Our next prospective arena designer is one of the largest firms in the business, and one that’s had their hand in two recent National Hockey League builds.

A brief history

Formed back in 1955, HOK (Hellmuth, Obata + Kassabaum) has grown into what Wikipedia says is the largest architectural firm in the United States. Their sports work was previously done by an internal group that spun off to form Populous.

HOK acquired 360 Architecture in 2015 to fundamentally fill that void. 360 Architecture itself was formed in 2004 through a merger of two other firms.

Major sports projects since 2005

  • NHL: Rogers Place (Edmonton), Little Caesars Arena (Detroit)
  • NFL: Mercedes Benz Stadium (Atlanta), MetLife Stadium (New Jersey)

HOK (or 360) designs won Sports Business Awards Facility of the Year in each of the past two years. The Flames are likely familiar with their work, as 360 Architecture designed the home arenas for both their AHL team (Stockton Arena in Stockton) and their ECHL team (the Spirit Center in Kansas City).

General trends

Like the intended cultural and entertainment district in Calgary, Detroit’s Little Caesars Arena is the intended hub of a bunch of activity in downtown Detroit. I mean, the City of Detroit was bankrupt at the time they approved the plan, but it probably seemed like a good idea at the time. (Rossetti, the firm that did renderings for Calgary’s Event Centre Committee, also did some design work on Little Caesars.)

There’s not a heck of a lot built up around the building yet, but the arena itself is pretty nice.

If you’re a fan of the Saddledome’s sweet press gondola – disclosure: it’s one of the best views of the ice in the NHL – Little Caesars has upper loge seating that more or less replicates the ‘Dome’s press level seating. The lower bowl is a bit smaller than those we saw in Populous-designed buildings, but there are more smaller levels above the lower bowl.

Rogers Place is another arena from HOK/360. Like with Little Caesars, the area around Rogers Place is a work in progress and the arena has many, many levels. The building itself is pretty nice, though, and one of the few reasons to voluntarily visit Edmonton.