Wednesday, July 19, 2000

Ballpark designs not all decided

Board looks at outer buildings

By Dan Klepal
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        The design of the white steel Great American Ball Park is set in stone, but approval of the final design of the ballpark might still be more than a year away.

        It's the outer buildings, the four brick structures surrounding the ballpark, that members of the city's Urban Design Review Board (UDRB) say need continued work.

        The UDRB is a group of volunteer architects appointed by Cincinnati City Manager John Shirey to work with Kansas City-based ballpark designers HOK Sport on the facility's final look.

        Mr. Shirey said a permit for crews to begin digging the ballpark's foundation will be delivered in early August.

        “We're sensitive to the construction schedule and they've already filed for the foundation permit,” Mr. Shirey said. “But the design will be approved in stages, and so the final design won't be approved until well after construction has started.”

        A UDRB meeting on the ballpark was opened to the public Tuesday night. Those meetings have previously been closed-door sessions, and The Cincinnati Enquirer has filed a lawsuit to have them opened.

        A large part of the discussion Tuesday focused on so-called “super-graphics” which will cover windows of the Reds administrative offices.

        Michael Schuster, the team's architectural consultant, said the specific artwork hasn't been decided on, but the point is to use it as a symbol of baseball lore.

        UDRB member John Senhauser cautioned that the graphic may not be necessary.

        “There is a point where the graphic no longer becomes a symbol, it becomes a sign,” Mr. Senhauser said. “It's paint. That isn't what the park is about.

        “When we have to pander by putting up nostalgic pictures, we're not doing anything meaningful.”

        The other major discussion concerned what the outer buildings should look like as they face Crosley Terrace, the area between the buildings and the ballpark where the majority of fans will pass.

        UDRB members are concerned that too much brick might be used on those facades, making it look too much like the facade facing the street. Mr. Schuster countered that too much steel and glass will give the buildings a cold, mechanical feel.

        “As soon as you wrap brick around those buildings, they become objects in a plaza,” rather than a part of the ballpark, said UDRB board member David Niland, adding that the idea should be to have fans feel as if they're already inside the ballpark when they walk into the plaza.

        Mr. Schuster said he is pleased with the progress on the design.

        “It's a great process, and it will make a better ballpark in the end,” Mr. Schuster said.

        The next UDRB meeting will be in August.


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