HOK’s Tracy Stearns spoke with I+D Magazine about the evolving design of stadiums and arena interiors.
Excerpted from I+D Magazine:
From football and basketball to soccer and hockey, rock concerts to monster truck rallies, perhaps no building type better represents and plays host to our homes and dreams than our constellation of stadiums and arenas. And, like any architecture, the design and expectations for these palaces, where tens of thousands of fans gather for hours at a time, are constantly changing.
Today, a new generation of venues, particularly urban arenas, seeks to anchor extended new real estate developments. So, when designing a new home for the National Hockey League’s Edmonton Oilers, HOK sought a way to connect the arena to the new ICE plaza located across a busy thoroughfare. Given downtown Edmonton, Alberta’s architectural tradition of sky bridges, the client proposed one over 104 Avenue. And, indeed, the entire arena stretches over the street to create a multipurpose entryway (called Ford Hall) that doubles as an event space.
In addition, the idea at the $450 million, LEED Silver-certified Rogers Place is to anticipate movement by fans amongst a variety of seats, clubs, and other spaces. For example, Rogers Place includes 3,100 club seats, 900 loge seats, and 57 executive suites, but also three clubs, two lounges, and a full-service restaurant. To ensure fans can follow the action as they move through the arena, more than 1,200 HDTVs are peppered throughout the property.
HOK has applied a similar principle — tech-enabled movement — to the new Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, the first LEED Platinum certified professional sports stadium in North America. The roof retracts to reveal a circular opening with a first-of-its-kind halo-shaped video screen that fans can see wherever they are in the arena. But that technology is coupled with an emphasis on higher-end food options tied to local chefs, making the whole experience a kind of ongoing spectacle. “We’re competing with people staying at home and watching the game on TV,” Tracy Stearns, a senior vice president at HOK explains. “You have to provide these folks with great food, a great atmosphere. It has to be a destination.”