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Honorable Mentions

Not every facility gets to be a winner in our annul Innovative Architecture & Design Awards competition. That said, there are always a handful of projects that don't make it to the winner's circle, but still stand head and shoulders above the rest. These three projects were given high marks by many of the judges, but didn't quite make it into the top eight.

Ed Smith Stadium
Baltimore Orioles Spring Training
Sarasota, Fla.

S U B M I T T E D    B Y

David M. Schwarz Architects in Washington, D.C.

Size: 91,000 square feet (stadium); 37,500 square feet (clubhouse); 17,600 square feet (BOBC)

Project Cost: $31.2 million

Quick Tour:

  • 1,500 seats added with standing room capacity of 8,500 fans
  • Metal and fabric canopy extends shaded areas of roof
  • Luxury suites
  • Specialty concessions
  • Cocktail lounge
  • Picnic areas
  • Renovated press box and new team offices
  • Training room
  • Weight room
  • Batting runnels
  • Support and maintenance facilities
  • 3 full and 2 half fields (Ed Smith Complex)
  • 4 full fields (BOBC)

Since the 1920s, Sarasota, Fla., has provided a training home for baseball teams in the spring. In 2009, after the departure of the Cincinnati Reds, Sarasota County and the Baltimore Orioles selected David M. Schwarz Architects of Washington, D.C., to master plan and design the renovation and expansion of their spring home and ensure baseball would remain a fixture of the Gulf Coast city for another generation.

The two-site, $38.5 million spring training and year-round rehabilitation facilities serve both the Orioles' Major and Minor League baseball teams as well as a number of community events and games each year. The main complex located in a suburban residential neighborhood of the city included the existing Ed Smith Stadium and associated clubhouse—renamed the Orioles' Baseball Operations Center (BOC)—and practice facilities. A smaller Buck O'Neil Baseball Complex (BOBC) includes a Minor League clubhouse and practice fields located within the green fields of Twin Lakes Park.

With work completed on the stadium and BOBC in March 2011, and the BOC completed for the 2012 spring season, the renovated facilities are considered by many as the "crown jewel of the Grapefruit League."

While the structure and seating bowl of the existing late 1980s-era Ed Smith Stadium were considered sound, its stark exterior wall of open concessions and exposed queuing areas, lack of fan and operational amenities, and limited seating options and shaded areas were neither community nor fan friendly. By wrapping the existing seating bowl and structure with a new 85,000-square-foot addition, DMSAS was able to use the funds available in the most impactful way: accommodating needed programmatic functions and establishing a new identity for the ballpark. The plan also accommodates new luxury suites, specialty concessions, a cocktail lounge, picnic areas and new field-level seating, increasing the existing 6,500-seat stadium to an 8,500-person ballpark.

The architectural expression of the stadium and BOC is based on a traditional, Mediterranean-inspired style, one DMSAS generally refers to as "Florida Picturesque," common to Sarasota and much of Florida in the 1920s and '30s. The style can be found in many of Sarasota's public and civic buildings.

Using elements common to both the Florida Picturesque style and ballparks of the past (e.g., arched openings, a broad, rounded corner façade, stucco and tile details), the building evokes a sense of permanence that speaks to the history of baseball and Sarasota. Elements such as light fixtures, entry gates and brackets use baseball and mirrored "b" iconography to celebrate the building's use and the Baltimore Orioles. A custom-designed Louisville Slugger bat chandelier displaying the Orioles' past pennants and championship banners greets fans as they enter.

A new two-level concourse with third-floor administrative office space pulls the stadium's façade closer to the property line, fronting the adjoining streets and engaging the surrounding neighborhood much like many historic ballparks.

The new addition accommodates fan amenities, press areas and upgraded and expanded team functions. Fan amenity space includes triple the number of concessions, an air-conditioned café, a team store, and renovated and new restrooms.

The seating bowl and field program were also extensively modified to improve the spectator experience. Two additional rows on the field side of the existing cross aisle narrows the circulation path to encourage fans to utilize the concourse and improve sight lines. Three additional field-level rows in front of the existing front row provide seats even closer to the action. Relocating bullpens along the foul lines offers a more intimate fan experience. The heavy-looking roof of the original stadium has been extended with a lightweight metal and fabric canopy that increase the number of seats with shade while enhancing the appearance of the seating bowl and addressing hurricane uplift loads.

The Left Field area was completely redesigned to accommodate a second ballpark entrance, as well as two additional casual seating and fan experience areas.

Improvements to the BOC included 12,500 square feet of additions and 30,000 square feet of renovations to the existing clubhouse, including state-of-the-art training and weight rooms, a new full-service kitchen and dining room, open-center locker rooms and associated grooming, laundry, service and storage areas. Renovated enclosed batting tunnels, a crushed-stone running track, three full practice fields and two half fields, and new maintenance and support facilities ensure the team can -prepare for any situation they may come across during the long summer season.

Renovations at BOBC also utilized a style rooted in the architectural fabric of Saraosta, this time that of Sarasota Modern. Again, design elements that added 1,500 square feet were introduced that provided the best value and impact for the facility.

Throughout the renovation of the existing facilities, the design team was mindful of creating a more sustainable ballpark. The decision to wrap and reuse the exterior of the existing seating structure and press box, as well as those of the clubhouses, saved thousands of tons of building materials from going into a landfill. The new seats and end stanchions are refurbished from those that had been removed from the team's home stadium, Camden Yards. The use of light-colored paving and Cool Roof Council approved roofing tile reflects the sun's rays and reduced cooling loads. The replacement of and upgrade to more energy-efficient building systems included utilizing reclaimed water for toilets and irrigation. The use of native trees and groundcover provides naturally shaded and green spaces. These and other sustainable features are further highlighted throughout the facilities with "Go Green" logo signage to educate users on the environmental benefits of each design element. The completed project is targeted for a LEED Gold rating.

A S S O C I A T E D    F I R M S

Design Architect: David M. Schwarz Architects

Architect of Record/Landscape: Hoyt Architects

Structural Engineer: Bliss & Nyitray Inc.

MEP Engineers: GRAEF and Crawford Williams Engineering

Civil Engineer: AM Engineering

Graphics: Ashton Design

Kitchen Consultants: Fishman and Associates

TV/Broadcast: MASN Sports