Populous to call the tune of Oriole Park rejig


Oriole Park upgrade will be done by Populous Image: Oriole Park at Camden Yards, Englishgroup2016, CC BY-SA 4.0

Populous, a globally-recognized sports architecture firm, has been chosen to lead the design team that will make hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of capital improvements to the Oriole Park at Camden Yards in Baltimore, Maryland (US).

‘BALTIMORE FISHBOWL’ stated that the Maryland Stadium Authority voted on July 2nd to approve the selection of the Kansas City (US)-based sports design firm to be the Lead Architect for approximately $400 million worth of upgrades that the State agreed to fund at the 32-year-old ballpark if the Major League Baseball (MLB) team Baltimore Orioles signed a 15-year lease, which they did last year.

Populous is a global architectural and design practice with regional headquarters in Kansas City, London and Brisbane, specializing in sports facilities, arenas and convention centers as well as in the planning and design of major special events.

The Oriole Park at Camden Yards, commonly known as the Camden Yards, is a baseball stadium in Baltimore, Maryland (US). It is the ballpark of Major League Baseball’s (MLB’s) Baltimore Orioles and the first of the “retro” major league ballparks constructed during the 1990s and early 2000s.

The Baltimore Orioles are an American professional baseball team based in Baltimore (US). The Orioles compete in Major League Baseball (MLB) as a member of the American League East Division.

Baltimore (US)-based the Maryland Stadium Authority plans, finances, builds, and manages sports facilities, convention centers, entertainment venues, and other projects in Maryland (US).

Jeffrey Provenzano, Vice-President, Facilities, Maryland Stadium Authority, US, is a Member of Coliseum Global Sports Venue Alliance.

‘BALTIMORE FISHBOWL’ further stated that the Populous’s Associate Architect will be the Adams Design Group of Baltimore, a minority business enterprise founded by Derrick Adams, who attended the meeting.

Baltimore (US)-based the Adams Design Group believes in bringing together the best people in order to make a project successful. They believe in an integrated process where the client is a co-designer along with the architect, engineers and the other specialists.

The Stadium Authority also approved a team called the Gilbane-WarrenBuilds Joint Venture to serve as the Construction Manager for the Oriole Park improvements. That contract still must be approved by the State’s Board of Public Works on July 17th before it becomes final. The contract with Populous and Adams does not need approval from the Board of Public Works (Maryland’s highest administrative body).

The two contracts are among the largest and most significant construction contracts that the Maryland officials are likely to consider this year along with a design-build contract to replace the Francis Scott Key Bridge that collapsed in March.

The Stadium Authority’s action is also a sign that the State and the club are getting closer to making a new round of ballpark upgrades under the Orioles’ new ownership team led by David Rubenstein.

The State offered funding for ballpark improvements as an incentive to get the Orioles to sign a new lease after the team’s previous one expired in 2023. A funding package was also offered to the National Football League (NFL) team Baltimore Ravens for improvements to their home facility – the 71,008-capacity M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore, Maryland, and the Ravens are working with a design team led by Gensler (a global design and architecture firm headquartered in San Francisco, California).

Populous, legally Populous Holdings Inc., is a global architectural and design practice that specializes in sports facilities, arenas and convention centers. It’s a successor to HOK Sport, the sports design firm that served as the original Architect for the Oriole Park at Camden Yards, which is frequently listed as one of the best-liked baseball parks in the United States.

Many of the HOK Principals who worked on Oriole Park in the early 1990s have retired or passed away. The design team for the next series of improvements will be led by Stewart Ervie who did work on Oriole Park while with the HOK and joined Populous in 1987.

Yai Waite, Vice-President of Procurement for the Stadium Authority, said at its Board meeting on July 2nd that seven firms submitted proposals to serve as the Architect for the Oriole Park improvements and three were invited to make presentations last Spring to a selection panel that included both Stadium Authority and Orioles representatives.

The other finalists were teams headed by Gensler, a global firm with a Baltimore office, and the MSA Design, headed by Michael Schuster and based in Cincinnati, Ohio. Of the three, Waite said, the Populous and Adams team received the highest technical score and offered the lowest fee for its services: Just over $15 million.

Waite said the Stadium Authority received four proposals from the construction management teams and shortlisted three before selecting the Gilbane-WarrenBuilds Joint Venture. The Board of Public Works will be asked to approve an initial contract of $1.097 million that will enable it to begin the pre-construction work.

Philip Hutson, the Stadium Authority’s Vice-President of Capital Projects and Planning at the Camden Yards Sport Complex, said the scope of ballpark improvements has not been defined.

He said the work essentially can be divided into two “buckets”: Projects that will improve the “fan experience”, such as a new videoboard and infrastructure projects that fans may not notice but are essential to keep the Oriole Park operating in top condition, such as replacement of its chiller plant.

Hutson said he doesn’t have a time frame for when construction might begin on the improvements. He said one of the next steps, now that the key consultants have been identified, will be for the Stadium Authority officials to meet with the Orioles representatives to come up with a list of improvements they’d like to carry out and use that to guide the planning.

The Camden Yards Sports Complex is located in the center of Baltimore, Maryland (US). The complex is composed of multiple buildings and stadiums including the Oriole Park at Camden Yards and the M&T Bank Stadium.

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