There is a façade after all

The A’s put out some updated renderings of their vision at Howard Terminal. You can see some of the images at the A’s Oakland Ballpark site. I’m going to do a bit of a deep dive, so stick around for that.

First up, a glimpse of that retractable batter’s eye (click on each picture for a larger version).

I imagine the final color will be forest green or black, and covered with flat paint or non-reflective vinyl. There’s also a chance it could be used as signage, so it may be best to stick with a more neutral color. In the end, it is the batter’s eye, so the vision of batters will come first.

The other thing I immediately noticed from this image: light standards! These will supplement the main lights which will be tucked under the rim of the roof deck. The LED lights will be angled down towards the field, and I suppose the outfield light standards will as well, though it is those light standards that will arouse complaints from the Bar Pilots. The most similar lighting design from a true outdoor stadium (no retractable roof) I can think of is at Red Bull Arena in Harrison, NJ.

A few notes on the above picture: You can see the lights beneath the roof deck rim. They are arranged in squares, which might look something like this. The intriguing aspect of the above pic is the presence of red pyramids. I have to assume that they’re tents, but what if they were something else? Monuments? Obelisks? Whatever the case, I can tell you what’s gone: hobbit holes. Perhaps the A’s brass got sick of all the LOTR references (*raises hand*) and while I can’t blame them if they did, surely they know by now that we talked about hobbit holes mostly out of love and only partly in jest, the same way we would talk about second breakfast. The hobbit holes have been replaced by larger openings. And I can’t forget the big statue of Rickey beyond the scoreboard.

Perhaps the big takeaway is that the ballpark itself has transformed from a “jewel box” squarish shape to a circular one reminiscent of the Coliseum. The seating bowl maintains its minimal foul territory and angles at the foul poles. The roof deck looks like a big green “O”, which should look great via an overhead blimp or helicopter shot. The roof deck should also easier to navigate if it becomes a public space such as a park. In the image below, you can also see the descent from the corners to centerfield, which has a series of little platforms facing the field at different elevations. There’s also a big statue of an elephant on the first base side.

My initial take on the architecture was some surprise at the seeming lack of exterior treatment. The new version has a façade made of concrete, steel, or wood that gives the whole exterior a vertical blind effect. Glass curtainwall is played out, so this is a refreshing change.

You can also see the circulation inside through the facade. I personally loved how that was visible in the old Oakland Coliseum Arena. Here fans could go directly to the roof deck via the sloped sections or take escalators or stairs on the main concourses.

As for the bullpens – there’s space for them, though not necessarily the space you prefer. I consider it in flux.

12 thoughts on “There is a façade after all

  1. I like the changes.

    One of the bigger changes are the areas under the right and left field bleachers. No sure what those areas are supposed to be, but they look like gathering areas for large groups or parties. I’m guessing there would be clear plexiglass separating the area from the actual field of play. The renderings on the A’s site also shows what looks to be the bullpens in the right and left field corners. Those weren’t there in the initial drawings.

  2. I absolutely love the new façade with the blinds look, I hope it stays in final rendition (if it gets built), it adds a classy and sophisticated look to it.

    Also, the new sloping down of the roof garden to the street surface is really nice.

  3. I like the changes to the ballpark too. This would be a real landmark and I would love going to games here. I’m not as excited about the changes to the surrounding buildings. But I think I was one of 3 people that liked the triangular look and assume these do a similar job in blocking the wind, so no big loss there. Overall, I feel like the design is moving forward wonderfully. I am less optimistic about the political side of things, given the groups that are aligning against it. But I retain hope that those can be addressed or otherwise overcome.

    On another topic, I’m very disappointed that the football team came crawling back. I was so happy to finally be rid of them. What a downer to start the season.

  4. This is progress. It was clear when they released the original renders that it wasn’t all the way thought through as of yet. I like everything about these updates better than what came before.

    As I told my brother: “This reminds me of Kauffman Stadium and the big thing we both didn’t like about Kauffman was where it was not how it was designed.” Where it was- middle of a parking lot outside of the city.

    I like that they went circular rather than square. I love that the pyramid buildings, which would be dated in no time, are no longer part of the visions, I like that the buildings that replace the pyramids in this vision include roof top spots that look into the stadium, I like that there are bullpens.

    I miss the dagobah/hobbit huts and the party barge. But those weren’t really material to me anyway.

    Good work adapting the plan… now cement the final vision and hopefully get digging before 2023 (I still think it is more likely that a stadium opens in 2026 or so rather than 2023, if at all).

  5. I want a call to the bullpen to be unique. Put it the bullpens on that grassy roof behind home plate and make relievers zip line in to the mound. Or just build them inside the bowels of the stadium, adjacent to the clubhouses, so that relievers can be in the dugout all game and just retreat into the clubhouse when they go to the pen.

  6. @ML

    That article that you posted on twitter concerning what the SSA had to say about port of Oakland expansion (the need of), seems like a really big deal…ballpark, or no ballpark?

    • It is a really big deal and isn’t a surprise. I interviewed a candidate for Mayor way back when and he mentioned that as a barrier to Howard Terminal then, and Howard Terminal wasn’t even a real consideration he was telling me this in the context of why Victory Court (VICTORY COURT?!?!?!) was a superior site.

    • Indeed. It affects Schnitzer too. All of this as the Port is *expanding*. I see some people trying to paint this in simple terms. That’s foolish.

    • I’m not trying to diminish the importance of the SSA issue, but the article said that the A’s would be willing to cede the land needed for the ship turnaround area.

      I like the updated design and the new details.

      The opposition of those environmental groups to the ballpark project makes no sense. It would clean up the site and greatly improve public access to the waterfront — two important goals for lands adjacent to the Bay/Estuary.

  7. Hi ML, I saw your Twitter poll. I read that the real reason for the late hang-up is related to the lease of their HQ on Alameda. Not sure what the exact discussion point is, but that’s apparently the topic.

  8. So where are the home run lines? It doesn’t look like there’s an OF wall. Do balls that roll out of CF count as a ground rule double?

    So it’s confirmed there are no OF bleachers?

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