Snow Kreilich Architects, Ryan A+E and AECOM : The CHS Field Ballpark is conceived first as a park and a public space, and then as a sports venue. Working with the City of Saint Paul and the St. Paul Saints, the design team slipped a 7,000 seat ballpark into a remnant site between an interstate highway, an elevated bridge, a light rail operations facility and the historic Lowertown District. The judges were all impressed with the way in which the project blended with its surroundings, with Paul commenting: “I think in particular its contextual relationship with the city, its curved form, the echoing of the city behind is just beautiful.”
The architecture is low and compact, with the ballpark structures surrounding the seating bowl and playing field. A light suite level structure floats above the grounded seating bowl and masonry concourse amenity buildings. The main entrance frames the termination of Fifth Street, creating an important connection with the city core. Large open volumes at the concourse and the suite level combined with the elevate suite level create a space that is porous to its surroundings and a park that is visible from adjacent spaces.
The material palette is restrained, using wood on the underside of the canopy and suite level, combined with dark steel and masonry. The design’s restraint becomes a foil and a framework for the energetic promotions and events for which the ballclub is so well known.
The Judge’s decision to name CHS Field as the winning project was a unanimous one, with Rasti saying: “I love the simplicity of this project, it’s elegant and modern, it’s incredibly simple, that’s what I love about it and the atmosphere must be very very nice.” Michael also had nothing but positive words for the stadium adding: “The more you look at this project the more you realise the understated simplicity of it. It really succeeds in drawing in the urban backdrop whilst maintaining the focus on the field of play. The view from the open concourse is particularly exciting and from there you really appreciated the care and attention to detail right down to the elegant lighting stands. Everything has been very well integrated and coordinated to look effortless. Sport in the City done brilliantly ! “
The ballpark operates as a public space; it offers social engagement opportunities as well as a civic and district identity. The design maximizes the social opportunity of the site. It is accessible physically with a level concourse surrounding the field and seating bowl, and economically with its low ticket prices. Captured spaces off the concourse offer social engagement opportunities as fans walk around the park while enjoying the game. Once the jury had come to the decision, Paul poignantly added that CHS Field feels like a stadium for people.
Photo Courtesy : Paul Crosby