Projects   Project Portfolio – November 2006
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University of Phoenix Stadium

Glendale, Arizona
Eisenman Architects

In the Valley of the Sun, Eisenman Architects and HOK Sport create a shimmering desert nest for the Arizona Cardinals and their flock of fans 


Photo © Arizona Cardinals

By Joann Gonchar, AIA

In the otherwise parched landscape of the so-called Valley of the Sun, the shimmering new stadium for the National Football League’s Arizona Cardinals rises from the incongruously lush farmlands immediately surrounding it like a strange but pleasing apparition. Chameleonlike, the building’s double-curved steel cladding reflects light differently throughout the day. At night, the stadium seems to phosphoresce, glowing from within through its 21 glazed slots, or “canyons.”

The form, spiraling and segmented, was inspired by barrel cacti indigenous to the Arizona desert, and Native American symbols, such as the coiled snake and the Mandala, says design architect Peter Eisenman, FAIA, who has been an avid football fan since his undergraduate days, when he was a cheerleader at Cornell. But, in addition to an exterior that is surprisingly bold for a U.S. professional sports facility, the $450 million stadium has several attention-grabbing high-tech features. The natural turf field, contained in a gigantic “cake tray,” can be rolled out of the building through an opening beyond the south end zone. The arrangement ensures sufficient sunlight for the grass, and also provides a suitable floor surface for events like concerts and conventions. It is the first of its kind in North America.

The other impressive moving part is the retractable roof. Since the Cardinals’ move from St. Louis in 1988, the team had played under the brutal sun in an open-air stadium in Tempe, Arizona, where it was plagued by poor attendance, especially at early season games. But now, spectators can watch the game in shaded air-conditioned comfort.

Access to the action on the field drove the configuration of the four reinforced-concrete concourses—one each for upper and lower seating bowls, and two in between serving suites and other “premium seating.” These concourses and the many concessions are not closed off in a traditional stadium vomitory. Although the game is not visible from all vantages, fans can, at minimum, see and hear the response of the crowd.

With 63,000 seats, and the potential to add 10,000 more for events like the Fiesta and Super Bowls, circulation was a chief planning issue. To make vertical circulation as efficient, contractors used excavation soil to build up the site around the stadium, allowing the field to be depressed 36 feet below grade and the main concourse. About 40 percent of the spectators descend after entering to seats in the lower bowl.

Want the full story? Read the entire article in our November 2006 issue.
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the People

Arizona Cardinals
Arizona Sports & Tourism Authority

Design Architect
Eisenman Architects
41 West 25th Street, 11th Floor
New York, NY 10010
Tel: 212.645.1400
Fax: 212.645.0726

Facility Architect
HOK Sport
300 Wyandotte, Suite 300
Kansas City, Missouri 64105
Tel: (816) 221-1500
Fax: (816) 221 1578

Design Principal:
Peter Eisenman, FAIA

Project Architect:
Richard Rosson, AIA

Project Designers:
Marta Caldeira, Pablo Lorenzo-Eiroa

HOK Sport:
Principal In Charge:
Dennis Wellner, AIA

Project Architect:
Jeff Spear, AIA

Project Manager:
Jack Boyle, AIA


Environmental Graphic:
Pentagram Desig

Design and Interiors:
Entro Communications

Project Management:
Land Strategies

N. W. Getz & Associates

Columbus Consulting


Structural Roof Engineer:
Walter P. Moore

Structural Frame Engineer:

Mechanical / Electrical Engineer:
M-E Engineers

Food Service Design:

Geotechnical Engineer:

Playing Field:
CMX Sports Engineers

Civil Engineer:
Evans, Kuhn and Associates

Electrical Engineer:
CR Engineers

Civil Engineer:
MX Sports Engineers, Inc.

Bridge Engineer:
Stanley Consultants

Code Consultant:

General contractor:
Hunt Construction Group

David Sundberg/Esto
Roland Halbe


CAD system, project management, or other software used:


Microsoft Office

the Products

Structural Concrete:
Kiewit Western

Precast Concrete:
Kiewit Western

Exterior Enclosure:
Crown Corr

Structural Steel:
Schuff Steel

Structural Roof Lift:

Roof & Field Mechanization:

HVAC & Plumbing:
TD Industries

Cannon & Wendt

Fire Protection:
Aero Automatic


Audio / Visual Systems:
Pro Sound


Stadium Seating:
Irwin Seating

Playing Field:
Valley Crest

Elevators / Escalators: 

Fabric Roof:
Taiyo Birdair

Sun Valley

Steel Stairs & Railings:
Southwest Stair

Metal Framing / Drywall:


GM Nameplate

Food Service Equipment:



Grading & Paving:
Markham Construction

Kimbrell Electric

Plaza Concrete
Concrete Finishing

Site Concrete
RBG Construction

Storm Drainage
C S & W Construction

95th Ave Bridges
CS Construction

Valley Crest


Water Feature:
Aquatec Fountains

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