Into the Light
How the Collaboration of Flos Bespoke and Goodrich Brought the UBS Arena to Belmont Park
By Stef Schwalb
Designing premium spaces for sporting arenas is no easy feat—just consider the scale alone. Interior designers and lighting professionals have numerous elements to consider for embarking on any project of this size. Now think about the best way to light each individual premium area within that space in a way that makes them enticing and unique. That was the challenge presented to the creatives at Flos Bespoke and New York City–based interior design firm Goodrich for the UBS Arena at Belmont Park, the new home of the legendary NY Islanders.
For more than a century, this historic park has hosted discerning guests for countless entertainment and sports events, but the time had come to take the hospitality aspect to a whole new level. By elevating the surroundings and visitor experience, the team at Goodrich worked with Flos Bespoke on custom lighting to define the spaces, create atmosphere, and transform the arena’s larger space and terrace into a series of intimate moments. The result is 100-plus custom fixtures ranging in scale and size, including: 5 globe cantilever sconces and an array of 26 pendant lights at the Dime Club, 14 chandeliers in the Spotlight Suites, 3 flush mount chandeliers at Premium Entrances, 10 cantilever sconces and 2 column-mounted chandeliers at the UBS Club, 1 column fixture at the Verizon Lounge, and 36 bar lights at the Pitchbook Suites. We connected with Ian Coll, Head of Flos Bespoke, and Hines Fischer, Furniture & Lighting Director at Goodrich, for insights on the project.
“The building’s architecture was inspired by legendary New York stadiums, such as Stanford White’s Madison Garden II and Ebbets Field, and set in legendary Belmont Park,” says Fischer. “Throughout the arena, we drew inspiration for the forms and scale of the light fixtures from this rich history.” That inspiration helped to create the diverse range of custom fixtures, which, while developed specifically to define each space, also strived to provide an aspirational feel throughout the arena. “The fixtures on the terraces and the entryways were designed to be ambassadors, welcoming people to the grand building and acting as a bridge between the architectural style of the arena and the warm, welcoming interiors we wanted to create inside,” continues Fischer. “As you travel deeper into the building, the clubs and premium spaces each took on their own unique story, which our design team worked hard to define. The design vocabulary was inspired by classic New York venues such as the Bemelmans Bar, King Cole Bar, and Sardi’s—anchoring the experience in the history of the city.”
While collaborating on a project for a venue of this size presents several challenges, the teams at Flos Bespoke and Goodrich proved to be a seamless partnership throughout the production process. “Working together with Goodrich on the initial design and approval phase of this project was condensed to just six weeks. The resulting production process of the custom fixtures took place over the course of 20 weeks and was timed for delivery to coincide with the arena’s low-use period during their off-season,” explains Coll. “Our engineering team rose to the challenge of producing 10 unique custom assemblies simultaneously, and our main design objective was to ensure that all the pieces should have a uniform glow— without any visibility or glare from the LED source.”
Of course, this isn’t the first time the team at Flos Bespoke had worked on large sporting arenas, so that expertise definitely came in handy. “By the time the UBS Arena opportunity came to us, we had already had the experience of working on custom lighting for other sporting arenas of this size: specifically, the Barclay Center concourse [located in Brooklyn, NY] and the New Balance Sports Center in Boston, MA,” notes Coll. “The intention behind the lighting design was to bring a level of visual comfort and composition to each area—not just the VIP areas. While fans visiting these areas might understandably have their focus on grabbing some refreshments during the interval, or on their team’s performance, we do like to think our fixtures have added to their experience!”
In terms of seeking inspiration and innovation in design and lighting today, Fisher doesn’t hold back on what he sees of great influence and importance. “Keeping your inspiration unique and fresh is a constant challenge in an era when the internet pulls us all toward the same trends. Our designers turn to books to search forgotten or underappreciated design movements from the last century, bringing fresh perspectives and ways of thinking to our work,” reveals Fischer. “Matthew Goodrich, our principal and founder, is particularly knowledgeable about design history and always brings fresh inspiration and design philosophies that just cannot be found scrolling through social media. Many intelligent thinkers have spent their careers considering design and how it relates to the human social experience. As young designers, we do ourselves a disservice if we don’t study their work so we can stand on the shoulders of giants.” ■