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The Magic of the Event

April 28, 2007 11:07 PM

We all had a good celebration, didn't we? Now it's back to some fretting and wondering. Even though the Twins have signed the lease, the railroad issue remains unresolved, and the land owners are getting even more lawyered-up. Though everyone's talking like the bulldozers will be getting to work pretty soon, it remains to be seen. There's a big (new, I think) sign at the entrance of the Rapid Park lot which tries to make it look like they'll be there for a while.

So, while there's daylight ahead, I still see some woods. It's too early to really celebrate.

A little bit of miscellaneous for today:

After writing about the Twins design, and the unremarkable way it will appear on the horizon, it occurred to me: that's exactly how you might build a roof-ready park. Could there be a reason behind maintaining such a low profile?

The Vikings released some sketches, but it hardly constitutes a design. It's just a few concepts, and a working draft of a site plan, but I like it. I'll admit, though, that it's hard to imagine anything happening on such a project for at least a couple of legislative cycles.

Another stadium resource became available for really cheap on Amazon, and it yielded even more to think about as I look at the Twins drawings. The introductory essay hits the most important concepts in an eloquent fashion:

Rome of the Carolinas
By Peter Cook
Excerpted from the essay found in The Stadium: Architecture for the New Global Culture by Rod Sheard.

The Colosseum

Sitting there in Rome -- and not just a craggy old monument -- the Colosseum still oozes action and power. Its form races round in space with that tricky -- but tempting -- ability to grab a 'dynamic' and transmit a sense of that grabbing over the two thousand years of its existence.

We don't just need to be prompted by Technicolor blockbusters with surround sound to remind us of what went on, because it's surely there in the stone and the serried arches that swish past us. the body of the building is, of course, the massive construct that held all those screaming onlookers. Its soul: the now silent field. No plaza, no stage, no altar, no dais -- can approach its aura of dramatic expectation. Yet the architecture is direct, the geometry is obvious, and the architectural rhetoric (despite all the heroism) is remarkably well under control.

The Pantheon

The Pantheon (with inset of the magic eye)

The Pantheon, by contrast, has to resort to devices -- its magic eye is brilliantly cunning, of course, but nonetheless it is a contrivance.

So there, in a nutshell, is the basic challenge of architecture. How to deftly capture the magic? Especially when dealing with the challenge of the Event: the Game and the assembly are theatre. The body can somehow celebrate the sense of expectation -- at every stage from turnstile, cloakroom, bar, television room, players' tunnel, and even more so when these things intertwine and feed each other. Put a body of people queuing, hustling and rustling, and you have something infinitely more electric than a town of similar size to that crowd. ...

Another vagabond's memory, this time from South Carolina: after an hour's drive from the airport, through lush and well-tempered countryside, there was a sudden vision. Like Bluebeard's castle on acid, an enormous, beautiful thing loomed up out of the trees: not apparently surrounded by anything in particular. This, the stadium of Clemson (and its University which was there, somewhere under the trees) seemed to come out of a fairytale. It had class, it had guts and it certainly had presence, though oddly enough, I don't remember much about the architecture except, like the team, it felt GREAT.

Clemson Memorial Stadium

Clemson Memorial Stadium

So we have the stadium as point of arrival, as point of focus, and in terms of urban theory: the point of departure. From a well-honed, well-sited, and (I would suggest) a well-infested event structure we can conjure up a wonderful 'town' of the 21st century.

In our day-to-day survival, we have moved into the world of the hybrid. We live in the reality of the folded-over experience, with fun-and-games as seriousness: one activity as a trigger for other activities, with a crowd rumbling through the turnstiles with a variety of needs or indulgences to be tapped. The best and most ingenious architects are celebrating and articulating the magic of the event -- with a giant arch or a sweeping curve; a slithering, moving canopy; a preying, gesticulating gangway or a striding leg or two on the go. Yet simultaneously they are beginning to incorporate witty combinations of activity; some circumstantial, some entrepreneurial and many 'inspired'.

This bears repeating:

The best and most ingenious architects are celebrating and articulating the magic of the event -- with a giant arch or a sweeping curve; a slithering, moving canopy; a preying, gesticulating gangway or a striding leg or two on the go.

This nicely sums up the drama which I think is still missing from the Twins design. I know that they have a lot of logistics to figure out first, but let's hope that someone within the organization harbors dreams of great architecture -- not just a functional facility or revenue machine. Truthfully, aspiring to great architecture might just be the best thing they could do for their bottom line.

I originally christened my site "Ballpark Magic" because that's what I always felt out in rusty old Met Stadium. That place, for all it's chain link fencing, really did embody the magic of the event of a baseball game. And this is the standard by which we should consider all of the plans we see for the new park:

Will the architecture celebrate the magic of the event?

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This page was last modified on January 21, 2010.



"You talk about the magic, the aura, but what really makes a stadium is the fans. Concrete doesn't talk back to you. Chairs don't talk back to you. It's the people who are there, day in, day out, that makes the place magic."

– Bernie Williams

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The back row of seats in straight-away center. Note that, beyond those seats, you can see the planters (for flowers) on the front of the Left Field Bleachers.(Batters Eye)



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Rally Hanky (2002 ALCS)



Emergency access viewed in context









The lot within the lot.



You have to wonder just what happened here. Will it remain forever embedded in cement?






Scoreboard installation in progress



Click to enlarge greatly.



Guerrier had tossed a ball to a fan wearing a Twins jersey, who dropped it. If you're going to wear the uniform, he was saying, you gotta make the play. The ball ultimately went to a fan wearing a Randy Moss jersey, and everybody laughed.



Limestone facing and flowers on the right field overhang






Condiments! (complete with faux limestone on the cart -- nice touch)



Catwalks provide access to the View Level seats (from the Ballpark Authority July update)



Larry DiVito, mowing



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Seventh inning sing-along.






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