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Minnesota Vikings stadium needs better urban design

streets.mn
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The architecture of the Minnesota Vikings Stadium: take it or leave it?

Personally, I think it looks like a cross between a laser jet printer, a drunk Frank Gehry and something out of 2001: A Space Odyssey. This is not a compliment. However, be this as it may, preference on architectural styling, no one should be surprised as this is the usual forgettable stuff that post-modernist firms like HKS Architects have been creating for quite some time.

I’ve been a critic of professional sports financing for a long time and will continue to be; but now that it’s a reality that the Vikings will get a new home, I’d like to see it be as good as possible. That means we need a combination of respectful architecture and urban design. This proposal fails on both fronts.

For all it’s faults, the City of Indianapolis built Lucas Oil Stadium. It’s a large, expensive taxpayer subsidizes stadium, but it does pay homage to classical architecture. It doesn’t always have the best street frontage, but it still pretends the pedestrian exists. Going into tonight, I had my fingers crossed that we’d get something similar to Indianapolis.

The architecture and urban design of the new Vikings stadium are bad, at best. I’ll ignore architecture here. The urban design isn’t shaping out to be an improvement over the current footprint of the Metrodome. Urban design is very important, and for this reason, I ask the City of Minneapolis Council to consider that upon their approval of the site plan.

Courtesy of the Minnesota Vikings

Along the plaza, facing the current Metrodome light rail station, a large plaza opens up to large glass walls. This will likely be an impressive sight from inside the new stadium, but it won’t do much for pedestrian activity or promoting a lively streetscape during non-game days. The plaza needs more activity.

Courtesy of the Minnesota Vikings

It’s a large building that adds a small park to the Metrodome’s existing footprint. We need more. But, what’s a green space with an active surrounding? The park like space will likely be empty without adjacent buildings nearby to add activity.

Courtesy of the Minnesota Vikings

There are no new improved transportation connections between the Downtown East neighborhood and the rest of downtown or the River. It’s basically a new, modern rendition of the Metrodome: an over-sized, unquestionably ugly spaceship that adds nothing to the built environment.

Courtesy of the Minnesota Vikings

The large plaza will be lively during the football season, but will likely be a wind-swept space during regular 9 to 5 Monday-Saturday. It’s a large, nondescript plaza that pays homage to the stadiums large set of windows, and not to the surrounding environment.

Courtesy of the Minnesota Vikings

This will arguably be the worst part of the stadium. It’s a large, multistory blank wall. No activity here except a parking lot and some emergency exit doors. It’s blank, dark and ignores the urban environment. This is unacceptable – a 5 to 6 story blank wall? No windows. A few doors. Lots of emptiness.

Courtesy of the Minnesota Vikings

There really isn’t much here that will act as an improvement in the urban design department, and it is hard to see how a building like this will promote additional development. Who would want to live by a monolithic, mega church of a building that only occasionally pays homage to the cultural Gods of Football. It’ll be empty 95% of the time and chaotic the other 5%.

Now, with e-pulltabs being as they are, all we need to do now is find a way to pay for it (and, if you don’t care for it, well – if history repeats itself, it’ll likely be torn down in about 20 years).

This post was written by Nathaniel M. Hood and originally published on streets.mn. Follow streets.mn on Twitter: @streetsmn.

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Comments (3)

Hey! it's a football stadium.

Hey! it's a football stadium.

It looks like something other than a football stadium, in many respects, and certainly doesn't look like the Dome. All complaints here about the street are irrelevant; the architects were asked to design a football stadium, which is large and is unused--vacant and lonely--most of the time. They did pretty well.

You could try to make some suggestions about the private developments to go up around the new stadium. Because this public/private entity is a done deal (I laugh when you suggest that there is any architectural talent on the Minneapolis city council that would negate--or try to modify!--this design).

It's a football stadium in an urban area...

...not in the middle of nowhere. A good architect would take into account the surroundings. This design does not do that. From the blinding glare it will cast to the towering blankness.

The more I see of this new stadium....

the more I am mesmerized by it’s sheer stature on the Minneapolis skyline. The architects did a fantastic job! The hidden inner meaning of it’s shape ( for Viking fans) is one to be applauded. What we see here folks is a viking boat sailing west to conquer new worlds. Just like our ancient viking brethren did over a century ago. We have AD standing on the bow, looking over the football seas. He is leading the way to accomplish what he believes ( and any true viking fan) will be what the Viking warriors of Scandinavia achieved. To conquer the (football) land and be the most feared badasses in the WORLD!…..(echoing)….