. “It’s a little late,” Stein told KHOU. “However, if the supporters of the referendum are organized, spend a lot of money, and there is no organized and vocal opposition, I don’t see this having great difficulty in passing.”
Posts tagged with "Stadiums":
The All England Club has unveiled its Grimshaw-designed Wimbledon Master Plan, which establishes a vision for the future of the site and a structure to direct the ongoing development and improvement of the Club. The Master Plan draws on existing assets and reflects the history of The Championships while resolving certain challenges that the site presents. Three new grass courts will be repositioned to ease overcrowding, No. 1 Court will be reworked and a fresh landscape scheme will enhance and define public areas. Key objectives include reinforcing Wimbledon as a world-class sporting venue of national and international significance, conserving the site’s exclusive legacy and guaranteeing that all new building is of first-class quality. To accomplish this, the Master Plan resolves chief operational concerns and develops effective transport solutions. Plans for the site incorporate a reduced-height Indoor Courts Building within an improved landscaped setting. The courts will sit atop basement areas for courtesy car operation, clay courts will be repositioned and a tunnel will ensure discreet access to the new building. A fixed and retractable roof is on the agenda for No. 1 Court, which will allow for continuous play, rain or shine. As for No. 2 and 3 Courts, each will offer more space for unreserved seating and access between the improved grass courts will be widened. Revamped landscaping will bolster the tree-lined boulevard leading to a new entrance plaza. The Master Plan calls for an additional plaza to the south and a press lawn. The southern entrance will also be extended. A new restaurant and public concessions will accompany a sustainable green roof. The plan aims to decrease carbon emissions from the grounds. The Master Plan emphasizes the ‘Tennis in an English Garden’ theme through a series of unique areas set within a cohesive landscape framework.
Zaha Hadid is on a stadium kick of late. Work has already begun for the design of a 2022 FIFA World Cup Stadium to be built in Qatar by Zaha Hadid Architects and AECOM. The 45,000-seat stadium is meant to visually embody an oasis and will be built 12 miles southeast of capital-city, Doha. The stadium will be built alongside historical buildings, including mosques and archeological sites, and its design looks to mediate between modern sports facility design and the historic context. Hadid has also taken the unrelenting heat that characterizes the region into the stadium's design by including cooling technology and climate control systems. The stadium will also be outfitted with a spa, an aquatic center and other sporting facilities. The facility is designed to be reduced in scale after the World Cup games to a final capacity of 25,500 seats. [Via Designboom.]
Last year, plans were floated to build a new $300 million, 25,000-seat, Major League Soccer stadium in Queens' Flushing Meadows Corona Park, to be designed by SHoP Architects. Because of the contentious nature of using public park land to build a stadium, the project had remained out of public view, but early conceptual renderings were leaked by the Empire of Soccer blog following a lecture by SHoP principal Gregg Pasquarelli at Columbia University. According to Empire of Soccer, in a video of the lecture posted and since removed from Youtube, Pasquarelli is heard saying, "The project I’m not supposed to show (you) so I am not going to tell you where it is or what it is but it’s a new stadium that should be announced in the next couple of months." He described the facility as a new type of stadium without walls. According to Capital New York, MLS president Mark Abbott denied that the proposed stadium would look like the renderings and that SHoP may not be designing the final stadium, stating: "These drawings do not represent what they stadium will look like. In fact, we haven't selected an architect yet and will not start the design process until we have an owner for the club. This was simply a concept drawing that was done only to help determine the potential height and footprint. Any assertion that these drawings represent what a stadium will look like in Queens is wrong.
