CHALLENGE. Planning for the new Pittsburgh Steelers’ stadium had to focus on evaluating potential site locations in the downtown area, emphasizing the potential to maximize and improve the city’s image, and addressing how the stadium could contribute to the improvement of the riverfront area where it would be located.
The stadium’s construction represented an understanding of what “downtown” is – integrating places of working, living, gathering and celebrating into a comprehensive experience that ultimately symbolized the personality of Pittsburgh.
Populous was challenged with creating a football stadium that not only beautified the North Shore neighborhood, but honored the region’s history with a design that reflected its steel production.
INNOVATION. The steel industry is an integral aspect of Pittsburgh’s history. In fact, the Steelers have taken their name from this heritage. Reflecting that legacy, steel was a primary building material in the stadium, incorporated as a contemporary expression of Pittsburgh. While the material itself respects the heritage of the city, design of the steel shapes and sections conveys an image that looks to the future.
The stadium’s horseshoe configuration, which provides a view of the Ohio River and Pittsburgh skyline through the open south end, strengthens the historic link to football as it originated on the college campus. The field is not only NFL compatible, but also converts for collegiate use for the University of Pittsburgh.
Views in and out of the stadium are captured through a series of breaks in the seating configuration. In addition to the open south end, the northeast and northwest corners are open, establishing a dynamic link to the surrounding areas. The stadium’s upper concourses are visible from outside the facility, and fans in that area have views of downtown. As fans approach the facility, glimpses of activity inside generate a sense of strong anticipation.
As with the south end zone, the uniqueness of the fan experience continues through the exploration of the east side of the facility. Here the Coca-Cola Great Hall was created with wide concourses and special amenities for the fan at street level. The hall establishes a physical tie between fan and facility, contributing to a grander experience of a unique atmosphere.
IMPACT. Heinz Field was completed in 2001 and has contributed to urban development along the Ohio River front. The open south end of the stadium creates a connection between the stadium and downtown; the city becomes part of the game day experience. Heinz Field echoes Pittsburgh’s rich heritage, and the placement ensures a strong connection between the city’s urban character and its newest landmarks.