Longtime fan will design Vikings new $975 million stadium

  • Article by: RICHARD MERYHEW , Star Tribune
  • Updated: October 7, 2012 - 8:27 AM

Architect for the $975 million stadium once sat in the stands.

hide

At Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, designed by Dallas-based HKS Inc., a retractable window wall opens to the downtown skyline.

Photo: Carlos Gonzalez, Star Tribune

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

Growing up in central Iowa, Mark Williams rooted passionately for his Minnesota Twins and Vikings.

Game after game, season after season, the boy from Marshalltown wore the colors, donned the caps and studied the stats of his favorite teams. Once a year, and sometimes more, he and his family hopped into their station wagon for the four-hour drive north to catch a game at Bloomington's Metropolitan Stadium and later the downtown Minneapolis Metrodome.

"It's near and dear to me," Williams said the other day. "Those are good memories."

Three decades later, the 49-year-old architect is back in Minneapolis, this time as a principal with HKS Inc., the Dallas-based architectural firm hired to design the $975 million multipurpose stadium that will replace the Metrodome, home of the Vikings.

"I know how much these buildings mean to people," Williams said. "So we take it very seriously. And we know what we do and how we design it will have a huge effect on the success of the building."

Since first sketching renderings for a college basketball arena more than 50 years ago, HKS has established itself as one of the leading designers of sports venues worldwide, drawing plans for stadiums and arenas big and small.

The firm has designed major league ballparks in Milwaukee and Dallas and minor league stadiums in smaller spots, such as the Texas home of the Corpus Christi Hooks.

It has overseen the renovation of classic venues, such as Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, and built two of the NFL's newest and glitziest stadiums, in Dallas and Indianapolis, both of which feature cutting-edge scoreboards, roofs and windows.

"They are first-class," said Bill Lester, the former director of the commission that ran the Metrodome and served as the predecessor to the new Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority that, along with the Vikings, hired HKS. "They are the new superstar on the horizon."

Looking to Indy

Founded in Dallas in 1939 by Harwood K. Smith, HKS employs more than 900 people in 29 offices worldwide. According to its website, the firm has built more than $73 billion worth of office buildings, sports venues, hotels, resorts and other projects in nearly 1,200 cities in 77 countries.

What Williams and architects in the company's sports division have in store for Minneapolis is a mystery, at least for now.

A stadium rendering won't be publicly unveiled until January, at the earliest.

Before then, HKS plans to travel the state to talk with Minnesotans and gather perspective on what they want to see. The first meeting is set for Oct. 15 at Minneapolis City Hall.

While the design is yet to be determined, the project will certainly be inspired by HKS's recent work on Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, home of the NFL's Indianapolis Colts, and Cowboys Stadium near Dallas.

The stadiums differ greatly in location and style. HKS architect Bryan Trubey has called the Cowboys' massive suburban stadium contemporary and "edgy" while referring to the more conservative, downtown Indianapolis stadium as historic and "traditional." Both are multipurpose venues capable of hosting a variety of events, from Final Four basketball tournaments to rock concerts and tractor pulls.

Both also boast features designed to excite and impress.

A signature of Cowboys Stadium is a giant, four-sided, high-definition video board that hangs above the field to give fans close-up views of the action.

In Indy, a large retractable window wall opens to the downtown skyline. Combined with the NFL's largest retractable roof, the stadium "can open up and almost become an outdoor-type venue," Williams said.

Those features, he added, "really changed the perception of what an NFL stadium could be."

Which is what the Vikings and stadium authority were looking for when interviewing design firms. HKS won a $34 million contract.

"This is an opportunity to rethink what a football stadium can be," said Tom Fisher, dean of the College of Design at the University of Minnesota, who sat in on the interviews. "This is a firm that is willing to think outside the box."

Teamwork and trust

While much of HKS's recent work has drawn raves, the projects haven't been perfect.

For all of Lucas Oil's assets, stadium director Mike Fox said it could use more elevators, escalators and ramps to help fans move around.

Its look, too, overwhelms.

One critic referred to the brick and boxy structure, built to fit the city's downtown warehouse district, as something that "resembles a 19th-century factory on steroids."

John Klipsch, who runs the stadium board, said Lucas Oil "really changed the landscape of our skyline.

"It's hard with huge football stadiums and soccer stadiums not to make them look like big spaceships that were dropped into the community," he said.

Cowboys Stadium also has drawn criticism for its excesses.

One writer described the 113,000-seat stadium as "flying saucer-like" and "straight out of Eisenhower's America, with its embrace of car culture and a grandiose, bigger-is-better mentality."

