Touring the Virtual Tour
November 3, 2007 3:28 PM
The new animation on the Twins web site contains a host of details which are not immediately accessible anywhere else. I managed to get a version for closer study and have pulled out some stills that may answer (and/or raise) some questions. Click on any image for a much larger version.
The overview gives a good sense of how the ballpark fits its site and nestles around the existing municipal parking ramp.
Unfortunately, there is a dead space between the ballpark and the parking ramp along the remains of Third Avenue North which caused some consternation at a committee meeting this week. From what I can tell, there was a question about who would be responsible for keeping this little nook secure. The area, which allows street access to the entrance of the ramp, also apparently will include a sidewalk connection through the main concourse to join up with the plaza.
This little area looks pretty foreboding to me, so I think it's a valid security question. I bet there's a better solution which could be found than the tall, blank, scary, dark walls shown in the animation and the new model.
Next we pass gate 29 "Carew" (the gate numbers in the animation start with gate 3 "Killebrew" on the southeast, then progress clockwise, which differs from previous renderings).
Ticket windows are visible, as are ATMs. There's not much room for ticket lines to form. We have to assume there will be some sort of control in place there to keep the lines from stretching out onto the train tracks.
Gate 29 itself is quite spacious, with steps up to the concourse level just inside. A typical concession area is visible above the gate area. Just beyond the gate area and below are the bullpens.
This view shows off one of the things I like best about the design. The purpose of the building is celebrated by not trying to hide or dress up the bottoms of the upper deck seating and its superstructure. It's a good thing when you can clearly discern the purpose of a building from the street.
The LRT tracks are visible. One thing not shown that will certainly be there is a physical barrier of some sort between pedestrians and the trains. Maybe a railing, maybe something more elaborate.
Circulation ramps: Wrigley (classic, integrated) and Kauffman (modern, external)
Next is the circulation ramp, covered by an attractive wooden screen, and surrounded by "fissures" -- which are the modern equivalents of knotholes. The wood really makes a nice counter-point to the limestone. Dave St. Peter told me a few months ago that these screens were not yet in the budget. I don't know whether that has changed, but it's such a great idea that I hope they find a way to fit it in. Of course, their presence in this round of design approvals does suggest that they will be included.
A common architectural complaint about most modern ballparks is that they tend not to build the vertical circulation (up and down ramps) into the structure, but rather tack them on the outside. The size of the site here, however, makes integrating these ramps essential. It leads to a much more elegant design, which can't help but evoke the simplicity of a previous generation of baseball stadiums.
One important thing to note here is that the knothole openings are not at ground level. Look at the dude peering in at the game. The bottom of the opening is at about chest level. Kids, find somebody's shoulders to sit on!
There's decorative lighting here, but no greenery whatsoever. This was a minor concern among some Hennepin County commissioners. But really, where are you going to put trees? And on this side, they wouldn't get any sun anyway. To me, this is a non-issue.
The "Hrbek" gate takes fans underneath the administration building and into the left field corner.
The balcony above is a nice touch which keeps with the theme of balconies all around the park. You won't be able to see a game from this one, but you can certainly watch trains come and go...
Just to the right is the Northstar rail station (the oval part).
The red roof is for the LRT station. I'm not sure that this represents an actual design for this station or just some representative idea.
Next comes the "HERC Promenade" -- the side facing the garbage burner.
There was an interesting comment from Mike Opat at last Tuesday's commissioners meeting. He was talking about how cost overruns were being handled and what exactly constitutes a "cost overrun." In that context, he said that the Twins might not have wanted to use expensive limestone on a side of the ballpark "that no one would see for ten years."
It's the last part that intrigued me because it suggested that he's already thinking about a day when that side of the ballpark would be visible. For that to happen, the HERC plant would have to go away -- which some people wish it would right now.
It sounded like one of the buildings on the HERC site is already slated to be moved or removed because of the LRT extension (which is a direct result of ballpark construction). Could this be the start of a welcome reimagining of the HERC site as a whole? We can only hope.
