What makes a public space more inviting? The landscapes and details. Read to see how design can change a space, especially one for large crowds.
By: Mimi Lo
DG2 has had the privilege to work with HOK on the Saint Louis Major League Soccer Stadium in St Louis since 2019. In order to be more familiar to stadium design, I researched case studies about the landscapes at the other stadiums in the U.S. I picked a few relatively new MLS stadiums which were built in the past 5 years.
Before I started doing these case studies, I did not know the locations around the stadiums could be so vibrant and mesmerizing. I have only been to very few stadiums and they usually only have sidewalks around them. No planting beds, no plaza, and no intricate pavement design. However, these stadium case studies opened my mind to what a landscape architect can bring to the table.
These stadium sites have larger open space around the stadium. The entrance plaza serves as an extension of the stadium architecture. The outdoor space offers the need for fans to enter the stadium while providing a space for people to stay and rest and the space becomes attractive and enjoyable for people on both game day and non-game day. The planting selection is also interesting part of design. Landscape architects try their best to pick up native plants to create microclimate around the stadium while choose the plant type that can create the atmosphere we want.
There are some interesting details as well. Although it is difficult and more costly to have planting on the side that lack of sunlight, landscape architects can still play around with the hardscape or outdoor furnishing. Using different pavers to create pattern, beautifully designed tree grates as well as picking out the furnishing that match the overall style, all create a cohesive designed space. I am impressed with all the design decisions you could do to make the result a better space, even though it is just a small detail.
After a couple of case studies, I have changed my impression to stadium landscape design. Now I know the outdoor space outside of stadium could be vibrant, playful and enjoyable. Designing for the landscape around the stadium is different from other plazas or open spaces, as it needs to provide the functions for crowded scenario on the game days and still fit the regular daily need in people’s life. It is an open space with flexibility, multi-function and opportunity. I have learned so much from the case studies and I am so excited that St. Louis will have a new stadium with thoughtfully designed landscape soon!