HOK’s Bill Johnson Discusses the Evolution of the Fan Experience with Building Design + Construction
Bill Johnson, design principal for HOK’s Kansas City and Columbus practices, discusses how stadium design is accommodating evolving fan expectations in an interview with Building Design + Construction.
Johnson is the lead designer of Mercedes-Benz Stadium, the new home of the Atlanta Falcons. The article details the innovations at Mercedes-Benz Stadium, including a halo video board, and the thought processes behind them.
“Mercedes-Benz Stadium, the Atlanta Falcons’ new home in 2017, has a retractable roof unlike any other venue seen since the Roman Pantheon, after which it was modeled. Eight roof petals close like a camera shutter, covering an open-air oculus in the ceiling. Around that opening is prime real estate. Design architect HOK created a 360-degree HD LED video board that will be built into the roof structure. At five stories in height and 63,800 square feet in area, the board will be the largest in the NFL.
“In addition to video, the board will display graphics, stats, animations, and, of course, ads and sponsor messages. The halo layout allows fans to view the live action and replays from multiple perspectives. Another idea: During punts, the board will display a fixed view of the field. The background will be static, and the game action will move across the board.
“‘From a designer’s perspective, our job is to force change or a new way of thinking about digital content,’ said Johnson. ‘No one has a 60-foot-tall halo in their backyard. In order to experience that, you have to go to the Falcons game. This is just the tip of the iceberg of what we’re being asked to do as designers.’”