THE GREAT STADIUM ISSUE, HOME OF FUN AND GAMES

THE COLISEUM IN ROME BEING THE MODEL, THAT HAS NOT BEEN MATCHED. A TOTAL EVENT THAT CONSUMED THE SOCIETY FOR ALL THE WRONG REASONS.

THE BIRD CAGE IN THE LAST OLYMPICS WAS THE RAGE THAT BROUGHT A POWERFUL IMAGE TO THE GAMES, RECENTLY IT IS SUFFERING WITH NEEDS OF MAINTENANCE, THE BIG CONCERN AFTER THE GAMES ARE OVER, IS WHETHER THE STRUCTURES REMAIN VITAL?

STADIUMS ARE THE CHURCHES OF OUR ERA, THE MAJOR SCALE BUILDINGS THAT EVERY TOWN NEEDS. THE OLYMPICS BRINGING THE WORLD TOGETHER.
THEY ARE A COMPLETE PERFORMANCE WHICH HAS NOT BEEN CAPTURED BY THE MEDIA YET. A TOTAL HAPPENING OF THE POPULOUS INTERACTING. I HAVE BEEN PRICED OUT, ALONG WITH THE MAJORITY OF THE POPULOUS.

AT 32 YEARS OF AGE IN 1969 I DID THE DETROIT STADIUM PROPOSAL WHILE I WAS LIVING ON MULHOLLAND DRIVE IN LA. AT THE TIME I WAS TAKING AN INDUSTRIAL RENDERING COURSE AT UCLA.

MORT PERSKY, THE EDITOR OF THE DETROIT FREE PREE, SUNDAY SUPPLEMENT MAGAZINE . THAT CAME OUT WITH THE SUNDAY PAPER, CALLED AND ASKED ME TO DO A STADIUM ISSUE FOLLOWING THE VERTICAL ROAD AND KERN BLOCK ISSUES I HAD PREVIOUSLY DONE FOR HIM.

AERIAL VIEW LOOKING EAST TO CENTRAL DETROIT ON THE DETROIT RIVER

THE SITE WAS DOWNTOWN WHERE THE CITY MEETS THE RIVER, WEST OF KOBAL HALL THE PISTONS’ BASKETBALL ARENA AT THE TIME ON THE DETROIT RIVER.

I HAD BEEN TO THE 1967 EXPOSITION IN MONTREAL CANADA AND HAD SEEN THE GERMAN EXHIBIT HOUSED IN A FREI OTTO TENSILE STRUCTURE. I WAS NOT IMPRESSED. THE OUTSIDE WAS BOLD, BUT THE INTERIOR WAS SMALL AND CRAMPED AND THE FLOORS WERE A SERIES OF SQUARE PLATFORMS. BUT THE TENSILE STRUCTURE AS A PRINCIPLE WAS INTRIGUING.

THE OTHER THING THAT I HAD OBSERVED YEARS BEFORE AT WELTON BECKET ARCHITECTS IN LOS ANGELES WAS A PROPOSAL THEY HAD MADE FOR A VERTICAL ENCLOSED SKI RUN.

LIVING IN DETROIT FOR THREE YEARS HAD IMPRESSED UPON ME THE LACK OF DOWNTOWN BEING AN ATTRACTION. I HAD BEEN TO A BASEBALL GAME AND A BASKETBALL GAME AND BOTH WERE A DESTINATION POINT WITH LOTS OF PEOPLE COMING AND GOING. MY THINKING ,WHY NOT MAKE A SPORTS CENTER FOR AMATEUR AND PROFESSIONAL SPORTS AND MAKE IT ACTIVE ALL THE TIME. THERE IS A LARGE FINANCIAL INVESTMENT IN A STADIUM THAT IS ONLY USED AT MAX A COUPLE OF TIMES A WEEK. WHY NOT HAVE THINGS HAPPENING ALL THE TIME, AND OTHERS SMALLER STADIUMS ALL CONNECTED. MAKE AN AREA THAT ONE COULD NOT ONLY VIEW A SPORT, BUT ALSO PARTICIPATE IN A SPORT. AS A KID I REMEMBER WATCHING A GAME ON TV AND THEN RUNNING OUT TO THE FRONT LAWN AND HAVING OUR OWN PERSONAL GAME. I HAD NEVER HAD SEEN THIS BEFORE, BUT THOUGHT IT MADE A LOT OF SENSE.

