CHALLENGE. Until the early 1990s, the Major League Baseball experience was inundated with facilities that served as home to more than one sport. Two decades ago, Populous changed that model of ballpark design.
In 1992 the Baltimore Orioles challenged Populous with the task of creating a baseball-specific facility in an urban environment that was unique to the evolution of the sport. While creating this baseball-specific stadium, Populous also had to honor the historic area in which the new ballpark would be located. The site’s adjacency to Baltimore’s Inner Harbor Development and the existence of the B&O Warehouse buildings imparted a unique and challenging nature to the planning process.
INNOVATION. Populous was able to preserve the area’s unique atmosphere by retaining the existing, turn-of-the-century B&O Warehouse in the outfield, and also by integrating nearby Eutaw Street into the design. The position of the warehouse beyond right field wall creates an instantly recognizable backdrop for Oriole Park, and provides a strong sense of enclosure.
The warehouse was a source of inspiration for the materials and detailing of other aspects of the new ballpark. Although the warehouse and ballpark were planned to have a similar, classic design, Populous chose to slightly separate the two buildings in order to give each facility its own significance and character.
The integration of Eutaw Street into Oriole Park’s design not only brought the historic area together as one unit, but also increased the functionality of the overall ballpark design. This street provides the major entry points to the ballpark during games, and functions as a public plaza when baseball is not in session.
IMPACT. By embracing the idea that a ballpark’s atmosphere could enhance the experience of watching America’s pastime, and also realizing that a space that houses multiple sports makes a home for none of them, Populous sparked the revitalization of baseball stadiums by transforming the model of a multi-sports facility into a single-purpose baseball haven. The year Oriole Park opened, downtown Baltimore spending increased 260 percent. More than 15 years after its opening, Oriole Park’s presence was still making an impact; it continues to generate more than $165 million in sales and tax revenues near $10 million per year. Twenty years later, the impact of Populous’ design continues to impact the development of single-sport facilities throughout the world.