Stadium's Modern Design Is Clear Winner on Council

By David Nakamura
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, November 18, 2005

A much-anticipated design for a new home for the Washington Nationals features glass, stone and steel as the primary materials and departs sharply from the popular red-brick throwback ballparks.

The design will not be released for several weeks and still could be modified, but Mayor Anthony A. Williams (D) and key city officials have given the nod to the modern look.

In briefings over the past week, the D.C. Sports and Entertainment Commission presented a projector show to Williams and several D.C. Council members containing drawings developed by the stadium's architectural team, led by Hellmuth, Obata & Kassabaum Sport of Kansas City, Mo.

The stadium, which will be along the Anacostia River in near Southeast, features an exterior wall largely made of glass and broken up by limestone portals, according to city sources who have seen the drawings. Aspects of the design create a translucent quality, offering fans inside views of the surrounding neighborhood and teasing those outside with glimpses of game activities.

People who have seen the working version say the ballpark will open to the northeast and afford views of the Capitol -- but only from a limited number of upper-deck seats and the press box.

It provides 78 luxury boxes in two stacked rows and 3,000 club seats between first base and third base, affording high-paying patrons prime views. Some of the club seats and a restaurant would be in the lower deck behind home plate.

Beyond the outfield, architects have placed another restaurant and a public walkway, designed to be open to the public even on days when there are no games.

Two cantilevered ramps leading to the upper decks contain viewing platforms from which fans can pause to take in sweeping scenes of the city -- the federal monuments to the north and the Anacostia River to the south.

Outside the stadium, a slender, angled building for offices, probably for the team, juts from the stadium from behind the home plate stands. Two large aboveground parking garages are situated to the north of the stadium.

As for the playing field, the deepest part of center field is 408 feet, the sources said.

The city plans to build the 41,000-seat stadium and related infrastructure on several city blocks near South Capitol Street SE and the Navy Yard at a cost of $535 million, most of it public money.

In separate briefings, Williams, D.C. Council Chairman Linda W. Cropp (D) and council member Sharon Ambrose (D-Ward 6) told commission officials that they are comfortable with the designs, the sources said.

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