At work he has been busy helping design the exterior of the Florida Marlins’ 38,000-seat stadium.
“It’s bound to be controversial, which is not a bad thing because it gets people talking,” Cheong says. “Some people may think it looks like a spaceship, while others will see it as a piece of art. The Marlins’ owner is an art collector and he’s made it known he wants the stadium to be a ball park as well as piece of sculpture.”
Part of the expected controversy is the stadium’s location—amid a number of single-storey homes.
The building is also being designed to be environmentally friendly by adhering to the silver LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) standard. Achieving that will rest—in part—to the building’s retractable roof which will allow it to be air conditioned during the hot and humid Florida weather.
One unique feature will be the movable outfield wall which when removed will provide good views of the city’s skyline, and permit a natural flow of air across the grass field.
That’s important for the natural grass to adequately dry out, says Cheong, adding great consideration was also given to the building’s orientation so the grass could receive a daily minimum of four hours of exposure to sunlight to keep it healthy.
“It was important to have a real grass field,” Cheong says. “The players prefer it. You even get some players using that as a way deciding which team they want to play for.”
Innovative and “green” design is a new trend in downtown construction but is unfamiliar in the baseball universe. The Marlins ballpark is clearly going to be different from every ballpark built since 1990 in that it will look more like modern art (think of the Birds Nest and Aquatic Center in Beijing) rather than the nth new retro ballpark. The risk here is that you end up another Skydome — cool and space age at first, but ultimately out of date — but then again you could also end up with another US Cellular Field where retro can feel like a fake shopping center.
Note: I personally prefer modern although I always assumed some form of Art Deco or Cuban-inspired design would work well. That being said, I just want a new ballpark and a roof so the Marlins can survive and compete.