In recent weeks we've seen a number of important developments in Downtown Los Angeles, like the groundbreaking of the Arquitectonica-designed apartments on Grand Avenue, and the topping out of The Broad next door. The red-hot area continues to make headlines, from the advancement of its upcoming streetcar to the murkiness of its proposed football stadium. •The city's Downtown Streetcar, which last month received funding from a tax on downtown residents, has gotten more good news. According to Curbed LA, LA City Council on March 7 approved an operational plan committing up to $294 million of Measure R transportation tax money to cover the operation and maintenance of the system. The streetcar will travel in a loop along Broadway, Figueroa Street, and other main thoroughfares between the city's Civic Center to its Convention Center. •According to Yahoo Sports, anonymous sources in the NFL have said that AEG and Gensler's Downtown LA stadium (rendered at top) in South Park is looking less and less likely. "The numbers just don't work, no matter how you look at the deal," a "league source" told Yahoo. "It's either too hard for AEG to make money [and pay the debt on the stadium] or too hard for the team. I just can't see a way for it to work." Some have said that the NFL favors a new stadium in Chavez Ravine. Stay tuned. •The LA Times reports that Singapore developer Overseas Union Enterprise has agreed to buy the Pei Cobb Freed-designed, 72-story U.S. Bank Building, the tallest building in California. The developer will be buying the building from MPG Office Trust for $367.5 million. "Its cylindrical design is an inefficient layout for an office building," real estate analyst Jed Reagan of Green Street Advisors told the Times.
Global architecture and design practice Populous, designer of the London 2012 Olympic Stadium, has been selected as architect for a large new stadium in the compact town of Rostov-on-Don, Russia, a city of just over 1 million people about 650 miles south of Moscow. Designed to host the FIFA World Cup in 2018, the stadium is Populous' fourth design for a sports venue in Russia and will contain an anticipated 45,000 seats under a cloud-like, seemingly-floating canopy. Set along the Don River, the Rostov Stadium design takes into account the surrounding landscape by drawing inspiration from kurgans—archeological mounds of earth formed along river banks and once used for pagan rituals—with artificial hills pushed up around the stadium's perimeter. Populous took an environmentally conscious stance in their proposal, aiming to protect wetlands south of the River near the stadium site. The stadium itself is sheltered by a balloon-like roof consisting of two long panels around its perimeter—each resembling a smooth, curving paintbrush stroke from above—with a central opening allowing light onto the playing field. External paths and entrances to the venue continue this theme with more curves and soft winding lines. For the World Cup, the stadium will have a capacity of 45,000 seats, which will later be scaled down to 25,000 seats.
Zaha Hadid wins again! Following a star-studded design competition, the Japanese Sports Council has announced Hadid as the winner of the New National Stadium in Japan, beating out Toyo Ito, SANAA, Populous, UN Studio among others and taking home a $250,000 prize. All-star designer of London's 2012 Aquatics Center for the summer Olympics and the first female to ever win the Pritzker Architecture prize, Hadid continues her legacy with this new stadium in Tokyo. Estimated to cost around $1.6 billion, the venue will seat 80,000 visitors and sport a retractable roof. Japanese architect and jury chair, Tadao Andao, commented on Hadid's fluid design as a complement to the crowded Tokyo landscape as well as being environmentally efficient and able to fit the strict completion deadline. "It has dynamism, which is most essential to sport and its streamlined shape fits its internal space. It is also new in terms of structural technology," Ando told the AFP. The stadium's smooth and sinuous white curves fall in line with Hadid's futuristic style and should play a unique addition to the city's terrain. The new structure replaces the existing 54,000-seat national stadium that featured prominently in Japan's 1964 Olympics. The new stadium will have a similar capacity as Beijing's Olympic "Bird's Nest" stadium—91,000 seats—and will feature an all-weather roof. Construction is set to begin in 2015 with a completion scheduled in 2018. Hadid's new stadium design will play host to the Rugby World Cup in 2019 and may even hold the 2020 Summer Olympics should Tokyo be granted its request to host them.