And the video board, designed to give fans in the stands the same perspective as those watching at home, is so big that some see it as a distraction.

Despite the criticism, Williams said HKS wouldn't change a thing.

"Everybody has opinions," he said. "We listen. But we don't let it bother us."

Jack Hill, project executive for the new San Francisco 49ers stadium, worked with HKS on the Cowboys project. He said the firm's ability to "listen well" and think creatively helped after team owner Jerry Jones demanded a video board much bigger than originally designed.

Fox, too, praised HKS's creative touch. When designing the auxiliary locker rooms at Lucas Oil, HKS turned to Fox, a former college basketball student manager and part-time official. He'd been in hundreds of locker rooms and knows a good layout from a bad one.

"They handed me a piece of paper and said, 'You know what you are doing, go design,'" Fox said. "I thought they would just kind of take it and throw it away, but at the end of the day, what was built was pretty much what I designed.

"I'm not talking about light fixtures and shower fixtures, but just the overall space. To me, that really exemplifies teamwork and trust."

Squeezing a 65,000-seat stadium into downtown Minneapolis won't be easy. But Williams said he's confident it can be done with style and flair and within the budget.

"There's nothing better than to watch people walk into a stadium you and your firm have worked on for years and watch the faces," he said. "It makes all that hard work worthwhile."

