The Danish architecture firm Bjarke Ingels Group, which was hired by Redskins owner Daniel Snyder to design a new stadium for the team, unveiled a model of the proposed project on Sunday’s episode of “60 Minutes.” The most striking feature of the semi-transparent, hyperbolic paraboloid-shaped design is the moat that surrounds the
Ingels, who designed Google’s headquarters, apparently envisions the moat as much more than a place for kayakers to paddle around the stadium or a hazard for inebriated fans. A close-up rendering of the moat provided to CBS includes fans lying on a man-made beach, a surfer riding a wave and two people rappelling off the side of the stadium. (There’s no word on whether the mayor of Ocean City, who recently invited Kirk Cousins to adopt his town’s name as his new audible at the line of scrimmage, is also involved in the design.)
“The stadium is designed as much for the tailgating, like the pregame, as for the game itself,” Ingels said on the show. “Tailgating literally becomes a picnic in a park. It can actually make the stadium a more lively destination throughout the year without ruining the turf for the football game.”
Another #Redskins stadium design concept from world-renowned architecture firm BIG.
— Washington Redskins (@Redskins) March 14, 2016
To no one’s surprise, reaction to the proposed design — and the moat in particular — on Facebook and Twitter was mostly negative.
@Redskins No. Just no. No, no, no, no. The stadium looks like jellyfish barf.
— Burgundy Burner (@BurgundyBurner) March 14, 2016
Despite some reservations, other fans liked the design.
The moat initially seems like an odd feature, but Kriston Capps of City Lab provides one possible explanation for its inclusion:
“A moat around the former Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium site in D.C. would connect the venue with the nearby Anacostia River, which is popular with kayakers. The design looks like a love letter to the team’s old neighborhood.
There’s no good reason to build a kayak feature for a site in Virginia’s Loudoun County. Now, there’s no reason against it, sure. But BIG likes to draw a project’s site-specific context into the design itself. A moat might work (or not work) for any site that the team selects in the Washington metro area. But it only resonates at the one site.”
The Redskins’ lease on FedEx Field doesn’t expire until 2027 and negotiations on where a new stadium would be built are still in the early stages.
Perhaps it’s worth noting that, back in 1960, the Fine Arts Commission had its own reservations about the proposed design of District Stadium, which would become RFK. The Commission raised no objections, but its members were unhappy with the roof design. Architect Douglas W. Orr described its appearance to the Post as “whoopsie-doodle” and “roller coaster.” Orr and fellow architect member Ralph Walker expressed their “complete dissatisfaction” with the roof.