THE TWO PRINCIPLES OF THE DESIGN BEING TAKING A TENSILE STRUCTURE AT A SMALL SCALE AND BLOWING IT UP TO DO A BUNCH OF THINGS AT A LARGER SCALE. THAT WENT FOR THE LIMITED ONE GAME SPORT INCREASED TO HAVE A LOTS OF SPORTS. DESIGN INSPIRED BY EXPANSION OR BLOW UP . WITH THIS COMES EFFICIENCY OF USING THE PARKING, TRANSPORTATION SYSTEMS, SAFETY, FOOD, HOUSING, OFFICES, AND ENTERTAINMENT TO COMPLEMENT EACH OTHER. A LAS VEGAS FOR SPORTS. THE MUNICH OLYMPICS HAD COMBINED STADIUMS IN 1972, BUT WAS AN ISOLATED SITE , SPREAD OUT OVER THE TERRAIN AND NOT A COMBINING OF FUNCTIONS TO KEEP IT VIBRANT AFTER THE OLYMPICS. IT DID DEMONSTRATE THE BEAUTY OF COMBINING TENSION STRUCTURES AT A LARGE SCALE. ONE OF MY TOP TEN BUILDING COMPLEXES IN THE WORLD.

SWOOPING DOWN THE SLOPES

DETROIT CLIMATE IS SEVERE IN THE WINTER. IT TURNS COLD IN NOVEMBER AND DOES NOT WARM UP UNTIL THE MIDDLE OF APRIL. THE TERRAIN IS FLAT WITH A FEW ROLLING HILLS, SO SERIOUS SKIING IS OUT OF THE QUESTION. THIS GOES FOR THE SURROUNDING STATES AS WELL. WITH THE TENSILE SYSTEM, DYNAMIC SLOPES WERE AUTOMATIC. SO I PUT SKIING ON THE ROOF AND THE RUNS CONTINUE ALL THE WAY DOWN THROUGH THE COMPLEX AND AN ELEVATOR SKI LIFT TO BRING YOU BACK UP. THE SNOW WAS NATURAL OR ARTIFICIALLY SPRAYED. THE PLASTIC SKIN MEMBER BEING TRANSPARENT LETTING LIGHT FROM THE INTERIOR ILLUMINATE THOUGH THE SNOW AT NIGHT, SO ONE WOULD BE SKING OR TOBOGGANING ON A GLOWING SURFACE. THE COMPRESSION MEMBER TOWERS TOPS HAVING SKI LODGES WHERE ONE COULD OBSERVE THE SKIERS BELOW AND SIP BRANDY. THE TOWERS CONTAINED OFFICES, RESTAURANTS, DISCOS, SHOPS, CONDOS ETC. THEY WERE CONNECTED WITH HORIZONTAL BRIDGES. THE PLASTIC ROOF RUNS COULD BE USED IN SUMMER AS WELL WITH DIFFERENT EQUIPMENT FOR DRY SKIING.

GOING INTO THE HOLE WATCHED BY SKI LODGE VIEWERS

THERE WAS A FOOTBALL STADIUM WITH ROTATING SEATING FOR BASEBALL. PRIVATE SLICK PODS WITH ONE WAY VISION HUNG FROM THE ROOF FOR THE AFFLUENT. BASKETBALL, ICE SKATING, TENNIS, BOXING, WEIGHTLIFTING, FENCING, BOATING ETC. RIVER SPORT VIEWING, AND AN ENCLOSED FILTERED PORTION OF THE RIVER FOR SWIMMING AND BOATING. ONE WOULD COME FOR A 3 ON 3 PICK UP GAME FOR BASKETBALL, TAKE A PLUNGE IN THE POOL, WATCH THE PISTONS BASKETBALL AT NIGHT, FOLLOWED WITH A MEAL, ENTERTAINMENT AND SLEEPING OVER AT THE HOTEL. A SPORTS COMMUNITY IN THE HEART OF DETROIT. SLIDING PRICE SCALING TO LET EVERYBODY IN. HAVING STANDBY TO ASSURE THAT ALL THE SEATS WERE TAKEN. MONEY BEING MADE FROM MINOR MINIMUM AND CONCESSIONS. THUS TRULY REPRESENTING THE ECONOMIC CROSS SECTION. MY FATHER USED TO USHER IN DETROIT AT THE OPERA HOUSE. HE SAID THAT THE UPPER BALCONIES WERE FILLED WITH IMMIGRANTS WITH LIMITED MEANS THAT WOULD HISS, PRODUCING A LIIGHT MIST, WHEN THE LOWER LEVEL VIEWERS WOULD CLAP AT THE WRONG TIMES.

