Ben B. Barnert Project of the Year Award

Populous lost Senior Principal Ben Barnert in the summer of 2013 after a courageous battle with brain cancer. Those of us who were fortunate enough to work with Ben knew him in many ways: as a practical jokester, as a talented architect and as a businessman full of vigor. Ben understood the value of building lasting and true relationships with his clients and design teams. Driven by a belief in working hard and having a good time doing it, Ben was known for inspiring our design teams to reach their full potential. Places which helped to build our brand, like Camden Yards, M&T Bank Stadium, Heinz Field, Bridgestone Arena, PETCO Park, Sprint Center, JetBlue Park and Citi Field are the physical manifestation of Ben’s work, but his spirit comes alive in the millions of fans who take joy every year in these wonderful buildings.

Ben’s inspiring legacy remains a part of daily life at Populous. Today, we keep his spirit, his wit and his leadership alive with the Ben B. Barnert Award. Once a year, Populous leadership selects a project that embodies the true spirit of all for which Ben stood – hard work, humor, character, compassion, relationships, and, above all, excellence.

Ben didn’t leave us with just great architecture in cities all across America; he left us with inspiration to carry Populous into the future. We are proud to honor his legacy with the Ben B. Barnert Project of the Year Award.

T-Mobile Arena

CHALLENGE. T-Mobile Arena, an AEG and MGM Resorts International joint venture, tells a cohesive story about Las Vegas and its contrasting influences through a dynamic design. With the desert and Spring Mountains directly to the west, and the pulsating Las Vegas Boulevard to the east, the arena design captures these juxtaposing facets and melds them into an authentic expression of the city’s drama and excitement while showcasing the spectacular surrounding landscape.

INNOVATION. To capture the excitement of The Strip, the design includes an expansive glass façade with an LED overlay; sweeping, dramatic balconies along Park Avenue (formerly Rue de Monte Carlo); an outdoor performance stage and a sleek exterior that is as bold as it is sophisticated, creating an iconic focal point amongst the city’s bustling entertainment market. Desert and mountain influences are expressed in the south and west facades of the arena – a solid skin that protects against the intense desert sun. This “of the desert” skin wraps the arena’s elliptical form with undulating bands of metal that evoke the color and sedimentary layering of the desert mountains.

Interior spaces within replicate the sedimentary layering visible on the exterior, with the lowest level premium spaces and concourse inspired by the strata of the mountains and premium spaces in the upper levels reflecting the oranges, blues and purples of Las Vegas’ dusk sky. The arena also makes use of a new arrangement of the seating bowl, to allow for maximum seating capacity when set up for concerts. Two dramatic sponsor towers provide unique vantage points and showcase the glamour, energy and ‘see and be seen’ nature of the city, creating a premium experience that will be a bold statement for Las Vegas.

IMPACT. Populous’ design for AEG & MGM Resorts’ new arena creates a monumental impact on the entertainment landscape of Las Vegas’ bustling Strip, providing the city with a first class arena capable of hosting everything from awards shows to concerts to NBA and NHL games. It provides an elegant design and an impetus for a new kind of arena that thinks beyond traditional premium spaces and seating bowl configurations to pave the way for a new kind of sports and entertainment experience.


  • 2017 ALSD Spotlight Award | Suites Category

Populous Americas Headquarters

CHALLENGE. They say home is where the heart is. Now and since the beginning, the heart of Populous’ Americas practice beats in Kansas City.

Our current Americas headquarters reside at 4800 Main, a building with a rich origin story in its own right. Situated in the midst of KC’s most refined entertainment district, the former Board of Trade Building dates to the 1960s and originally housed a bustling group of commodity traders. Before we could call it home, a team of Populous designers set out in 2014 to modernize the concrete structure and craft it into a hub for design expertise and fresh thinking.

INNOVATION. Instead of focusing on the result – a building – we focused our design eye on the essence of what makes us Populous: our people. Designing a space for more than 200 talented designers can feel like a herculean task, so we organized our entire design staff, our people, into collaborative design charrettes  to let the best ideas bubble to the top.

The design team took chances and pushed boundaries. A disciplined, cool white environment allows the brand to sing and encourages an activated workplace. An open office benching system serves our immediate and future needs and harkens back to Populous’ entrepreneurial spirit. Branding and dimensional signage are thoughtfully placed to emote energy and foster inspiration.

From the cafe to the lobby, spaces serve a singular purpose: to draw people together. The building’s original trading floor lives on as an expansive auditorium, a place for communal growth and the liaison between our entertainment-focused work and work space.

Externally, an elegant glass curtain wall design modernized the original concrete enclosure. The expression of the vertical metal enclosure is a nod to the once exposed concrete structure, bones that will hold strong for another 50 years. Natural wood and copper detailing and the 48th Street entry pay tribute to an art sculpture once housed on the east  face of the building.

IMPACT. A storied building enjoys a new life while earning recognition for its preservation and sustainability. 4800 Main contributes to  the historic Country Club Plaza  district, one with a reputation for walkability and iconic architecture. Once famous for trading stocks, the space now acts as a different sort of exchange. Designers of all stripes will share ideas and experiences within its walls for years to come.

McLane Stadium at Baylor University

CHALLENGE. When Populous designers began work on McLane Stadium, they realized this was a once in a lifetime opportunity for the university to bring football back to campus in a way that would forever change the face of the university. After playing off-campus at Floyd Casey Stadium for more than 60 years, Baylor University announced in Spring of 2012 plans to open a new, on-campus stadium. Scheduled to open for the 2014 football season and situated adjacent to I-35 and the Brazos River, the new McLane Stadium needed to serve as the front door of the university as it would be visible to the 43 million people who pass by on I-35 each year. The $250 million facility had to visually and physically represent Baylor’s campus, melding with the existing architecture on campus to create a building that could only be home to the Baylor Bears.

The design team for Baylor was challenged to infuse the experiences of campus into the design of the stadium in order to capture the spirit and characteristic traits that make the Baylor campus unique.  The resulting stadium encompasses the university’s short and long-term goals, seamlessly integrating the stadium on campus and within the city of Waco while creating a great fan experience for Baylor football.

INNOVATION. The stadium’s location on campus and the traditions of the university’s football program were the driving force behind the design process for the Populous collegiate stadium architects. The location on the Brazos River provides unique tailgating opportunities and is expected to attract visitors year round with an outdoor amphitheater and walking path that links to the city’s pedestrian trails.  The university’s heritage, coupled with research on the fan base and a unique blend of revenue generation, resulted in a collegiate stadium design that is distinctly representative of the university and is as viable as it is visually appealing. With support from the city of Waco, who recognized the significant impact on revenue and traffic the stadium would have on its downtown, the stadium capitalizes on the specific needs of the university and site positioning of the new stadium. From loge boxes to club seating to a prominent place for the Baylor Line, this strategic approach resulted in a venue that shapes the fan experience for each and every person who enters the stadium while elevating the university’s brand on a national level. The resulting stadium is one of the most beautiful in collegiate football, tying together a campus and a city.

IMPACT. Since the opening of McLane Stadium in the fall of 2014, it has helped revitalize downtown Waco, spur development along the Brazos Riverfront, attract visitors to Baylor’s campus and create a cohesive and unique experience for fans. The stadium has reconnected a region, a city and a campus around the traditions, culture and passion of Baylor’s football program.