Friday, July 01, 2005

A's Stadium Architects Prosper From False Rep

With the constant discussion of building the A's a new ballpark at the Oakland estuary, presumably a retro-looking, waterfront edifice, the very informative blog Field of Schemes, which is devouted municipally-funded stadiums; has this new take on the supposed genius of Baltimore's trend-setting park, Camden Yards:

Philip Bess, who was a Chicago-based stadium consultant at the time, tells FoS that "the White Sox always wanted a Chicago version of Royals Stadium," and hired HOK because they'd worked on that 1970s modernist stadium. Moreover, as Peter Richmond made clear in his book Ballpark, about the building of Camden Yards, the Baltimore park's since-imitated "retro" design wasn't even HOK's idea. As then-O's (and now Red Sox) president Larry Lucchino told Richmond of HOK's work on Camden Yards, "[New] Comiskey would have been the stadium they'd have built, given free rein."

Since its construction in 1990, the new Comiskey has been villified for just missing the retro ballpark craze that unfolded after Camden Yards opened three years later. It's interesting that because of external change in the Camden's design, the architects at HOK have subsequently prospered by this false reputation.

Aside from Camden Yards and SBC Park seven years later, has HOK designed a truly substantial retro park? It should be noted that both those stadiums gain much of their quirkiness and intimacy from pre-existing factors like a wherehouse in rightfield and a large body of water.