Two words: UGH. LEE.

I just got a look at HNTB’s concept for the new 49ers stadium:

hntb-stadium1

How uninspiring. It doesn’t help that the gold seats appear beige in the picture. Gone are the sweeping lines of the HOK design. So is the Mills mall, and with it, probably the $100 million that was promised for the project by the city (because of the jobs that come with the mall). The boxy layout is eerily reminiscent of work done by HNTB across the bay, otherwise known as Mount Davis. In fact, take the entire sideline section in shadow. Does it not look just a little like the Coliseum outfield?

It should be pointed out that like the A’s ballpark concept by 360, there’s no exterior treatment on this stadium, so it can’t be judged by a face that doesn’t exist. Still, while stacking the suites and boxes on one side of the field is commendable for cost-cutting and better sightlines for fans, the whole package can’t help but look a bit like a bloated SEC college football stadium. The concept works well for Ford Field, where it’s wrapped in a neat gimmick – the use of an office building in the stadium bowl covered by a dome – but it doesn’t look right in this case. That big structure behind the suites looks like a retaining wall to prevent the nearby hill from collapsing onto it.

Supposedly the design is flexible enough to work as an Olympic stadium should the time come in 2016. I can see where the use of large numbers of portable seats (also like Mt. Davis) could make such a concept work. The open north end should facilitate this as well. But does anyone remember what Atlanta’s Olympic Stadium looked like prior to its conversion to Turner Field? Thought so. This design just deadpans “bland.”

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