Carlos Zapata, who designed Chicago’s Soldier Field football stadium with Benjamin Wood in 2003, has just unveiled his design for a pro bono stadium in Cité Soleil, Haiti. The 12,000-seat soccer stadium will include an attached school and sports complex in a phased development.
The project, dubbed Phoenix Stadium, will be used by underprivileged youth—and eventually a new professional team seeded, in part, by the best of them—in what is considered to be Haiti’s poorest and most dangerous slum. It is being spearheaded by Morad Fareed, a former player for the Palestinian national soccer team and now a real-estate developer in New York City, and Boby Duval, a former soccer player for Haiti and the founder and director of the Cité Soleil nonprofit L’Athlétique d’Haïti.
The stadium is a longtime dream of Duval’s. Through his nonprofit, on a field he and the organization own, Duval has been providing sports training, education, and meals to more than 1,500 young people since 1995.
Now, on about 16 acres of what was once waterlogged land near his current field, Duval has been diverting rubble from the 2010 earthquake to raise the new field by about 6 feet. This has compacted the soil underneath, making it a suitable surface on which to build the new stadium, says Zapata. Some of the rubble will be pushed aside to create hills that will support concrete planks for seating.
The project is expected to be completed in three phases, based on fundraising (organized by the nonprofit Fareed established for this purpose, Project Phoenix), and will also function as a home for L’Athlétique d’Haïti. The first phase, consisting of an artificial-turf field, some seating, and field lights, will break ground in 2013. The second phase will include the construction of the soccer academy, school, dormitories, and classrooms for roughly 2,000 kids. During the third phase, the seating will expand to include press and other boxes and will be covered by a swooping, winglike roof made of textile stretched over concrete ribs. This enclosed portion will also include community spaces and a basketball court.
Zapata says that when Duval and Fareed approached him to design the stadium, he agreed on the condition that it “shouldn’t be non-architecture.” He explains: “I just didn’t want to do something that ends up compromised. The [youth] don’t have the best deal.” It should be a “beautiful piece of architecture. The program is fantastic.”