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D.C. Seeks 'Signature' Ballpark

If there are fewer exclusive seats in the District's stadium than in other ballparks, architects probably will be pressured to create other revenue-generating features.

In Baltimore, then-Orioles President Larry Lucchino and his lead architects from HOK created a ballpark experience that became a hit by almost every measure. Fans have loved the traditional look and feel of the park, with its nod to the area's history through the incorporation of the red-brick B&O Warehouse beyond right field. Owners love the park's amenities -- the 75 luxury suites and the Eutaw Street promenade, where fans spend money on Boog's Barbecue and team-owned stores. Not coincidentally, while the ballpark's ceremonial entrance is behind home plate, most fans enter through the large gates on Eutaw Street.


D.C. officials say that this rendering of a new stadium was drawn only to inspire unusual design possibilities and that the design has not been finalized."We do not want to see just another baseball stadium," says Allen Y. Lew, chief executive of the D.C. Sports and Entertainment Commission. (360 Architecture)



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HOK, a leading sports architecture firm, has designed 10 of the 14 most recent ballparks, as well as football stadiums and other sports arenas. Santee noted that team owners often demand a more traditional stadium because Oriole Park has been so successful and because baseball is the most traditional of sports.

Sports architects are important because they know what teams want, the architect Eisenman said, but they "don't specialize in what I would call symbolic icons. These guys are interested mainly in cranking them out."

But Santee took exception to the notion that sports architects cannot provide creative design ideas.

At the direction of Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria, who is an avid art collector, HOK designed the team's proposed glass-and-steel-based ballpark. "It's going to change the way America looks at sporting buildings," Santee said.

Some teams are taking steps to foster more innovative designs. The San Diego Padres selected HOK to build Petco Park but paired the firm with architect Antoine Predock, whose Southwest-inspired designs had won raves but who never had designed a sports structure. The team also hired ROMA, an urban planning firm from San Francisco, to help ensure the stadium would aid the redevelopment of blighted East Village.

Predock imported sandstone from India to produce an outer shell that matched San Diego's geography. Instead of placing administrative offices in the bowels of the stadium, Predock put them in two towers and opened the main concourse to the sky to take advantage of the city's balmy weather. D.C. officials expect the baseball stadium to play an integral role in city life for more than 30 years.

"The new park should be seen as a building where if you see it on a postcard, it doesn't have to say D.C. or Nationals," HNTB's Welter said. "You just know it's D.C."


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