CROSS SECTION OF MULTIPLE STADIUMS. A SIMPLE TENSILE STRUCTURE. DETROIT RIVER ON THE LEFT AND VERTICAL ROAD SYSTEM AND DETROIT ON THE RIGHT

CROSS SECTION CLOSE UP OF MINI STADIUMS FOR AMATEUR AND PROFESSIONALS, PARKING BELOW PEDESTRIAN PLAZA

THE STACKED PARKING BEING THE BASE AND TYING INTO THE VERTICAL ROAD SYSTEM . THE COMPRESSION COLUMNS BEING THE VERTICAL CIRCULATION WITH LIGHT WELLS SURROUNDING THEM GOING TO THE DEEPTH OF THE PARKING. A GRAND PLAZA ABOVE THE PARKING FOR CIRCULATION AND TEMPORARY EVENTS LIKE TAIL GATE PARTIES.

NO DRIVING UNDER THE INFLUENCE, AND A FUN TIME. TO ME IT IS SO OBVIOUS. WHY SOMEBODY HAS NOT PUT SUCH A PLACE TOGETHER IS BAFFLING TO ME. HOTELS TRY, BUT CAN NEVER EQUAL WHAT THE GREAT STADIUM ISSUE WAS PROPOSING IN 1969. AGAIN I HAD NOT MADE THE CONNECTION OF GREEN TO MY STUDIES AT CRANBROOK, BUT ALL THAT COULD HAPPEN EASILY NOW.

DETROIT HAS A HISTORY OF FORD, GM, AND CHRYSLER, AND THE SPIN OFF FAMILIES SUPPORTING THE ARTS AND CULTURE OF THE CITY. ONCE LATE IN THE AFTERNOON WHILE WORKING FOR CHARLES BLESSING, THE DETROIT CITY PLANNER OF SOME NOTE AND ZEAL, I REMEMBER HIM SITTING IN HIS OFFICE WITH PICTURES OF HIS DREAMS OF DETROIT SURROUNDING HIM WITH HIS HEAD IN HIS HANDS. I ASKED, WHAT IS WRONG? HE SAID THAT HE HAD BEEN IN DETROIT FOR A NUMBER OF YEARS AND HAD STILL NOT HAD AN AUDIENCE WITH THE HEAD OF THE FORD FAMILY. OBVIOUSLY HE WAS BEATEN AND FRUSTRATED. A GOOD MAN, THAT CONFUSED HIS NEXT PROJECT WITH PAINTING HIS WIFE’S KITCHEN CABINETS.

ALSO IN THE GREAT STADIUM ISSUE WAS AN ARTICLE ON “PORTRAIT OF A WOMAN WRESTLER” AND ANOTHER ARTICLE ON “IT’S 1969 AND SUDDENLY ITS THE YEAR OF STRIPE”, AN INTERIOR DECORATOR PITCH.

BESIDES, THE STADIUM ISSUE GIVING ME THE COVER AND DOUBLE SPREAD CENTER PAGE SPREAD WITH A GLOWING APPRAISAL, THERE WAS NO RESPONSE TO ME. THE ISSUE RAN A PARALLEL STORY ON A GROUP OF MOVER AND SHAKERS INCLUDING THE MAYOR, CHARLES BLESSING PLANNING DIRECTOR, DETROIT TIGERS AND DETROIT LIONS MANAGEMENT, COUNTY FAIR DIRECTOR, DEAN BRUNO LEON UNIVERSITY OF DETROIT SCHOOL OF ARCHITECTURE, SPORTS WRITER FROM THE DETROIT FREE PRESS. THE STORY WAS A COMPLETE VERBAL INTERCHANGE ON WHY AND WHERE A NEW STADIUM SHOULD BE BUILT.