Richard Meryhew • 612-673-4425

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Cleveland 4 Suspended
Kansas City 2
Baltimore - W. Chen 6:05 PM
NY Yankees - M. Pineda
Kansas City - D. Duffy 6:05 PM
Cleveland - C. Carrasco
Seattle - J. Paxton 6:07 PM
Toronto - J. Happ
Chicago WSox - C. Bassitt 6:08 PM
Detroit - K. Lobstein
Pittsburgh - F. Liriano 6:10 PM
Atlanta - A. Harang
Houston - N. Tropeano 7:05 PM
Texas - D. Holland
St. Louis - A. Wainwright 7:05 PM
Chicago Cubs - T. Wood
Arizona - J. Collmenter 7:10 PM
Minnesota - R. Nolasco
LA Angels - C. Wilson 9:05 PM
Oakland - J. Samardzija
San Francisco - J. Peavy 9:10 PM
Los Angeles - D. Haren
Colorado - T. Matzek 9:10 PM
San Diego - E. Stults
San Diego 22 FINAL
Buffalo 10
Dallas 34 FINAL
St. Louis 31
Washington 34 FINAL
Philadelphia 37
Houston 17 FINAL
NY Giants 30
Minnesota 9 FINAL
New Orleans 20
Tennessee 7 FINAL
Cincinnati 33
Baltimore 23 FINAL
Cleveland 21
Green Bay 7 FINAL
Detroit 19
Indianapolis 44 FINAL
Jacksonville 17
Oakland 9 FINAL
New England 16
San Francisco 14 FINAL
Arizona 23
Denver 20 FINAL
Seattle 26
Kansas City 34 FINAL
Miami 15
Pittsburgh 37 FINAL
Carolina 19
Chicago 7:30 PM
NY Jets
NY Giants 9/25/14 7:25 PM
Washington
Ottawa 12:30 PM
NY Islanders
Ottawa 5:00 PM
NY Islanders
New Jersey 6:00 PM
NY Rangers
Detroit 6:00 PM
Pittsburgh
Toronto 6:00 PM
Philadelphia
Washington 6:00 PM
Philadelphia
Minnesota 7:00 PM
Winnipeg
St. Louis 7:30 PM
Dallas
Anaheim 8:00 PM
Colorado
Colorado 9:00 PM
Anaheim
Los Angeles 9:00 PM
Arizona
Arizona 9:30 PM
Los Angeles
Old Dominion 45 FINAL
Rice 42
Troy 0 FINAL
(12) Georgia 66
Georgia Tech 27 FINAL
Virginia Tech 24
Eastern Mich 14 FINAL
(9) Michigan State 73
Iowa 24 FINAL
Pittsburgh 20
Bowling Green 17 FINAL
(19) Wisconsin 68
Maryland 34 FINAL
Syracuse 20
Tulane 13 FINAL
Duke 47
Hawaii 12 FINAL
Colorado 21
Marshall 48 FINAL
Akron 17
North Carolina 41 FINAL
(23) East Carolina 70
Army 21 FINAL
Wake Forest 24
Virginia 33 FINAL
(20) BYU 41
(6) Texas A&M 58 FINAL
SMU 6
Rutgers 31 FINAL
Navy 24
Central Mich 10 FINAL
Kansas 24
Utah 26 FINAL
Michigan 10
Florida 21 FINAL
(3) Alabama 42
Louisville 34 FINAL
FIU 3
Fla Atlantic 19 FINAL
Wyoming 20
Indiana 31 FINAL
Missouri 27
San Jose St 7 FINAL
Minnesota 24
Texas State 35 FINAL
Illinois 42
Massachusetts 7 FINAL
Penn State 48
Georgia State 14 FINAL
Washington 45
Appalachian St 20 FINAL
Southern Miss 21
(14) Miss State 34 FINAL
(17) LSU 29
Northern Ill 14 FINAL
Arkansas 52
Middle Tennessee 17 FINAL
Memphis 36
Utah State 14 FINAL
Arkansas State 21
Miami-Ohio 24 FINAL
Cincinnati 31
Idaho 24 FINAL
Ohio U 36
Ball State 23 FINAL
Toledo 34
(13) So Carolina 48 FINAL
Vanderbilt 34
(4) Oklahoma 45 FINAL
West Virginia 33
Ga Southern 28 FINAL
South Alabama 6
UNLV 14 FINAL
Houston 47
Miami-Florida 31 FINAL
(21) Nebraska 41
New Mexico 38 FINAL
New Mexico St 35
Clemson 17 FINAL
(1) Florida State 23
California 45 FINAL
Arizona 49
San Diego St 7 FINAL
Oregon State 28
(2) Oregon 38 FINAL
Washington St 31
Louisiana 9 FINAL
Boise State 34
Texas Tech 9/25/14 6:30 PM
(24) Oklahoma State
Appalachian St 9/25/14 6:30 PM
Ga Southern
(11) UCLA 9/25/14 9:00 PM
(15) Arizona State
Middle Tennessee 9/26/14 7:00 PM
Old Dominion
Fresno State 9/26/14 7:00 PM
New Mexico
Texas-El Paso 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(25) Kansas State
Tennessee 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(12) Georgia
Vanderbilt 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Kentucky
Wyoming 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(9) Michigan State
Northwestern 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Penn State
TCU 9/27/14 11:00 AM
SMU
Iowa 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Purdue
Tulane 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Rutgers
So Florida 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(19) Wisconsin
Colorado State 9/27/14 11:30 AM
Boston College
Western Mich 9/27/14 11:30 AM
Virginia Tech
Maryland 9/27/14 12:30 PM
Indiana
Akron 9/27/14 12:30 PM
Pittsburgh
Bowling Green 9/27/14 2:00 PM
Massachusetts
Arkansas 9/27/14 2:30 PM
(6) Texas A&M
Kent State 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Virginia
Western Ky 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Navy
Minnesota 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Michigan
Wake Forest 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Louisville
FIU 9/27/14 2:30 PM
UAB
(1) Florida State 9/27/14 2:30 PM
NC State
Miami-Ohio 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Buffalo
Colorado 9/27/14 3:00 PM
California
Louisiana Tech 9/27/14 3:00 PM
(5) Auburn
Texas 9/27/14 3:00 PM
Kansas
Temple 9/27/14 3:00 PM
Connecticut
(16) Stanford 9/27/14 3:15 PM
Washington
TX-San Antonio 9/27/14 4:00 PM
Fla Atlantic
South Alabama 9/27/14 4:00 PM
Idaho
Cincinnati 9/27/14 5:00 PM
(22) Ohio State
Rice 9/27/14 6:00 PM
Southern Miss
Missouri 9/27/14 6:00 PM
(13) So Carolina
Boise State 9/27/14 6:00 PM
Air Force
North Carolina 9/27/14 6:00 PM
Clemson
Central Mich 9/27/14 6:00 PM
Toledo
Troy 9/27/14 6:00 PM
ULM
New Mexico St 9/27/14 6:30 PM
(17) LSU
Memphis 9/27/14 6:30 PM
(10) Ole Miss
Duke 9/27/14 6:30 PM
Miami-Florida
Texas State 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Tulsa
Washington St 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Utah
(8) Notre Dame 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Syracuse
(7) Baylor 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Iowa State
UNLV 9/27/14 7:00 PM
San Diego St
Illinois 9/27/14 8:00 PM
(21) Nebraska
Oregon State 9/27/14 9:30 PM
(18) USC
Nevada 9/27/14 9:30 PM
San Jose St
Toronto 40 FINAL
Brt Columbia 23
Edmonton 23 FINAL
Hamilton 25
Calgary 15 FINAL
Montreal 31
Ottawa 32 FINAL
Saskatchewan 35

ADVERTISEMENT

Advertisement
Golden Gavel by Star Tribune

Time left for great deals

Bid thru Sept. 29

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Grade the Vikings offense

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close