After battling with Manchester based AFL, HKS has finally been chosen to design the new Liverpool FC soccer stadium in Liverpool, England set to open in time for the 2011 Premier League season. The two firms' original proposals were rejected by the American owners, Tom Hicks (also owner of the Texas Rangers) and George Gillett as they felt that AFL's design was outdated and HKS' way too expensive. The cost had risen from $600 million when it was announced in the summer of 2007 to almost $900 million by the end of the year.
The new design by HKS which increases the current seating capacity from 42,000 to 60,000 will feature a stone base on the north, west and east exposures with glass facades above. The south will be metal clad with south east and south west corners open but the main selling point of the design is the world famous "Kop" (similar to the Oakland Raider's "Black Hole" but filled with fewer Hooligans) behind the home goal. This all-seater stand will be set at the higher point of the site and will contain over 20,000 seats and was designed very expressively to intensify the setting and sense of drama. The asymmetrical building as a whole was designed to break from the bowl-like shapes of most soccer stadiums and announce itself as Liverpool FC's stadium only and none other.
I think that there were some good intentions with this design especially with the "KOP" but HKS has created quite an ugly project but I guess that's what one could expect if the design team came up with their proposal after attending only one game in the original stadium. That's just like the Manchester based AFL proposing a design for say the Pittsburgh Steelers after attending one regular season game. I think that a lot more time should have been spent trying to get a feel for the culture of the club, the game of soccer and the fans.
Also, the street level view is not as interesting as aerial perspectives, just like the SF Transbay Terminal and this leads me to think that many firms seem to fall in love with how their projects look in aerial perspective and overlook how most people will view it-from the street level. Another thing that seems odd to me is that the images of the stadium are shown without a scrap of context around them so one doesn't even get a sense of how it will fit in with it's surrounding environment. I remember doing something like that with one of my fourth year school projects and was ripped into cause my building was "floating in space" but I guess when you become successful in this field you can do whatever you want with your renderings.
Well, the design has been selected already and the only people I feel for are the Liverpool fans cause they have joined the list of franchises that have been screwed by American owners cause we don't understand the culture of soccer in Europe even though we like to pretend we do.
Images obtained from www.liverpoolft.tv/news