Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Lists and Lists and Lists of Sustainable Sports Stadiums

I was doing some research on an unrelated project and stumbled across the fact there seems to be little content addressing the overall state of enviromental sustainability in sports stadiums. Definitely there were a lot of lists. But no one seems to have taken the time to draw any conclusions about the field. 

Stadium architecture is interesting for a couple of reasons: They are often high-profile and have big budgets; there are a couple of challenges enforced by the high occupancy load that can affect the form of the building. Industrial scale HVAC systems and the necessity of strong exit patterns etc. limit design options in certain ways and aren't a lot of fun to deal with. That said, stadiums like Texas' AT&T Stadium do take advantage of the freedom to explore radical design options. In the picture accompanying this post notice the HUGE depressed arches which at once are structural solution and architectural feature.

Texas AT&T Stadium. 

Not to diminish HKS Architects and Walter P Moore Engineers accomplishment we probably shouldn't leave the topic without noting that despite many sustainability measures being implemented across the site, Texas AT&T Stadium and others like it still use the same amount of electricity as a small city. Recycling programs; solid waste reduction; natural light. Across the sector sport stadiums have barely made a dent in electricity consumption. Some of this is reasonable given that a large stadium can be compared to condensing a small city into one place. However, efficiencies should arise due to the increased density and yet these savings don't seem to be realizable in the current state-of-the-art stadium architecture.  

Shrinking in scale somewhat, I think recreation centres offer a much more interesting design challenge. Here one is faced with the true integration of multiple functions (how to get squash players to play nicely with badminton players) and here some of the limitations of occupancy load and HVAC systems discussed earlier can be treated more flexibly. A recreation center which continues to set an example for the sector is the Auburn University's Recreation and Wellness Center in Alabama. HOK did an excellent job creating some really interesting interior spaces and as a runner I thought it was a nice touch to include a 1/3-mile figure-8 running track. (The cherry on top would have been if one of these awesome augmented reality climbing walls had been included!) I wish the project had tried to pushed past LEED Silver but we'll take what we can get. I also have some questions about the exterior styling but this might be a factor of not having a more detailed sense of its surroundings.  

Auburn University's Recreation and Wellness Center

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