We have seen photoshops of what the Senator’s old arena, Canadian Tire Place, could look like if moved to LeBreton Flats. But what would a new arena actually look like? How could it be integrated into a new urban community?
On your behalf, your faithful correspondent did some field research. For the next week or more, lets look closely at Amway Arena (the Magics and Solar Bears, Orlando) and Amelie Arena (Tampa Bay Lighting). Let’s look at the architecture of an urban arena, the surrounding neighbourhoods, and of course, the parking.
First up: Amway Arena, Orlando, Florida
The Amway centre was built c2010. Downtown Orlando’s highrises are on the opposite side of the i4 Freeway shown to the left. The building complex has freeways and interchanges on two sides. The long south side facing the freeway and the downtown is shown above. There is a huge electronic billboard facing the freeway. The more friendly front entrance is on the SE (right) corner, and is all glazing.
Moving around the building, its main face is onto South Street (photo above). The glass tower is designed for visibility from the adjacent freeways. It contains restaurants and bars on the upper levels (indoors and outdoors) with fine views over the freeway to the downtown high rises. Given the mild climate, the box offices are outdoors. There is one ground floor retail outlet, a sports memorabilia store.
Shown above is the rest of the South Street facade. Note the curbless transition from plaza to street, a well done feature we will see more photos of in a few days.
Here’s the view, above, of the Amway Center from the “back” side, looking up South Street with the downtown in the distance. The abundant glazing that characterized the main entrance area is replaced with simpler panelling and slot windows as we move back.
above: more of the back side, facing a newish housing project, part of making major expenditures like this appeal to a variety of stakeholders and competing interests. We will see more of the adjacent neighbourhoods in a subsequent story. The back is basically blank.
above: more of the back sides. Surface parking was minimal on the actual arena block. Some paved areas are required for deliveries and staging.
above: another side of the arena, with large garage doors onto indoor loading docks. Note the limited setbacks from the sidewalks.
above: loading docks with larger setbacks.
Due to the limited staging areas immediately outside the Center, or inside it, equipment and performers were constantly moving from the bottom of an adjacent parking structure into the arena. No Magic Johnston. No Solar Bears ice hockey players. But exotic performers none the less.
The side facing the freeway again … and the front glass tower coming into sight. We have now walked all the way around the building.
above: the landscaping and “nice stuff” is concentrated on the front corner and side facing South Street, which continues to the right under the freeway interchanges into the downtown core.
above: looking back from South Street along the south facade of Amway Center and the i4 freeway.
I was pleased with the quality of the exterior materials and the finish of the whole building. I liked the lack of huge surface parking lots. I liked the short loading ramps into the docks as they were “urban” rather than warehouse-y. I liked the glazing and finishes on the “front” of the building, ie the corner facing the freeway and the side facing South Street. The other faces were less detailed, and did not welcome or even relate to the adjacent community.
I would not want this building on LeBreton Flats.
Next: adjacent streets, parking