Baylor Stadium Populous
Even as college football fever was beginning to intensify across the state in late July, the Baylor University Board of Regents voted to move forward with the construction of a new $250 million riverfront stadium complex pending a favorable final vote by Waco’s city council (which happened as expected August 7). Designed by Populous, recognized for sports stadium architecture worldwide, the new Baylor Stadium is expected to be ready for the opening of the 2014 season. The 93-acre project site is located at the intersection of heavily trafficked Interstate 35 and the Brazos River, occasioning the opportunity for a bridge crossing the river connecting the stadium to campus. The 45,000-seat stadium, expandable to 55,000, will frame the entrance to Waco along the interstate, creating a visual and physical connection to downtown. New Baylor football traditions will be created as the stadium benefits from an on-campus experience after playing off-campus since 1936, including more than 60 years at the current venue, Floyd Casey Stadium. Fans will be seen connecting to the site via bikes, boats, cars, and a sculpted main pedestrian bridge.
The stadium’s architecture is inspired by the classic Georgian architecture found on campus. A classic organization of the building form is used to inform the design experience by placing the base of the building on a concrete plinth, wrapping the architecture in serrated brick walls and capping it with a luminescent canopy. Tying the elements together is a rhythmic colonnade of white columns. Portals are used to express entries and views to and from campus and downtown Waco. The stadium opens to the south, providing spectacular physical views back to campus as well as a spiritual connection to the original heart of the campus. Balcony portals – the only elements to penetrate the brick wall encompassing the seating bowl and playing field – recall the more intimate spaces found on campus. The balcony portals and open-view concourses provide air flow and views into the stadium. A shade canopy will provide sun protection for nearly 50 percent of all seats for mid-afternoon games. The stadium will also feature the latest in technology, including two large video boards in the south end zone, LED ribbon boards, and a state-ofthe-art sound system.
Texas Architect 17