Earlier this morning, New York City FC announced the selection of architecture firm HOK to design the club’s stadium in Willets Point, Queens. The club also announced the selection of Turner Construction Company to be the general contractor of the $780 million “Cathedral of Soccer,” in the words of NYCFC President and CEO Brad Sims.
We’ll get into the significance of the decision to pick HOK and Turner in a moment. Suffice it to say that the announcement represents an important step forward in NYCFC’s endeavor to build a home in Queens, and keeps the project on track for the proposed 2027 opening.
Remember, we’re looking at a public review process that will last one year. As Chris Campbell explains so extensively in the Outfield, the city’s extensive Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP) is expected to begin in September, with the hope approval in the spring of 2024. If things go well, construction could begin shortly after. A timeline only works if you stick to it.
HOK and Turner: Two heavy hitters
Established in 1955, HOK is one of the largest design and engineering firms in the world: The company has 25 offices and more than 1,600 employees. HOK has a solid portfolio of stadia, having designed CITYPARK, home to St. Louis City SC, and Mercedes-Benz Stadium, home to Atlanta United, among others.
But more germane to the NYCFC fans, HOK is the firm behind LaGuardia Airport’s Terminal B, the airy building that transformed what was easily the most miserable airport in the United States into one of the most elegant. Not bad for a cramped site wedged between a highway and runway.
Remember, the construction took place while the airport was fully functional, and HOK pulled off a hat trick of dazzling the public, the critics, and the clients — working for Governor Andrew Cuomo and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey can’t be easy. Terminal B is more than an example of good design, it’s proof that HOK knows how to get things done in New York City.
The same can be said of Turner, which built Yankee Stadium, USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, and Arthur Ashe Stadium. The unionized general contractor is a giant in the New York City construction industry. Turner even has a dedicated Sports Group, and built SoFi Stadium in Los Angeles, TQL Stadium in Cincinnati, and Lower.com Field in Columbus.
Just as important, HOK and Turner have a long track record of working together, with more than 400 projects under their belts. That kind of familiarity and experience is important when embarking on a large undertaking like this one in New York City.
No renderings yet
NYCFC might have chosen HOK, but don’t expect any renderings of the Queens stadium any time soon.
Who doesn’t love gazing at the computer-generated areal images of a packed stadium at night, or an entrance plaza filled with fans with scarves and vendors with churros? Or the supporter’s section? OR THE BRICKS WITH THE NAMES OF FOUNDING MEMBERS?
We’re sorry to say it, but you’re going to need to be patient. There’s a lot to be done before HOK delights us with their drawings. (See below.)
Focus group season?
One of the next phases in the design process will be putting together focus groups selected from the NYCFC faithful.
Yes, that’s right: NYCFC will start to reach out to season ticket holders and other stakeholders to ask them what they want to see in a new stadium. Soon you will have the chance to let the club and designers know that you want the new field to be 70 yards wide, and a yellow foul pole on the corner, and a food hall that’s more Citi Field than Yankee Soccer Stadium. If chosen, be sure to speak loudly and clearly so that everybody on the other side of the one-way mirror can hear you.
While there’s no timeframe for when focus group season will start, NYCFC are making it clear that they value input from their fanbase.
Below is a statement from NYCFC President and CEO Brad Sims:
“We’re extremely excited to announce HOK as the architect and Turner Construction Company as the general contractor for our future home. It is clear that HOK and Turner are the right partners to bring our vision of a world-class stadium that is integrated into the local community. Soccer is known around the globe for its incredible in-stadium atmospheres, and we are committed to delivering a best-in-class experience for our fans in a stadium that reflects the greatest city in the world.
“This project will be transformative for Queens; the World’s Borough is the perfect location to build the City’s first stadium for the world’s game. Stadiums are where people come together, and we share a vision with HOK to ensure our stadium becomes a destination of soccer for our fans while playing an important part in the development of Willets Point. HOK is renowned for designing some of North America’s most successful stadiums, arenas, and entertainment districts, and we are looking forward to working with them as we enter the ULURP approval process. Turner is recognized as a leading builder of stadiums, arenas and ballparks – including one dozen Major League Soccer stadiums – that support the communities in which they are built.”