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Design should have roots. It should be connected to the community and the people who work, live, and play there. Building a world-class sports complex on Native American land took those roots and connections to a deeper, more meaningful level. Incorporating sustainable design, local community and respect for ancient customs.
Designed to be an immersive baseball experience, Salt River Fields at Talking Stick has set the new standard for all training facilities in Major League Baseball. As the spring home of the Arizona Diamondbacks and Colorado Rockies, this complex allows unprecedented fan/player interaction while providing the latest amenities in training. Nestled in the Sonoran Desert ecosystem, Salt River Fields reinvents the spring training experience by providing a distinctive destination that focuses on fan connectivity to the players while creating a unique environment that embodies the character, values and culture of the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community, the Colorado Rockies and the Arizona Diamondbacks.
The Vision and The Design
With a design deeply rooted in ancient building and social customs, the façade of this Major League Baseball Spring Training complex – the first to be built on Native American land – is constructed of raw materials harvested from the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community soil. Also designed to be the first LEED-certified facility of its kind, Salt River Fields challenges the notions of what it means to be sustainable, and reveals a surprising kinship between ancestral custom and innovation in energy efficiency.
The 140-acre home of the Diamondbacks and Rockies not only showcases the beauty of the surrounding natural environment, but echoes the deep reverence for the delicate desert ecosystem felt by the local community. For the client, whose project goals emphasized environmental stewardship, the push for sustainability was motivated by something deeper and more personal than the potential cost savings of energy efficiency. Respect for the land is ingrained in their Native American heritage.
Ancient Native American building customs drive the design of the site’s structures. Located at the center of the site, the 11,000-seat stadium establishes the central courtyard, much like the region’s traditional Hohokam dwellings, from which all spaces and buildings evolve. The stadium was designed with the angles of the sun in mind to provide maximum shade. The monumental roofs that shade the stadium pay homage to traditional Native American ramadas and provide relief from the southwestern sun, while framing views of the surrounding natural landscape and culturally significant geological features such as Red Mountain, a sacred and symbolic landmark of the local community.
Radiating from this central courtyard, support buildings, practice fields and clubhouses form an overall cohesive complex. The wall of one space becomes the boundary of a field or the edge of a path. These walls are built from masonry consisting of raw material harvested from native land. The native colors, textures and materials are infused throughout the design of the facility, creating a harmony between the built environment and the surrounding landscape. The masonry is used to simply yet eloquently serve as a backdrop to the landscaping and playing fields. Inside the stadium, the detailing is carefully designed as “reveal” concessions and fan support amenities. Collectively, the walls, the openings and the pathways ultimately serve multiple purposes: to promote interaction of fans and players, to frame key views of the surrounding landscape and to encourage environmental awareness and stewardship.
A jewel in the Cactus League system, Salt River Fields is an extraordinary synthesis of the region’s cultural heritage and innovative design. The design successfully created a baseball destination environment that encourages unprecedented fan exposure to all aspects of spring training, evokes feelings of beauty and wonder and fosters a sense of overall community pride through sustainability and land stewardship.