One thing I like about this facade (and the others too) is that even though it is an imposing height, there are periodic horizontal elements to help reduce this intimidation.
The railroad tracks run directly beneath this promenade. If there should ever be a derailment here, however, only the walkway (and the pedestrians, I suppose) would be damaged. The wall of the ballpark is reinforced to minimize the potential for damage.
I hope this becomes a bit more lively plaza. It seems like a reasonable place to put some vendors or music or something. Otherwise, there's not much reason that people will have to walk here (beyond getting to and from their entrance gate -- which hopefully won't be an issue at all because everyone will be able to enter at any gate).
And, yes, those banners say "Mauer" and "Santana." That is a bit of wishful thinking going on there...
Gate 6 "Oliva" is visible at the lower left in this still. Here's another party balcony as well, with a small sidewalk cafe beneath. It's a great addition.
More ticket windows and ATMs are visible. Unfortunately, the animation doesn't offer much in the way of a view inside this gate. From the site plan released with the new renderings, it looks like you'll step about 10 feet in, turn slightly to the right, and be looking at home plate.
This is as good a place as any to note the canopy, here colored silver. Would it be better in a champagne color? I'm not sure. In this video, it really looks like it already belongs to the same color palette as the rest of the building. Trying to get a color closer to the stone would probably be a mistake.
In several places so far we've seen these vertical segments of windows. The details show that these are elevator towers and stairwells, and that there are only emergency exit doors at the bottom.
This is the best view in the animation of gate 3 "Killebrew". The flagship pro shop is to the left, and the main ticket office is to the right.
From here you can also see the large banners hung on the parking ramp which definitely liven up the plaza.
This shot also shows pretty much everything there is for greenery around the park: six trees and a small grove growing above I-394 traffic. I wouldn't ask for anything more.
The little area of grass remains something of a mystery. Is this for people to sit on? Is it just for looks? It appears to be raised with seating along three sides and a wall along the fourth. It's primary purpose right now appears to be continuing the lines found in the architecture. Not a bad reason for existing, but still something of a puzzle.
Not quite visible in the animation, but present in the site plan, is a parking bay on the ballpark side of North Seventh Street (which would be just to the left of the image above) that looks like a place for people to park while picking up tickets. This is similar to what they have now by the Metrodome main ticket office, and it's a lifesaver. I'm glad it's included.
Now we come to the magical plaza where people float in the trees (no doubt so excited to see outdoor baseball that their feet don't touch the ground).
The plaza in the video is without little stands or music stages or anything like that. It feels inevitable that there will be such things to liven it up.
But I included this still mostly to show how the entrance gates appear in the animation -- which differs substantially from the site plan, model, and new rendering:
In the animation they emerge from the fence next to the freeway and continue its line -- through the trees -- all the way to the parking ramp. On the site plan they continue the line of the ticket booth area. On the model they start at the ticket booth area but angle inward toward the steps up to the center field pavilion. In the rendering they start somewhere beneath the balcony area and angle outward.
Clearly, this decision has not been made yet.
The reason it's important is because it determines just how much of the plaza will be inside the gates and accessible only to ticket holders. I guess that in the best of all possible worlds, a maximum amount of space would be retained on the outside, even though this increases the amount that non-paying fans can see for free.
I wonder if they know that they released four such very different ideas on the same day...
I included this still primarily because it is the best shot of those stairs at the right which lead up to the angled section of outfield seats. The previous design did not have any such stairs, and it makes a nice addition.
At left is a row of windows which, I believe, are a restaurant. But this is also the area where Santee pointed when asked about where the Ballpark Authority offices would be located.
Keep in mind that this is the main entry to the ballpark. It is assumed that the largest number of fans will enter here and see this view. That's really a great thing.
Next the camera takes a swing to the side and begins moving around the seating bowl from the right field foul pole to about the visiting team's dugout.
This still is included just to show that bench seating is being considered for certain areas. I'm trying to confirm that this is still in the final plan and not an abandoned concept.
I'm interested to hear about people's preferences about bench seating versus individual seats. As a parent, I'm thinking that bench seating would be much easier with a family, making me think also that maybe this could be designated as the family section.
