Wednesday, March 15, 2006

And Now The Pros' Turn...

What do they say about our somewhat-beloved stadium?

  • Tom Knott in the Washington Times:
    The design of the proposed ballpark by the Navy Yard is fairly languid, even sterile...The proposed ballpark of the Nationals looks about as warm and romantic as the National Air and Space Museum. It could double as an airport terminal. Or an office building gone wild....A ballpark usually grabs you or doesn't. The design of this one does neither.

  • Benjamin Forgey in the Washington Post:
    For whatever reason, this design has its exhilarating moments, but, in the main, is disappointing. It is not the sort of holistic, surprising, groundbreaking design that many had hoped to see. Not even close....the facades -- the long South Capitol Street elevation in particular -- seem almost blatantly mediocre, a strange transplant of degraded K Street modernism onto the blank canvas of the large, semi-industrial, semi-abandoned site in Southeast....the architects are attempting to design a building for a city that isn't there yet. Each facade is so different because the architects were responding to what planners and others kept telling them would be extremely different circumstances on each street.

  • Tom Boswell in the Post:
    [It] will either be one of the most stunning achievements in sports architecture in years, or it will be a handsome, expensive, amenity-packed, unobjectionable ballpark that falls somewhere in the middle of the major league pack....The press box, the first ever to be stuck in the nosebleed Bob Uecker section under the roof, is lousy. The press belongs in the 37,000th-best seat; fans should get the good views. I applaud the decision as I weep....If the exterior of this ballpark, thanks perhaps to the financial help of the new owner, can be done in line with the architects' preferences, then the cheers for this design may rival the hosannas for RFK Stadium when it was nationally celebrated in 1961. If the development around the new park is done in a style and on a scale that respects the integrity of the diamond at its center, then D.C.'s hard decision to build this park will draw decades of cheers. If not, maybe we'll be okay anyway. But don't say I didn't warn you.

  • Deborah Dietsch in the Times:
    The 41,000-seat stadium is engulfed by a dull ensemble of blocky, precast-concrete-and-glass structures that would look at home on K Street. This is retro architecture that harkens back to the 1970s. No strong, memorable image stands out....The new ballpark does what a lot of well-meaning buildings do in Washington. It respects the L'Enfant plan for the city and recedes into the background. On the positive side, this approach means it is not a big bowl surrounded by a sea of parking lots like RFK Stadium....Visitors approaching the stadium from the Metro stop to the north will be greeted by the four-level garage and a matching one at the northeast corner of the site. Unfortunately, the garages flank the main entrance plaza, sending a message of utilitarianism rather than inspiring design to those entering by foot....Like Camden Yards and so many of HOK Sport's previous designs, the Nationals' new ballpark is a hit in the area of urban sensitivity. But in terms of architectural excitement, this design strikes out.

  • Thomas Heath reports on the cash cow aspect of the park.
    Approximately 1,800 padded seats curling around home plate within a few feet of the players will be sold to the stadium's highest-paying customers, including 500 that will have access to an air-conditioned lounge with views of a batting practice area. Thirty luxury suites, including eight ground-level "Founder's Suites," will be stacked behind home plate for maximum views at a maximum price, probably renting for $100,000 a year and up.

  • Me at this craptacular blog: It seems like the architectural critics want it both ways. They're ripping the park for not making a bigger statement and not raising the bar. Yet, I suspect with a different design, they'd be complaining about how it's not a part of the neighborhood, and it was opressing its surroundings. To me, the feel of the park is fine. It's not great. It's not bad. It's perfectly acceptable. The reason that I'm down on it, is that we DID hear so much about that bar being raised. Instead, we got a perfectly serviceable park that will be great to see a game in. It's hard not to be happy with that, I guess.

    Still, I'd reath Knott's, Deitsch's and Forgey's full reviews. They're not overly negative despite the excerpts I used. In fact, they are quite complimentary of a number of aspects of the park's design.


    • All this hand-wringing, all this bitterness and political maneuvering, all the tall talk of a gold-plated latinum and transparent aluminum stadium...and this is what we get? An office building shielding a stadium.

      They oversold the sizzle and served a medium-rare steak. Had they set expectations realistically, there wouldn't be so many dashed hopes in the reactions.

      But, alas, I fear that Mayor Williams would have trouble selling bottled water to folks stranded in the desert for 40 days and 40 nights.

      By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3/15/2006 11:19 AM  

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