|Posted by [email protected] on August 4, 2015 at 4:35 PM|
D.C. United has hired an architect and surveyed potential corporate ticket buyers about seating preferences as it moves forward with plans to build its new stadium in Southwest D.C.
Populous, the Kansas City-based sports design and architecture firm that designed Camden Yards and Nationals Park, will also design the United stadium after the team signed the firm in late July.
The firm was considered a likely choice because of its work on behalf of the team a year ago, when Populous produced renderings of a possible stadium on Buzzard Point for the team to use in marketing materials.
“We have been working with them for over a year and have developed a comfort level in terms of their experience in the region, in this particular field and in our communication with them,” said Tom Hunt, United chief operating officer.
While new soccer-dedicated stadiums have already been built for most other Major League Soccer teams, United still plays in the too-large and deteriorating RFK Stadium. Jon Knight and Joe Spear, Populous senior principals, said they wanted to create a stadium that would bring fans close to the action, offering an intimacy that Spear said could feel “intimidating for the opposing teams.”
“We want to create what I would say is a first-class experience for fans in D.C. that have stood by the team and have had to endure watching games in a football stadium, which is not ideal,” Knight said.
Then-known as HOK Sport, Populous helped usher in a new era of ballpark design with the brick, retro feel of Camden Yards. The company has worked on other local facilities including M&T Bank Stadium, home to the National Football League’s Baltimore Ravens, and Georgetown University’s basketball training center, as well as Major League Soccer stadiums in Houston, Kansas City, Denver and Orlando.
The design of Nationals Park isn’t celebrated in every corner. When it debuted in 2008, Washington Post architecture critic Philip Kennicott praised the park’s sight lines but concluded that it was “a machine for baseball and for sucking the money out of the pockets of people who like baseball, and it makes no apologies about its purely functional design.”