‘Skin’ design of Bills new home renderings


Buffalo Bills release stadium design renderings Image: Buffalo Bills & Populous

New artist renderings of a proposed stadium released by the National Football League (NFL) team Buffalo Bills (US) on February 27th allow fans to better imagine how they will view the action in the new venue and how the taller stacking of levels will create that feel.

‘The Buffalo News’ stated that new elements that can be seen more closely in the drawings also show sections that would be underneath a partial roof – or canopy – providing a better perspective of how far it will hang over the stadium.

The Buffalo Bills are a professional American football team based in the Buffalo metropolitan area. The Bills compete in the National Football League (NFL) as a member club of the league’s American Football Conference East division. The team plays its home games at the Highmark Stadium in Orchard Park, New York, US.

The 71,608-capacity Highmark Stadium is a stadium in Orchard Park, New York (US) in the Southtowns of the Buffalo metropolitan area. The stadium opened in 1973 as the Rich Stadium and is the home venue of the Buffalo Bills of the National Football League (NFL).

The 62,000-capacity planned venue of the Bills would cost $1.35 billion and will be built adjacent to the Erie Community College’s South campus across the street from the Highmark Stadium, which would be demolished. The stadium will be designed by the celebrated design studio Populous, who has previously designed 12 other active NFL stadiums, with which the new Orchard Park stadium will share numerous design elements and features.

‘The Buffalo News’ further stated that the Bills released four drawings that help provide fans some new perspectives of what’s expected to come in 2026.

Also among the latest documents is an updated version of the entire site map of the proposed $1.4 billion stadium and its surrounding area, providing more of the vision for the facility to be built across the street on Abbott Road from the current Highmark Stadium.

Remarked Ron Raccuia, Chief Operating Officer (COO) and Executive Vice-President for the Bills, “It’s really exciting for the fans to see what we continue to work on, and these images bring it to life more so than ever before.”

The final deal for the stadium has not been finalized, and the detailed lease documents have not been made public, but that is getting closer. The Erie County Legislature must provide a final OK, and there are still some details that must be hashed out by the Erie County Stadium Corporation, the State entity that will hold a new 30-year lease with the team.

The Erie County Stadium Corporation is a subsidiary corporation of the New York State Urban Development Corporation d/b/a Empire State Development whose purpose is to facilitate the performance of the essential Governmental functions in connection with the construction and use of the stadium located in Orchard Park by the Buffalo Bills NFL team.

The New York State and Erie County last year approved a tentative deal providing $850 million in public funding for the stadium project. The 1.35-million-square-foot stadium with around 60,000 to 62,000 seats and a standing room area and party deck would be built on an approximately 242-acre swath of land in Orchard Park.

The new renderings released by the Bills on February 27th include an up-close view from the field level, two exterior views from around the stadium with more detail than has been seen previously and the facility site plan, which Raccuia said will be “impactful”.

Added Raccuia, “The overall site plan will be transformative, not only for the team and the organization, but for the entire community.”

The tall, strongly vertical structure is designed with a perforated metal exterior that allows fans approaching from the main plaza to get a peek at the inside of the stadium.

As seen in one of the new renderings, that exterior – or ‘skin’, as architects often call it – is designed in vertical sections that are reminiscent of mid-20th century Buffalo architecture.

The renderings also provide a closer look at where the metal skin of the exterior is met by a curved brick wall adjacent to the stadium’s entrances.

Jonathan Mallie, a member of the Populous design team on the stadium, said last year, “Above the brick coursing, perforated metal panels create a lighter sense of movement and fluidity as they traverse the upper levels of the stadium, creating a sense of movement and flow, like the trajectory of a Josh Allen pass moving through the air with speed and intent.”

A sharper image of the partial roof can be seen on the field rendering. That canopy is intended to provide coverage from precipitation for about 65 percent of the stadium seats, including the upper deck, most of the end zone area, and some of the lower bowl. It will also mitigate the wind impact on the game and increase the comfort for fans in attendance.

Added Mallie, “The tightness of the seating bowl, the overhangs, the stands, and the tiers stacking on top of each other – all of that is bringing in everything nice and tight, as opposed to a very open and wide seating bowl, which is what Highmark Stadium is. That, in conjunction with the exterior form of the building, is doing what we need to do to mitigate the wind.”

The Bills released the first two renderings of the stadium in October last year, but since have not come out with any further images to share with the public. The preparation for the start of construction is scheduled for this Spring, while the groundbreaking is slated for June.

The new release by the Buffalo Bills came four days after six renderings, four of which had never been seen before, came out on the website of a company that works with stadium designer Populous. That company, Pictury, works as a subcontractor in creating venue renderings. The website with those drawings – which include some outdated iterations of the stadium design – has since been closed to the public, but not before the renderings made the rounds on social media and among Bills fans.

The team has said plans continue to evolve for the stadium design, and what may have been in one iteration of a drawing by architectural firm Populous may not be in the next one.

Kansas City, Missouri, US-based Populous is a global architectural and design practice specializing in sports facilities, arenas and convention centers, as well as the planning and design of major special events. Populous was created through a management buyout in January 2009, becoming independently owned and operated.

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