Really Great Soccer Stadiums of the World

May 27, 2011 § Leave a comment

The Champions League Final is happening Saturday. Since the 2006 World Cup I’ve been a futbol fan. Call me a socialist, un-american, blah blah blah. Soccer, futbol, is a great sport to follow. Besides the athletes, my greatest appreciation comes from my opinion that the playing surface hasn’s shrunk in comparison to the athletes that play on it. The field has remained challenging. While I look at the NBA, baseball, boxing – I see all these fields looking smaller and almost acting as a constraint to the athletes of today. The soccer pitch allows so much room for runs, long balls, precise passes, and thundering strikes. A goal or a good corner kick is so much more exciting then seeing a seven footer dunk a ball on a ten foot rim and then taking two steps to be on the other side of the half line.

I don’t have much skin in the big game, but it is showcasing two of the best teams in the world right now. This is great because there wasn’t an unexpected club from the awful Bundesliga slipping into the final this year. This year, it was truly the two best teams, both peaking, set to meet. I only wish one of those teams was AS Roma. If you are looking for me saturday you can find me busy finding a place to watch the match. Most of my love is for AS Roma and early morning ESPN3, sometimes the two not cooperating together. I’ll have to cheat on the Serie A this week and find a large television set in a good bar filled with some biased fans cheering for teams I only wish had Totti and De Rossi. The summer will be long for my soccer fix, I’m hoping MLS can conjure up some passion.

In honor of this years Champions League, and to get this promised post of really great stadiums off the ground, I’ve compiled my four favorites. ¬†Images are below.They range from De Moura’s Braga stadium, an example of architecture and sport at it’s finest, to the angled grass field somewhere in the Ukraine. The characteristic that marks all of the stadiums, besides being for soccer, is that they are site specific. They all use the site in great ways, and instead of looking for a flat piece of post industrial brownfield they just built a field on water, or in an old quarry, or on a sloping hill by the highway. I love them for it.

De Moura: Pritzker

May 20, 2011 § Leave a comment

At the end of March the Pritzer Foundation announced the year’s winner for the architect who’s built work has been influential to the profession. This year they chose Eduardo Souto De Moura from Portugal, a pretty good choice in my opinion. Although I have trouble recalling any written work that he has contributed to the field, the award isn’t for the best writer – otherwise I’d like to see Vidler somewhere in that list that started with Mr. GlassHouse Johnson.

There must be something in the water around Portugal, the little European nation has two Pritzker winners (De Moura, Siza) plus it has the goal scoring machine in Christiano Ronaldo – although, they haven’t been able to keep themselves out of financial problems, but better than their European neighbor Greece!

I included a few images from De Moura’s portfolio, his art installation in Venice which I thought was brilliant. I could easily see this same mirror work in a city like New Orleans or Detroit, both dealing with dropping population and an aging building stock. The work I most fall in love with by De Moura is his stadium in Braga. I love the lightness with which he dealt with the concrete overhang, the holes that run parallel to the stadium seating, the circulation ramps, and for embracing the local preponderance to watch the games atop the large stone hills of the city. Looking at his stadium encouraged me to further find other football stadiums I found absolutely quirky and creative (stay tuned).

The Pritzker Prize is like winning the Nobel Prize for scientists and presidents, sometimes it seems a bit political, sometimes it seems a bit trendy, sometimes it seems behind the curve. But one thing the Prize does do is celebrate pinnacle and inspiring design, and offers a beacon that continues to progress standards for every architect in their work.

Incredible Soviet Monuments

May 12, 2011 § Leave a comment

With the whole Soviet era well in the rear view it seems appropriate that we, as rabid hungry eye candy consumers of everything anyone has ever made, should turn our attention to the remnant over scaled pieces of art from the Soviet empire

Just like we look upon Stonehenge or the Easter Island Rapanui statues in a sort of cocked headed wonderment, I think the newly documented installations of the Soviet people can cause this same reaction. What in the world were they besides some lesson Leon Krier would like to show, a surplus of concrete needed to be made, or some way to commemorate some event that has already been forgotten. My best guess would be the Soviets desire to have large commissions given to artists and architects trying to find a”national” Soviet idenitifier in shapes and forms.¬† Maybe they were successful, one thing is sure – they are very interesting.

Take a look at the full 25 Here

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