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Ringside Seats: Seven Sports Facilities Change the Global Game

  • PROJECT NAME Roundup: Seven Sports Facilities
  • FIRM Multiple

From Tokyo to Truro, world capitals to remote crossroads, sports have the power to transform cities. As some metropolises gear up to host global events, others are using sports, and the facilities that house them, to inject a shot of adrenaline to neighborhoods in need of a boost. Whether it’s a venue for soccer or swimming, hockey or track and field, Interior Design looks at seven projects—recent and upcoming—that prove the design worth of these vigorous pursuits.


Zaha Hadid’s daring design for a New National Stadium answered Japan’s Olympic-sized dreams—it played an integral role in clinching Tokyo’s bid to host the 2020 Summer Games. With Brazil set to welcome millions of fútbol fanatics this summer for the 2014 World Cup, it’s not just the soccer pitch that will be green. Sustainably-designed stadiums are popping up in cities across the sport’s juggernaut nation. In Doha, Perkins Eastman designs a soccer stadium with Middle Eastern flair.


Other projects may not take the world stage, but their impact on the local community is just as great. In northern England, the new Leeds Arena by Populous is a focal point of the regeneration of the city quarter. In Chicago, Studio Gang completed a state-of-the-art boathouse that is a cornerstone of Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s riverfront revitalization plan. In New York, a city council vote in December to approve the transformation of a long-abandoned armory building in the Bronx into the Kingsbridge National Ice Center was a parting victory for former Mayor Michael Bloomberg. And as for Truro, the small Canadian town’s new recreation center by Perkins + Will also offers ice rinks for the hockey-obsessed, along with other activities focused on improving the health and wellness of the inhabitants of Nova Scotia’s inland hub.


1. Firm: Zaha Hadid Architects

Project: New National Stadium of Japan, Tokyo

Standout: The venue for the opening and closing ceremonies and track and field events of the Tokyo 2020 Games, the futuristic design replaces a 50-year-old facility built for the 1964 Olympics and features a retractable roof and seating for a whopping 80,000 visitors.


2. Firm: Populous

Project: Leeds Arena, Leeds, UK

Standout: The flexible design of this multipurpose facility hosts professional sports events and concerts within a striking steel, aluminum, glass and polycarbonate shell that houses up to 12,500 seats, 24 hospitality boxes, several restaurants, and an adaptable entrance area that can be used as a winter garden.


3. Firm: Studio Gang Architects

Project: WMS Boathouse at Clark Park, Chicago

Standout: The 22,620-square-foot complex features a training center, boat storage facility, a floating launch dock, row tanks, ergometer machines, communal space, and an office for the Chicago Park District in a design that translates the time-lapse motion of rowing into an architectural roof form that lets in southern light through an upper clerestory.


4. Firm: Perkins + Will

Project: Truro Civic Recreation Center, Truro, Nova Scotia

Standout: Surrounded on all sides by off ramps and service roads, the dynamic design addresses the speed and scale of the TransCanada highway in a structure that houses a 2,700 seat venue arena for ice hockey, trade shows and concerts, an 8-lane competitive pool, leisure tank and slide, an indoor rock climbing facility, and a fitness center.


5. Firm: Vigliecca e Associados with Otek

Project: Castelão Arena, Fortaleza, Brazil

Standout: As the first of the 12 venues to be completed, the 60,000-seat stadium is the first in South America to earn LEED certification with a sustainable design and construction that reduces the use of natural resources, water, and energy throughout the 2014 World Cup from June 12 to July 13, and its ongoing use.


6. Firm: Stadium Consultants International

Project: Kingsbridge National Ice Center, Bronx, New York

Standout: The $320 million project calls for nine professional-sized, year-round rinks inside the cavernous space of a nearly 100-year-old, abandoned armory building to become the largest ice sports facility in the world.


7. Firm: Perkins Eastman

Project: Lekhwiya Sports Complex Stadium, Doha, Qatar

Standout: Home to Qatar's premier soccer team, this 10,000-seat open air stadium is part of a larger complex that will eventually include an Olympic swimming pool center, multi-purpose hall, two practice fields, a 120-key hotel, and a fitness track.