But another perfect place for bench seating is the upper deck of outfield seats. There is something a little more conducive to interacting with the people around you when you're sitting on benches like this. The outfield seats at the Met were all benches, and I have fond memories of seeing games that way.
Of course, the classic example is the bleacher section at Wrigley. There the game is sort of incidental to the socializing. I got asked several times just what I was doing with my program and pencil. People wanted to gab and flirt and party and get drunk (I didn't do much of any of those, but I have a complete scorecard from the game -- yes, I'm a geek).
But it's important to note that the bleachers at Wrigley have no backs (at least they didn't at the time; I haven't been there since the renovation). This makes it a remarkably uncomfortable way to see a game. Personally, without backs I think that bleachers are torture. With backs, they are comfortable and community-inducing -- much more so than individual seats.
I have to believe that bench seating is also a cheaper option to install, requiring less maintenance as well. That's just a hunch. I'll let you know when I find out more about the current plans.
In this shot you can also see how that staircase connects to the outfield pavilion.
Here's the view from directly behind home plate. For those who thought they'd have a skyline view from here, it simply is not to be. The skyline is all to the right.
But the view which has developed isn't bad!
At Comerica Park, some aisles have railings and some do not.
Looking at the aisles made me wonder how they compare in width to the Metrodome. I remember being in Detroit and marveling at how spacious the aisles were. You never felt cramped at all going up or down, even when the park was full. Two or even three people could pass one another without bumping. Something tells me that the aisles in this new design aren't quite that wide.
A factor in that perception is the handrails which run down the center of all of the aisles in the video. At Comerica, I know that some aisles have them and some do not. I have no idea what the criteria is. Perhaps it has to do with width, and perhaps it's some sort of code thing. In the upper deck, obviously, they are a necessity. But in the lower deck they seem like an intrusion.
I just know that splitting the aisle with a railing effectively takes a single spacious aisle and turns it into two relatively narrow aisles.
This is the final shot in the animation. We've come to rest just beyond the end of the visitor's dugout (yes, the Twins will move back to the first base dugout at the new field -- where God intended home teams to be).
This is where the skyline view really begins.
Also from here you can get a decent look at what the concept of a "split upper deck" means in this park. It essentially refers to two decks, one which reaches down from the upper concourse, and one which is up another flight of stairs and above the upper concourse.
To me, this isn't really a split upper deck at all, but two separate decks. There is no question that the seats below the upper concourse will be substantially more expensive than those above. And the view will be proportionately better.
My idea of a split upper deck is something like they have at Wrigley or Anaheim. You enter the upper deck at about the halfway point, and there is a walkway in either direction separating the lower portion from the upper portion. But it's only about two or three steps up to the upper seats -- just enough to get fans above the heads of people walking by in the walkway.
This is the upper deck in Anaheim
I've sat in the cheap seats above such walkways many times, and they represent a great trade-off in terms of price and view. That might not be the case if they were a full story higher.
The trade-off -- and this may be a deal-breaker for some -- is the ability to see out from the upper concourse onto the field. In the current design of the Twins park, from the upper concourse you will still be able to see out to the field. From the upper concourse at Wrigley (such as it is) or Anaheim you cannot.
My question to designers is: Do fans really need to see out from the upper concourse to the field? The lower concourse, yes, of course they do. But the upper concourse probably need not be that way.
In fact, the trade-off really couldn't be worth it. The most you'll be able to see from the upper concourse is probably one outfielder -- hardly enough to get a sense of what's going on. Video monitors will serve better for that purpose in the upper concourse. But in order to give that very limited view, you've pushed the upper deck (already way up there above the suite level) up another whole story!
I think it's possible that many if not most upper deck fans would be willing to give up the concourse view of the field to get 20 feet or more closer to the action. This upper deck fan certainly would.
* * *
There's much more to discuss in the new renderings and site plan. I hope to get to these in the next couple of days. If you haven't already looked at the animation, view it here. Thanks for stopping by today!
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This page was last modified on January 26, 2010.