Tuesday, February 01, 2005

The New Ballpark

District of Baseball links to a Washington Times story about the design competition for the new SE ballpark, noting that the District wants "a stadium that veers sharply away from the bevy of recently built, retro-inspired facilities and pushes sports design into another generation."

Yikes! That news is exciting and worrisome at the same time. While I agree with the sentiment that we shouldn't simply build another Camden Yards here, trying to come up with a ballpark that "pushes sports design into another generation" is both hard and risky. In 1968, a lot of people thought Veterans Stadium was a design for the next generation -- and it turned out to be one for less than half of a generation.

But I thought I'd use this post to open a discussion of what we'd like to see in the new ballpark. Frankly, I'd be happy with a design that echoes the classical architecture of the Federal Triangle buildings of the 1930s and 1940s (Main Commerce, Justice, IRS etc.) -- staid, yes, but in my view timeless and essentially Washington.

As for other features, I would say definitely no retractable roof. Other things I am still pondering. Thoughts?


At 4:25 PM, Blogger rumbaugm said...

What I really want for the stadium to face out toward downtown. When I watch TV highlights, I want to see the Capitol Dome and Washington Monument. Especially at night when they're lit up. Any other consideration is way down the list. Quirky outfield dimensions? Sure. Pretty brick walls? Whatever. Just make sure the darn thing faces the right way so that we end up with the most spectacular view in the major leagues, bar none.

At 7:01 PM, Blogger DM said...

I agree that it would be nice to see the DC skyline, but there may be a problem with that. It is not much of a view from that part of SE. I fear that we will have a great view of the SE/SW freeway.

Also, it goes without saying that I think the park should have (1) natural grass; (2) asymmetrical outfield; (3) good out of town scoreboard, as part of one wall. I also prefer bullpens behind the fences.

At 7:36 PM, Blogger tmk67 said...

After the SABR meeting Saturday, Nats VP Kevin Uhlich said the team was not focused on stadium design right now, but that he would like to see a Capitol dome view in the outfield, which could be accomplished by putting home plate in the Southwest corner. That configuration would also be "proper" in baseball geography, making lefty pitchers true Southpaws.

The stadium should be neoclassical, like the rest of the Federal district, constructed of white marble, granite and concrete, and be adorned with columns and pillars. That is decidedly not "baseball retro", which really harks back to warehouses and railroad yards (even in places where none such exist, like Arlington, Texas!). Rather than a Coke bottle, I would like to see arches and ballastrades in the outfield, to frame the Dome. There would be no baseball stadium like it. Think original Yankee Stadium (though much smaller) and the original Soldier Field in Chicago (before the monsterous UFO renovation a couple years ago.)

At 12:32 AM, Blogger Mark said...

How about something like the old Palace of the Fans in Cincinnati?

At 6:39 AM, Blogger The Natsural said...

No monuments! For a baseball stadium, I think an architectural connection to the rest of federal washington is NOT the way to go. The two most beautiful buildings in Washington are the Indian Museum and the National Cathedral and they are NOT federal. They're so different from the rest of what we've got, they make all of the fed buildings look stodgy (which they are!).

Plus marble's expensive and if we go for a Washingtonian look we're going to sacrifice in other ways (like amenities!).

A baseball park should be a park not a monument. You want a place where you escape from work, you get to enjoy a nice summer day, you get a cool breeze coming in from the river (and let me tell you, come August a breeze is going to mean a lot more than a view of the Capitol dome!)

We need a building that's about baseball. It's going to need some kind of open look to the river so we can get that breeze. And we need food that's as good as Camden. In fact, we should steal Boog's.

At 11:19 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

There's enough wind blowing from the halls of Congress to provide a steady breeze without the ballpark facing the river.

At 4:03 PM, Blogger DM said...

I agree the ballpark should be primarily a park and not a monument, but Washington also has good examples of memorials/monuments that are very park-like, with clearly traditional style but also open, accessible and airy. The new WWII memorial really fits well into the park-like setting of the mall, as does the FDR memorial. I think you can do the same with the ballpark.

I just hope the District doesn't carry the whole "we're being occupied by the Federal Government" antagonism (which rejected the Senators name and apparently prevented the Capitol from being part of the logo) too far and come up with a design that is ugly, so they can make some sort of political statement.


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