by Russell Boniface
This past Super Bowl was played in the new University of Phoenix Stadium, while in the nation’s capital a new baseball stadium is about to be unveiled for the Washington Nationals. Each stadium used different design strategies to reflect its environment. The form of the University of Phoenix Stadium is a cactus, while its retractable translucent fabric roof plays into the city’s climate to allow for desert sunlight while still providing air conditioning. Its playing surface is actually rolled out on tracks into the parking lot to allow Arizona sunshine to nourish the grass. In Washington D.C., the stadium’s concrete is similar in color and texture to limestone to reflect the city’s monuments. The stadium is angled for views of the U.S. Capitol and the National Mall monuments. Cherry blossom trees, a D.C. springtime attraction, will even be planted to bloom behind outfield bleachers.
Which all raises the question: For an event venue such as a stadium, how should architecture go beyond concrete to embody the fan experience? And how should its design strategy reflect its location to greater enhance that experience?
Tell us about an experience you’ve had at a new stadium, arena, theater, or pavilion in your town. Did its design provide a worthwhile fan experience? How was it unique to your town? How would you improve upon its design and why?
Or perhaps you have a fantasy stadium you wish to design. Tell us about it.