Stadium Design January 2014

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In the spirit of the Superbowl, we revisit an interview with Chris Lamberth of ThreeSixty Architecture, the firm behind the Meadowlands Stadium.

AD360: Your firm specializes in sports’ facilities. Tell us more about your firm’s philosophy and how the process of building a stadium is distinct from other projects?

CL: Sports venues and their design and construction are driven by multiple user groups – both public and private–including team owners, team management, facility managers, public servants and politicians. Not unlike any non-sports client, these users want their project to the best, unique, better than the other guy, state-of-the-art, efficient, etc. We try to tailor our solutions to each of our client’s goals, needs and culture. Consensus building is tough in any business. As architects, the challenge is to integrate ideas from these stakeholders into a buildable project that has flair, character and its own identity. In the end, we want it to not only look cool and have a create edge and but function efficiently and make profits.

When you design a stadium, arena or ballpark, particularly for a professional sports organization or major collegiate program, you have to integrate multiple revenue generating elements that are appropriate for the local and regional market. It’s not a one-size fits all. The design of a commercial office building or multi-family residential complex yields revenues that rely on traditional revenue structures = real estate income; leases; rent, etc. What works in Pittsburgh might not work in Dallas, just as what works in New York might not work in LA or Chicago vs. St Louis or vice versa.

AD360: What are some innovations of the new Meadowlands Stadium? What are some stadium stats?

CL: The Meadowlands Stadium (MS) has four “cornerstones” that start at the perimeter and flow through the stadium and into the seating bowl: switchable branding via lighting, electronic technology and static signage; full FIFA regulation field for international soccer matches; fiber optic network for technology backbone; and more. In terms of stats…

* 82,500 seats for football and soccer

* Five premium lounges, totaling 130,000 square feet

* Both the Jets’ and Giants’ locker rooms exit towards the sideline on opposite corners of the Club along a corridor separated by floor-to-ceiling glass walls, giving members a face to face experience with the players

AD360: We hear this is the most technologically advanced stadium out there. How so?

CL: The backbone of the stadium is set up based on Cisco Systems technology. This is a massive building and Cisco targeted the building type as a platform for their network supporting various technologies. One of their branded concepts is the “Connected Stadium,” which not unique to MS and was integrated earlier at the new Cowboys Stadium. The secure network is tailored for sports and entertainment facilities that integrates communications, operations, ticketing, video, security and access. On top of that Verizon helped build-out a high-speed wireless network geared towards mobile technologies, including creating unique mobile apps and providing unmatched fiber-optic technology. Verizon and Cisco also put together a 34-channel HD video network to be broadcast on over 2,200 HD video screens installed throughout the stadium supporting new Internet Protocol Television (IPTV) technology for live TV, time-shifted programming and video on demand.

The technology implemented at MS can help improve efficiencies in operations and concession by monitoring data and usage to help keep lines short, supplies and inventory available, and fans happy.

Ad360: What do you think is the most interesting feature of the Meadowlands Stadium?

CL:

* Cornerstone scoreboards with their respective sponsor clubs, patios and seats nested underneath each.

* The ability of the stadium to morph its brand mostly at the flip of a switch via electronic technology (e.g., video boards, HD monitors, architectural lighting, etc.); the team store can turn from Giants Blue to Jets Green overnight with secret compartments and hidden storage on the sales floor to store the other teams’ merchandise while the other is on display.

AD360: Who do you root for? What do you think of that team’s stadium?

CL: The Angels. I love the nooks and crannies but also the newness of the renovation (1997). It’s the team I grew up with. My favorite spots are section 222 and the knothole club in the RF club deck.

For more on ThreeSixty Architecture, visit 360architects.com.

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