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James A. Renne, principal and director of sports design at Rossetti, talks about the growth of mixed-use urban districts, a successful project at Bowling Green State University and why the Colosseum in Rome is so important to the stadium industry
What services does your company offer?
Rossetti is a global architectural design firm specialising in architecture, planning, graphics and interiors.
Could you tell us an interesting fact about your company?
Ever since the doors opened at Rossetti, ‘serious fun’ has been a part of our culture. Though it sounds link an oxymoron, it’s the perfect way to describe how we can take our business seriously while having fun doing it. Creating is fun. Working with clients and colleagues on interesting projects is fun. Ideas can be sparked at a barbeque just as readily as at a conference table. It's an atmosphere where work crosses into fun and fun into work.
What trends do you see emerging in your particular sector of the stadium industry?
Design teams are planning for activities on both sides of the turnstiles. While the intense energy going into the design of seating bowls and interior hospitality spaces is as high as we have ever seen, a transformation is also taking place in the way that sports properties approach the design of spaces that abut, blur or transcend the exterior of the facility. Sports anchored developments are placing the sports property within the context of a mixed-used urban district where residents and visitors of the district want to come earlier and stay longer when engaging in sports events. Operators are finding ways to better capitalise on the energy of fans by providing hospitality and spectator opportunities in adjacent streets, parking lots and squares before, during and after major sporting events.
Can you tell us about a recent success story for your company?
We design experiences that generate value, working collaboratively with our clients to discover, visualise, define, and bring goals to life. Our recent completion of the Bowling Green State University Stroh Convocation Center demonstrates our success. Working under a tight budget, Rossetti was determined to deliver a building that amazes for generations to come. We communicated the university’s design goals in several unique ways. To immediately establish school pride and a sense of place, strong branding and bold colors were used at the entrance of the building. To represent a literal depiction of the school’s mascot, angled volumes of the exterior reference the aggressive expression of a Falcon. The trapezoidal prismatic volumes are articulated as scalar responses to the site. To create a lively fan experience, the arena uses an innovative mitred-bowl design that increases the feeling of intimacy and improves sight lines.
What are the biggest challenges you’re facing in your particular sector of the industry – and how are you overcoming them?
Finance. The biggest challenge we are seeing is the ability to finance new construction. Whether it is for a much-needed renovation or a brand new facility the challenge has been how to justify the cost. Because of this, we are constantly making adjustments to instill confidence in owners and investors. Our Return on DesignTM approach demonstrates a detailed plan on how to capture revenue on capital investments, and a timeline for the return on investment. Upgrades begin to pay for themselves halfway through their lifetime, generating funding for the next evolution.
What new technologies or strategies have you used in any recent projects?
We are not just creating spaces – we are designing opportunities that engage the fan in ways that have the ability to heighten the sport experience. Through utilising parametric modelling and BIM, we have been able to create diverse experiences. In turn, this process has enhanced the way we plan and design. Using advanced technology allows us to communicate complex design solutions while simultaneously streamlining the construction process. This results in an efficient building one that seamlessly ties the design process together from conceptualisation to documentation. Utilisation of these advance technologies allows owners and facility directors to visualise the space and solve issues before the construction begins.
What’s your favorite stadium/sports venue and why?
The Colosseum in Rome. Though it is not the first of its type, it was the pinnacle venue to celebrate the entertainment of a spectacle. The Colosseum is the seminal building that represents why we do what we do. It was designed as an entertainment venue where people from all walks of life could come to enjoy the spectacle.
Where do you see the stadium market in 10 years’ time?
The fan never stops evolving. I see the stadium market shifting more and more to a focus on the value generation of the fan experience. For average fans at a sporting event we have begun to see a shift toward a desire for a broader range of experiences when visiting the entertainment destination. The actual sporting event has become the catalyst for an evening; it folds a variety of social options into the entire entertainment package.
Rosetti will be exhibiting at Stadia Design & Technology Expo 2012, 8 -10 May 2012. Visit the company at Booth 2046