Feature Article - July 2010
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Design for the Big Time

Latest Stadiums Mix History, Technology and Intimate Fan Experience

By Daniel P. Smith

New Meadowlands Stadium
Location: East Rutherford, N.J.
Home Teams: New York Giants, New York Jets
Opening: April 2010
Seating: 82,500

When plans for a new football stadium in Manhattan for the Jets faltered, the franchise and its architect, Kansas City-based 360 Architecture, paired with its New York competitor, the Giants and Philadelphia's EwingCole, to build a modern stadium for the city's two NFL teams—a challenging venture in that the design had to appease two distinct ownership groups and fan bases.

The New Meadowlands Stadium claims a "neutral" design that can easily adapt to each team's needs and identity. The stadium pioneers the "cornerstone" concept, in which the four corners of the stadium have been sold to sponsors who have been given the leeway to create environments and experiences aligned with their own image and business objectives.

Above all, however, the design focused on creating a fan-centric facility, a reality accomplished with clear and direct sightlines, a tight seating bowl to foster an intense and intimate connection with the on-field action, and an array of premium seating options. The stadium also features state-of-the-art technology highlighted by four 128-foot-by-30-foot LED corner scoreboards.

"Above all, this stadium had to be about football—the Giants and the Jets and the creation of an intimidating venue," said George Heinlein, senior principal with 360 Architecture. "Hosting two NFL teams, the building had to have a neutral color scheme and exterior design so that the teams could customize the stadium on game days."

Louisville Arena
Location: Louisville, Ky.
Home Team: University of Louisville basketball
Opening: November 2010
Seating: 22,000 (basketball) and 16,000 (hockey), including 72 suites and four party suites

The Louisville Arena Authority sought a flexible, dynamic and contemporary facility to serve as the home court of the University of Louisville's basketball team as well as to preserve the ability to host to a plethora of other athletic and entertainment events. The development of the 7.5-acre downtown site characterizes Louisville's continued urban renaissance.

The Louisville Arena stands as an ode to sturdy design and contemporary flair. Limestone panels clad the lower portion of the exterior walls, a tactile connection to the carved bridge pylons flanking the entry to the Clark Memorial Bridge, while a more contemporary materiality of glass curtainwall and taut aluminum skin lightens the appearance. A dramatic wing-like roof caps the composition, contributing to Louisville's emerging skyline.

The waterfront project also features a number of sustainable elements, including: preservation of green space; use of existing infrastructure, utilities and roads; high-efficiency mechanical systems; and the use of low-emitting and renewable materials.

"Louisville Arena was designed as a centerpiece of downtown Louisville's renaissance," said Brad Clark, senior designer with Populous. "Its exterior represents movement and motion, much like a Cardinal in flight. The arena's roof is a sweeping form, and an expansive glass feature symbolizes the falls of Ohio. Inside, the building honors the Kentucky heritage of bluegrass, bourbon and basketball."