I’ve made a couple of recent comments about how I wish that, after nearly 20 years of nostalgia-based ballpark design, the architects in charge of the few remaining big league projects would be a bit more adventurous. I don’t need the Wexner Center or Beijing National Stadium, but a little something to stir the imagination — rather than the memory — would be nice, wouldn’t it?
But I’ll admit that I’m probably in the minority here. Frank Deford certainly disagrees:
In a front-page article in The New York Times, architecture critic Nicolai Ouroussoff expressed “disappointment” on behalf of “students of architecture,” because the Mets’ and Yankees’ new baseball parks don’t embrace the modern but, instead, celebrate a “nostalgic vision.”
Speaking for students of baseball, I’m sorry, but in constructing some things, the trick is not to run away from nostalgia but simply to monkey around with it and try to gussy it up a bit. Architecturally, baseball parks are like mousetraps. No one has found a way to build a better one than the Orioles did in 1992, when they gave Camden Yards to a grateful world. All of the 18 major league fields and scores of minor league parks built since then have been wise enough to follow that pretty model.
At the risk of totally unearned snobbery (i.e. I have no architectural training at all), I’ll note that everyone followed the model of those Brutalist office buildings from the 60s and 70s too, and that didn’t lead us anywhere terribly fulfilling. Sure, I’ll take Camden Yards over Boston City Hall seven days a week, but we have to appreciate that someone, somewhere and at some time thought about such things much differently. Who’s to say we won’t feel the same way about ballparks, and why then, isn’t each project developed more independently with a greater focus on where it is and what it’s trying to accomplish than what worked in another city?
(thanks to ShysterBall’s architecture, grad school, and South Dakota affairs correspondent, Sara K for the heads up)