The Stadium Specialists
As sports fans in the New York City area have watched new stadiums and arenas pop up all over the country, they may not have known that many of the new baseball, football, and basketball venues – including major and minor league, as well as collegiate – were designed by Kansas City’s HOK Sport + Venue + Event.
The architecture firm, which spun off in 1983 as a stand-alone affiliate of its parent firm, St. Louis-based Hellmuth, Obata and Kassabaum, has dominated sports venue design in recent years. Now, as the primary architects for the new Yankee Stadium in the Bronx, Citi Field in Queens, and the Prudential Center in Newark, the firm is ready to leave its mark on New York.
In the region, no other firm is taking on the same scope. The rest include the new Meadowlands Stadium designed by Philadelphia-based Ewing Cole and 360 Architecture of Kansas City; the new basketball arena planned for Brooklyn’s Atlantic Yards complex designed by Frank Gehry of Los Angeles; and the new Red Bull Park soccer stadium planned for Harrison, N.J., with interior design by Rossetti Architects of Detroit.
HOK Sport was still looking for its signature venue when it broke the mold in designing Oriole Park at Camden Yards, which the Baltimore Orioles opened in 1992. The baseball-only facility, built in downtown Baltimore, changed how the upstart Kansas City-based firm was viewed in the industry.
“Camden Yards...brought us into the urban setting that paid homage to baseball’s past, which has become incredibly popular since,” says Bob White, director of marketing for HOK Sport.
The sports firm started out with five architects, all of whom had worked for Kivett & Myers, which in the late 1960’s designed the Truman Sports Complex in Kansas City, which includes Kauffman Stadium, home of Major League Baseball’s Royals, and Arrowhead Stadium, home to the National Football League’s Chiefs.
In 1987, HOK Sport designed Miami’s Joe Robbie Stadium, now known as Pro Player Stadium, one of its highest-profile jobs leading up to Camden Yards. In 1999, HOK Sport merged with London-based LOBB Sports and expanded its reach across the globe. It has now designed facilities all over the world, such as the Taipei Arena in Taiwan, built in 2005, and the new Wembley Stadium in London that opened this year.
“We have a healthy market share for which we’re very appreciative,” White says.
White says that his firm sees about 20 to 25 “major projects” on the horizon and several older stadiums in need of upgrades.
“We knew the industry was headed in a direction of globalization,” he says. “It’s certainly a finite market and we may hit a ceiling, but we think the business is still there.”
Citi Field, Flushing, N.Y.
Franchise: New York Mets, baseball
Stadium and Infrastructure Cost: $800 million
Start/Finish: Summer 2006/April 2009
Construction Manager: Joint venture of Bovis Lend Lease, New York and Hunt Construction, Indianapolis
Architect: HOK Sport, Kansas City
Scope: The new home to the Mets will fit 45,000 fans and include four restaurants, 58 luxury suites, and exhibits in commemoration of Jackie Robinson. Its design will resemble Ebbets Field, the old Brooklyn Dodgers stadium.
Progress: Installation of the foundation’s 2,800 piles finished this spring, and work was finishing on the concourse and concrete stairwells.