MY RENDERING GURU IS SYD MEAD, THE US STEEL BOOK ILLUSTRATOR AND BLADE RUNNER SETS ETC. ONE OF HIS TECHNIQUES IS TO DO A VIBRANT COLOR WASH AND THEN DRAW ON TOP OF IT. THAT IS WHAT I DID FOR THE STADIUM ISSUE. MY RENDERING CLASS AT UCLA KICKED IN AS WELL, SO THE COMBINED TIMING PRODUCED THE SEDUCTIVE RENDERINGS. I DID INITIAL RENDERINGS WITH A NIGHT TIME WASH OF DARK INDIO BLUE AND VIBRANT LIGHTS, THE TOWER BUILDINGS FUTURISTIC. MORT TURNED THIS DOWN, SO I CHANGED THE TOWERS TO LOOK REALISTIC AND DID AT SUNSET WASH. MORT WANTED MORE COLOR, SO HE PUT THE HIDEOUS STRIPED COLORS OF GREEN AND BLUE AROUND THE FRONT COVER. HE CROPPED THE COVER SO YOU COULD NOT SEE THE REAL SITE. RECENTLY I HAVE RETURNED TO THE WASH TECHNIQUE WITH ABU DHABI RENDERINGS. THE WHOLE WORLD OF DRAWING AND RENDERING IS BEING LOST WITH THE COMPUTER AGE , SO I WILL DO WHAT I CAN TO KEEP THE DRAWING FAITH ALIVE.

500,000 ISSUES WERE PRINTED AND THE NEXT DAY THE SUBSCRIBERS USED THE ISSUE TO WRAP THIER GARBAGE IN. NOT ONE CALL. THIS WAS THE CULMINATION OF MY DETROIT FREE PRESS ERA. THANKS TO MORT PERSKY, WHO WENT OFF TO PLAYBOY TO TRY AND HUSSLE INVENTIVE IDEAS TO A LARGER AUDIENCE. IT DID NOT TAKE, AND HE ENDED UP AT THE PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER AS THE EDITOR OF THE KNIGHT PAPER . NOW HE IS RETIRED IN NEW YORK AND WE CORRESPOND AND SEE EACH OTHER WHEN I VISIT NEW YORK. THANKS TO MORT. IT TAKES TWO TO TANGO IN THE ARCHITECTURAL WORLD. THE CONCEPT HE PROPOSED OF ADDRESSING THE CONCERNS OF THE CITY AND PUTTING TOGETHER A SCHEME THAT WOULD CHALLENGE THE STATUS QUO IN A PLAUSIBLE APPROACH. IT IS A TEAM EFFORT OF CREATIVE MINDS FOR POSITIVE DEVELOPMENT. I DEFINITELY FEEL THERE IS A PLACE FOR THIS APPROACH TO BE USED. IT BRINGS BIG IDEAS FOWARD IMMEDIATELY, RATHER THAN WAITING FOR THE LIMITED DEVELOPERS TO GRASP THE NEXT MINI STEP.

COVER DETROIT MAGAZINE, DETROIT FREE PRESS MARCH 15, 1969

THE STADIUM WAS INSTEAD BUILT IN PONTIAC AS THE INFLATABLE SILVER DOME, THIRTY MILES FROM DOWN TOWN DETROIT. RECENTLY I SAW THAT IT WAS BOUGHT FOR SOME RIDICULOUS LOW AMOUNT OF MONEY. IT HAD FALLEN ON HARD TIMES AND WAS GIVEN AWAY. A SYMBOL OF A BAD DECISION BY THE POWER SOURCES. DETROIT NEEDED THE GREAT STADIUM MORE THAN THEY WILL EVER KNOW. IT WOULD HAVE BEEN A REGIONAL HUB THAT PEOPLE WOULD HAVE TRAVELED FROM ALL OVER THE WORLD TO INTERACT WITH, AND WOULD HAVE PROVIDED TONS OF JOBS AND RESPECT. DETROIT WOULD HAVE BEEN ON THE MAP AS A POSITIVE PLACE TO GO, RATHER THAN A PLACE TO FLEE FROM. AFTER ALL IT WAS THE MOTOWN ERA.

