U.S. Bank Stadium:
Wide Open and Hyper Local
Completed in fall 2016, the $1.1 billion LEED Gold certified U.S. Bank
Stadium in Minneapolis, which is home to the National Football League’s
Minnesota Vikings, undoubtedly represents a new era in stadium design.
Utilizing a plastic material called ETFE (ethylene tetrafluoroethylene) that
looks just like glass, designer HKS was able to create a fully closed-roof
stadium that feels like it’s outside. “That ETFE is stunning the way it brings
light into a space,” says Loretta Fulvio, who directs sports interiors for
Fulvio believes stadium and arena design increasingly has borrowed from
other project types, such as hospitality and corporate design models,
in order to soften the common industrial materials used in stadiums,
such as concrete and steel. “The floor may be concrete, but you have wood
over the concessions, you have long linear light planes that drop light from
the roof,” she explains. “We try to get that volume down to give more
of a sense of a pathway, and to rein in the big concourses so they don’t feel
as canyon-like. As we develop these stadia, we put a lot of time into what
finishes look high-end and wear high-end. We’re using porcelain tile skins
over gyp board, for example, like hotels and higher-end buildings. It was very
cold, very industrial in most stadia. Now, we’re bringing much more of
a hospitality feel.”
Fulvio also says designers favored locally sourced materials, in part to
meet LEED certification standards that evoke a region’s natural geography.
A case in point is the designers’ partnership with Minnesota-based
Cambria, a supplier of natural stone surfaces, particularly quartz. HKS wanted
a durable, yet luxurious-looking material for the countertops of its premium
stadium clubs. Cambria answered the call with a quartz surface that could
be customized to look like marble or granite, and could even offer custom
variations in the Vikings’ signature colors, purple and yellow.
“It’s a very strong material, just behind diamond,” says Peter Martin, Cambria’s
executive vice president of sales. “And, it won’t stain. It isn’t porous. It’ll
stand up better to scratches and chips. For many years, the challenge was
aesthetic. It was a monotone-looking product. But now, being able to replicate
marbles and exotic granites has allowed the category to explode.”
Designers also must anticipate the call for a greater variety of premium
spaces encircling a stadium. “People are teeming for social product,” Fulvio
says. “They don’t want to be in a suite anymore. They want to be in larger
groups. So, for our loge boxes, we took the idea of modular conference
rooms or offices and applied it to this product. You could go from a loge box
of eight, remove the center walls and do 16, remove the next and do 24.”
Placemaking and Movement
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. “Our design response was to say,
‘What if the arena itself jumped the street?’” recalls Ryan Gedney, a vice
president and senior project designer at HOK in Kansas City, Missouri. And,
indeed, the entire arena stretches over the street to create a multipurpose
entryway (called Ford Hall) that doubles as an event space.
“It’s a bit like Grand Central Station. It’s one of those spaces that you want
to go to,” says Jan Steingahs, who leads HOK’s Calgary, Alberta, office.
The key, however, was to make the spaces feel both expansive and
intimate. The client had sought a futuristic look and requested that structural
components be hidden away. So, in Ford Hall, about 1,200 acoustical ceiling
panels by Ontario-based Decoustics were used to dampen reverberations,
while also delivering a dramatic sense of curvature.
Cambria surfaces at
U. S. Bank Stadium reflect
the home team’s colors.
(Image: Steve Henke)