A new sports stadium designed by Lebanon’s MZ Architects, though experimental, differs from the glitz and glam we've become accustomed to seeing from Abu Dhabi and Dubai. Instead of showing off with dramatic curves and shiny glass, the proposed "Rock Stadium" would be buried in the Al Ain desert and will work with the natural elements, being concealed by the its rocky landscape. Situated within the Jebel Hafeet mountain range, the 660,000-square foot, 40,000-seat “Rock Stadium” is carved into its mountainous backdrop, also using using local rock to mimic the desert’s unique patterns and innate character. From a distance the stadium blurs into its background, but up close visitors are led through grand passageways inspired by the Greek temple of Anahita leading down to the hidden green playing field. At night, beams of light would illuminate the sky above the stadium, becoming an emblem for national events and activity. Architects worked with a team of geologists, stone specialists, and cave experts to determine the project's feasibility. "The original thought was to build a stand-alone stadium but, when I saw the site, I knew it would be perfect to carve into the mountain," architect Marwan Zgheib told The National. "I think it is the dream of every architect to work on a design which focuses on sustainability through design more than through technology." While the Rock Stadium is still only a proposal, Zgheib hopes it could eventually be built. Already, the project won an Emirates Glass LEAF award for Best Future Building recognizing top global design in September. No construction timeline has been announced.
Twin Cities sports fans may be most excited about Sunday’s victory on the field, but a twinge of that satisfaction could be due to the team’s new stadium. Minnesota’s Sports Facilities Authority chose HKS architects to design a new home for the NFL’s Vikings. HKS also designed Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis and Cowboys Stadium in their home base of Dallas—two of the most high-profile NFL construction projects in recent memory. A decision on the lead contractor for the project has yet to come down, but news of the $975 million stadium’s designer is the latest announcement in a long and at-times contentious political process that subsidizes professional sports in Minneapolis. Face-painted fans turned out to city council meetings as the deal cleared hurdles. With respected stadium architects on board, supporters may anticipate validation for their use of public funds. Those opposed maintain only time will tell, no matter the designer.
Big-time sports architect Dan Meis, who has designed, among other projects, LA's Staples Center and Seattle's Safeco Field, is on the move yet again. In the span of just a few years he has shuffled from his own practice to Aedas, then back to his own firm to Populous, to his own firm again, and now he is joining Australian firm Woods Bagot Sport to become its global director. Exciting opportunties? Commitment issues? "I'm not crazy about having been with a couple of different firms in a short time period," admitted Meis. But he sees it differently: "For me it feels like I’ve been in the same practice all along. It just feels like I've been associated with a lot of firms." So why Woods Bagot? Not only has the firm made a strong commitment to sports (an issue he had at Aedas when the economy took a hit), but Meis won't have to compete internally to work on major projects (a problem he ran into at Populous). The final straw at Populous came when the firm took on plans for a new LA Convention Center by AEG, putting him into direct conflict with one of his existing projects, a football stadium for LA's City of Industry. (AEG is proposing a competing stadium in Downtown LA.) Meanwhile Meis will get to continue working on a number of his recent projects, including the City of Industry football stadium, a soccer arena in Rome, and an arena for the upcoming 2022 World Cup in Qatar.
It's a story that's been told in city after city. If you build it, they won't leave. Professional sports teams hold cities hostage, playing on the loyalty of fans to get expensive, taxpayer-funded facilities, while displaying little civic loyalty of their own. Anyway! In Minneapolis, the Vikings have said they won't decamp for Los Angeles if the city and state agree to help build a new $975 million stadium on the site of the Metrodome, according to the Star-Tribune. The new Metrodome would be built in time for the 2016 season, but only if the state agrees to a $398 million subsidy and the city agrees to forgo $150 in hospitality taxes. Details about the design are sketchy at best. A rendering presented at the press conference was developed by HKS Architects several years ago, though an aerial rendering differs somewhat from the HKS design.
After being on hold since its approval in June 2010 it looks like the San Francisco 49ers new stadium is finally moving forward. On Friday the team announced it had secured financing for the $1 billion project, located next to Great America theme park in downtown Santa Clara. According to the San Jose Mercury News the money is coming from Goldman Sachs, U.S. Bank, and Bank of America. The 68,500-seat stadium, designed by HNTB, will get fans closer to the field by replacing the traditional tiered bowl with a tower of suites and club spaces on its west side. Openings in the stadium will allow for exposed pedestrian plazas as well as views into and out of the building. It is one of several now being proposed for the state, as we reported a few months ago. But it's the first to actually move ahead. With design already drawn up construction could start as soon as the middle of next year.