I DID A PITCH FOR A STADIUM TO PHIL KNIGHT AROUND 1995, THE FOUNDER AND HEAD OF NIKE, WHICH I RAN TRACK WITH AT THE UNIVERSITY OF OREGON IN 1966-68. HE WROTE BACK HE WAS IN THE SHOE AND APPAREL BUSINESS. AND IF HE DID DO A STADIUM HE WOULD CONTACT ME. HE RECENTLY FUNDED AND CONTROLLED THE DESIGN OF A NEW BASKETBALL STADIUM AT THE UNIVERSITY OF OREGON. A CONSERVATIVE ONE DIMENSIONAL ARENA. AROUND 2005 I DID A PITCH AGAIN TO PHIL KNIGHT TO DO A MINI SPORTS COMMUNITY IN PORTLAND. THE IDEA WAS TO MAKE IT GREEN AND SOCIALLY CONSCIOUS URBAN MODEL TO INSPIRE THE REST OF PORTLAND TO FOLLOW SUIT. HE WROTE BACK THAT HE WAS NOT INTERESTED IN THAT AT THE MOMENT. TO ME PHIL KNIGHT IS THE MOST POWERFUL MAN IN ATHLETICS. NIKE THINKS GLOBALLY. WITH THIS ASSESSMENT, PHIL COULD DO ANY SPORTS COMPLEX HE WANTED. HE HAS ALL THE RIGHT PEOPLE AROUND HIM TO SPIN IT GREEN AND SOCIALLY CONSCIOUS TO CREATE A REVOLUTION TO LEAD THE WAY. THE CONCEPT BEING THE STADIUM COMMUNITY IS LARGE ENOUGH TO SHOW THE WAY FOR THE REST OF THE CITY TO EMULATE. HE CAN STILL DO IT AS A POSITIVE LEGACY. CHARLES BARKLEY, OF BASKETBALL FAME, TELLS A STORY OF BEING WITH PHIL KNIGHT WHEN A DOWN TURN IN THE STOCK MARKET OCCURED, PHIL SAYING TO BARKLEY THAT HE HAD LOST SOME STAGGERING AMOUNT OF MILLIONS OF DOLLARS THAT DAY. BARKLEY’S RESPONSE WAS ” PHIL YOU SEEM TO BE TAKING IT WELL”. SINCE THEN NIKE HAS CONTINUED TO PROSPER BIG TIME.

BUT UNFORTUNATELY, PHIL KNIGHT TYPIFIES BIG MONEY, LIMITED THINKING. PHIL IS NOT THE BILL BOWERMAN COACH AND CO FOUNDER AND INVENTOR OF NIKE SHOES THAT WE BOTH KNEW AND RESPECTED, WHO WAS ALWAYS EXPERIMENTING AND LOOKING FOR NEW THINGS TO IMPROVE. IF BOWERMAN HAD LIVED LONGER I THINK I COULD OF GOT HIM INTERESTED, WHEN I CONTACTED HIM AROUND 1992 WITH THE ARTICLE HE WAS ON HIS WAY OUT AND HEADING BACK TO HIS HOME TOWN TO DIE IN PEACE. WHEN I PHONED, HE HAD NOT HEARD FROM ME SINCE COLLEGE DAYS, HIS RESPONSE WAS ” IS THIS MY GLEN SMALL.”

IN 1982 I ESCORTED A GROUP OF SCI-ARC STUDENTS TO EUROPE AND WE VISTED FREI OTTO IN HIS TENSION STRUCTURE STUDIO. WHEN I SHOWED HIM THE GREAT STADIUM ISSUE HE EXPRESSED AN INTEREST. BUT HE WAS IN A HURRY TO RUN OFF TO SOME FACULTY MEETING. HIS WORDS OF WISDOM WERE THAT, “MAN HAD A NEED TO BUILD, EVEN WHEN THERE WAS NO REASON TO DO SO.” YEARS LATTER AT USC WE MEET AGAIN. HE WAS ACTUALLY SHY. MY READ IS THAT INSPIRED TALENT IS CONSUMED WITH THEIR OWN WORLDS AND DO NOT REACH OUT TO RELATE TO OTHER DESIGNERS.

WISHING YOU THE BEST,

GLEN

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