I’ve always been interested in stadium architecture. I like sports and my father is an architect, so I guess it’s a natural fit.
I wrote my final grad school paper on the Bird’s Nest stadium that was, at the time, under construction for the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. I touched on some of the themes of that essay in this column.
In this country, the term “stadium architecture” is often something of an oxymoron. Jeffrey Loria, for better or worse, is out to change that:
Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria’s vision has always been to turn the franchise’s new ballpark into a work of art.
OK, so that’s a bit pretentious. “I’m going to make a big awesome new stadium, and it’s going to be ART, dammit!” But you’ve got to respect the guy for trying to shake things up a bit in the stadium-design paradigm. I thought the Rays’ new stadium would be the first place to do that, but then the bottom fell out of the project.
Anyway, the Marlins got the Miami Art in Public Places Trust to commission a few local and international artists for installations at the new place, and at least a couple of them look to be pretty awesome. Ron Grooms’ home-run celebration feature looks a bit hokey, for sure, but it’s colorful and fan-friendly and a very Miami-appropriate take on the Shea Stadium apple.
What I love, though, is the proposed project by Daniel Arsham and Snarkitecture to commemorate the old Orange Bowl, which was demolished in 2008 to make room for the stadium. The plan is to create concrete replicas of the letters from the Orange Bowl’s original sign and scatter them around the stadium’s entrance plaza.
That’s sweet. The letters can serve as seating or identifiable meeting places for fans outside of the ballpark, and at the same time work as a memorial to a part of the city’s sports history. They’ll look a bit random, for sure, and I can imagine a bunch of incredulous Tweets from beat writers seeing the place for the first time, but they’re clearly fun.
There’s a lot about the new stadium and its design that’s a bit risky, and obviously it’s too soon to say if or how it will all look and work, but good for the Marlins for attempting something different.