The Story Behind the Design - From the Designer

One of my favorite things about PNC Park is the story about what’s not there. We took great pains to preserve views across the Allegheny River to downtown Pittsburgh, but late in the design process, our engineers wanted to put a couple of the “toothbrush” lighting standards right in center field to get the even light levels that broadcasting requires. After a fairly intense negotiation with the engineers, we moved those two light standards out of center field: one to the right edge of the scoreboard, and one to the last bay of the right field seats. We had to add a few lights to get the levels desired, but it was well worth the effort, because the view of the skyline is greatly enhanced by the absence of those two light towers.

Tal’s Hill in center field is no more, having been removed before the 2019 season, but many people don’t know how Tal’s Hill got there in the first place. Before I ever started designing the Ballpark at Union Station (as the project was called before naming rights had been sold), I did a presentation to the Astros on design precedents, citing Houston’s architectural history, the romance of railroads (the “Union Station” part), and the romance of baseball. In the latter section, I made the point that baseball has quirky outfields, some of which even had slopes, at which point Tal Smith, then president of the baseball club, emphatically agreed, pointing out that Crosley Field (home of the Cincinnati Reds from 1912 to 1970) had a prominent slope in left field. We located our slope in dead center field, beyond the warning track, and even placed the U.S. flagpole on the s lope, in play, another feature of many vintage ballparks. Alas, all that was eliminated in 2019.

The Peoria Civic Center Revitalization is a story of how to expand an existing center while continuing operations throughout construction. The Civic Center was and is the primary gathering space in Peoria, and could not be shut down for expansion. Working closely with the construction manager, our team envisioned an expansion that could be accomplished while the building remained open. We were even able to relocate the central mechanical plant from the basement to the roof of the expansion during a September week when the need for heating and cooling was minimal. The expanded facility greatly improved the function and appearance of the center, without missing a single previously scheduled event.