Thursday, October 14, 2004

Ballpark Designer Vying for M.V.P.

By PHIL PATTON
The NY Times
October 14, 2004

The major league baseball playoffs are a competitive time of year for Joseph E. Spear. As the founder and a senior principal of HOK Sport Venue Event, the country's leading designer of big league baseball stadiums, Mr. Spear frequently watches his clients slug it out on the field.

He also has a friendly rivalry with Earl Santee, also a senior principal at HOK, over which teams will advance to the World Series. So far, it has not been a good year for teams that play in Spear-designed stadiums. The Giants, the Tigers, the Indians and the Reds all struck out. The Angels, who play in a Santee-designed stadium, were also eliminated. But the Houston Astros, who play in Mr. Santee's Minute Maid Park, and the St. Louis Cardinals, who play in Busch Stadium, refurbished by Mr. Santee, will vie for the National League championship.

This year Mr. Spear, 52, has made another playoff: he is a nominee for the prestigious architecture category of the National Design Awards, which will be announced Tuesday at the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum in New York. The other nominees are Rick Joy, Polshek Partnership and Rafael Viñoly. While Mr. Spear's buildings are no doubt seen by more people than those of his rivals, his stadiums are far less celebrated in the architectural world, a fact that may change, given the exposure and respect generated by the nomination.

"Spear deserves credit for having a remarkable impact on rejuvenating cities," said Martin Moeller, the senior vice president for special projects at the National Building Museum in Washington. "His designs made people realize that stadiums could contribute rather than detract from the urban environment."


Read the entire article here on the NY Times website.