- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 8, 2005

HOK Sport, one of the three finalists to build the Washington Nationals’ planned stadium in Southeast, wants to construct a facility that is “part monument, part ballpark.”

Earl Santee, senior vice president for HOK Sport, said his vision for the ballpark would establish a new archetype in sports architecture. It does not include any brick; instead, it employs glass and stone in its exterior for a more modern structure.

“We want to see a modern facility that pushes stadium design into another generation. That’s our objective,” said Mr. Santee, who spoke yesterday in New York at the World Congress of Sport, a gathering of sports industry executives.

HOK Sport, which has designed 10 of the last 14 stadiums to be built in Major League Baseball, is viewed as the favorite for the Nationals’ ballpark over design teams led by Dallas-based HKS Inc. and Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, an international firm with extensive experience in urban and commercial work. A decision on the architect is expected either Friday or Monday.

Each of the design teams participated in interviews last week with the District’s evaluation group, which includes two members of the D.C. Sports & Entertainment Commission, two officials from the D.C. government and two Washington Nationals executives. Mr. Santee said HOK Sport presented several preliminary design treatments for the stadium at its interview.

Mr. Santee’s aggressive, forward-looking aim for the stadium by no means is unexpected. The request for proposals for the Nationals stadium specifically asked for something “timeless, unique in the nation’s capital and its waterfront setting and representative of 21st century architectural ideals.” But Mr. Santee’s comments represent the first glimpse of the way the design industry responded.

“This truly is a once-in-a-lifetime project,” Mr. Santee said. “I’ve been wanting to work on a D.C. baseball stadium for more than 15 years, so we’re obviously very hopeful” of winning the design contract.

If HOK gets the job, the stadium could be similar to a ballpark planned for the Florida Marlins. That stadium, also an HOK design, is projected to be made of glass and steel, also eschewing the brick that has dominated the past 15 years of ballpark construction.

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