Warriors choose Norwegian firm Snøhetta to design SF arena

This one’s out of left field. The Warriors announced today that the firm they’ll have design their waterfront arena is Snøhetta, a Norwegian firm. Snøhetta’s an interesting choice because according to Joe Lacob, they were chosen for their waterfront expertise. Snøhetta doesn’t have extensive sports venue experience, but they are doing one local project of note – the expansion of SF MOMA.

SF MOMA expansion rendering by Snøhetta

As far as waterfront buildings, the two most cited are the Oslo Opera House and the Bibliotheca Alexandrina in Alexandria, Egypt. Both are notable in how they seemingly “slide” into the sea adjacent to the buildings. Both of these  venues are not arenas, obviously. What they are for Joe Lacob and Peter Guber are shining examples of how to make iconic venues on the water. That’s what they’re going for. Most arenas in the U.S. are utlitarian in nature, little more than concrete, steel, and glass boxes. If Lacob and Guber are trying reaching to attain Sydney Opera House (another Scandinavian-designed venue) status, they are to be applauded.

Oslo Opera House along the Oslofjord

Making an arena truly iconic is no small task. Most arenas have façades consisting of repetitive patterns of cladding over concrete or glass and steel. Recent attempts to break up arenas into multiple spaces using additional exterior elements and different types of materials have had mixed results. From a distance, an arena is squat, not tall, and often slab-sided. No new renderings or sketches came with the press release. Nevertheless, I look forward to what Snøhetta has to offer. In particular, I hope that Snøhetta finds a way to accentuate the Bay and the SF skyline, as I suggested in May. In a town where just about anything can become instantly controversial, the Warriors’ arena concept is destined to provoke lots of discussion. I imagine that Lacob and Guber wouldn’t have it any other way.

Snøhetta won’t be alone in this endeavor. They’re partnering with AECOM, a huge design and management company that acquired sports architecture firm Ellerbe Becket in 2009. Ellerbe Becket worked on 14 NBA and NHL arenas over the last 20 years.

4 thoughts on “Warriors choose Norwegian firm Snøhetta to design SF arena

  1. Aecom’s experience building a LEED arena for University of Oregon should come in handy, despite the smaller scale. Bring on the renderings!!

  2. Promising choice.

  3. That Oslo Operahouse is awesome… Something like that in SF would be world renowned.

  4. Just got back from the “Oakland Loves Our Teams” rally at Frank Ogawa Plaza. From me, my friends and my other ex-Warriors fans compatriots, I’d like to extend a hearty “up yours” to the Golden State Warriors.

    I’d like to add, “When your exorbitant arena plans fall through, don’t bother crawling back to Oakland. Seek your loyalty in towns that can afford to pay for the tickets. I hear San Jose is looking like an attractive option. Maybe you can wedge your new arena into Woodside if the Pier thing doesn’t work out.”

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