Populous named Fast Company’s Most Innovative Company in Architecture

March 8, 2022

For the sixth time, Populous has been named to Fast Company’s prestigious annual list of the world’s most innovative companies. Ranking Populous as No. 1 in architecture and No. 32 on the World’s 50 Most Innovative Companies list, Fast Company highlights the firm’s revolutionary sustainable design approach for public assembly venues.

Populous earned this year’s honor for its design of Climate Pledge Arena, set to be the world’s most sustainable arena. It marks the second time the firm has been named a leader in a category, after earning No. 1 in live events in 2018. It is the second time Populous has been recognized for its work in architecture, the first being in 2013 with the sustainable design of the 2012 London Olympics. Populous has also previously been named one of Fast Company’s world’s most innovative companies in sports (2009, 2010, 2020).

“Innovation is a hallmark of how we bring people together,” said Bruce Miller, Populous’ Managing Director for the Americas. “We have sought sustainable, industry-leading design solutions since the formation of our practice and are grateful to work with clients that entrust us to create spaces that better our communities and the environment.”

Populous — inspired by the vision of Oak View Group and Amazon to create the most sustainable arena in the world — embarked on Climate Pledge Arena with ambitious objectives to preserve the site’s rich history and create a space to meet the needs of Seattle residents long into the future. Set to be the first net zero carbon arena in the world, Climate Pledge Arena situates an industry-leading venue authentically in an urban neighborhood, revitalizing a historic landmark and cultivating the ultimate experience for fans.

  • The arena offers 360-degree views inside, with all "back-of-house" operational spaces below ground level. (Credit: Climate Pledge Arena)
  • The immersive LED experience throughout the user journey displays wayfinding, events and partner promotion, and atmospheric imagery that is customizable for each event. (Credit: Climate Pledge Arena)

Climate Pledge Arena boasts all-electric operations, eliminating fossil fuels completely and employing on-site renewable energy production. The design began with an epic example of recycling that preserved a 44-million-pound historic roof from the 1962 World’s Fair, reducing the embodied energy use typical of new construction. The arena uses rainwater to resurface the Seattle Kraken’s rink and features a 360-degree accessible park that houses the site’s longest living tenants: 67 mature London Plane trees.

“The world’s most innovative companies play an essential role in addressing the most pressing issues facing society, whether they’re fighting climate change by spurring decarbonization efforts, ameliorating the strain on supply chains or helping us reconnect with one another over shared passions,” said Fast Company Deputy Editor David Lidsky.

Populous is currently leading the design of several other sports and entertainment venues that put sustainability at the heart of the design, to include Co-op Live in Manchester, United Kingdom, and The Cathedral in Milan, Italy. Co-op Live will be a world-class venue that draws together technology, sustainability and multifunctionality designed to support Manchester’s Zero Carbon 2038 commitments. The Cathedral is set to be the most sustainable stadium in Europe, setting a new benchmark for innovative, sustainable and accessible stadiums.

Of the 528 organizations recognized across 52 categories, Populous’ selection to Fast Company’s Top 50 recognizes the firm’s history of transformational contributions to the built world that have put the global design firm at the forefront of businesses shaping a lasting future today.


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