Since its inception, the goal for University of Phoenix Stadium was to set a new design standard for all sports facilities. Back in 1997, it was decided to explore the possibility of retaining an internationally-known high-design architect for the project. With the assistance of Michael Rushman, an expert in land use planning and real estate development who has been involved in many complex design projects, the team met with John Meunier, then Dean of ASU's College of Architecture and Environmental Design. Meunier helped prepare a list of more than a dozen candidates from around the world. Preliminary interviews uncovered one among that number who has been a life-long, passionate football fan and is considered one of the most influential architects of the 20th century - Peter Eisenman.
In order to test their belief that such a choice would result in a precedent-setting design, the team convened a 90-day design exercise involving two teams - one being a traditional sports architecture firm and the other a pairing of Eisenman with a second traditional sports architecture firm. When the conceptual designs were presented at the end of the exercise, it was clear that the team's faith in the potential of design had been rewarded. Eisenman's proposal was stunning - unlike anything already on the landscape.
The years that followed presented many challenges as the team worked to line up financing, shepherd necessary state legislation, and secure a site. All the while, Eisenman Architects continued to work on all aspects of the project - including site selection and, of course, the design of the building itself. The building design evolved as the program for the project evolved. To further assist with the design the team also retained the services of HOK Sport, the renowned sports architecture firm that has designed more NFL stadiums that any other. When the Glendale location was ultimately selected, the Cardinals again demonstrated their commitment to delivering a unique and world-class project when they directed Mr. Eisenman to start from scratch and come up with a new exterior design for the structure that would reflect the specific site conditions encountered in Glendale. Eisenman's final pass resulted in the scintillating silver metallic skin that envelopes the entire facility in a series of gentle curves. Even at the early stages of completion, motorists traveling the 101 freeway began to witness the building's promise.
The Cardinals were insistent on taking their commitment to excellent design beyond simply the building architecture and to the actual fan experience. To this end they have been working with Urban Earth Design, CMX Engineering and Eisenman Architects to develop a site plan that will do far more than simply provide a place for 14,000 vehicles to park. This plan complements the building's architecture and provides a raft of amenities for fans attending events at the facility as well as those who will live, work and shop in the nearby area.
To complete these efforts with respect to both the building and site, the Cardinals retained Pentagram - one of the world's leading graphic design firms for the past quarter century. Michael Gericke, Jim Biber and their talented team of designers are working on a package of environmental graphic design, wayfinding, and interior design features that will complement the building's architecture and provide that festival atmosphere that is so much a part of events like Cardinals home games, the Fiesta Bowl and Super Bowl.
By making their priorities clear from the outset and then by acting decisively and consistently the Cardinals assembled an unparalleled team of designers who delivered a project unlike anything seen before among U.S. sports venues. Michael Bidwill, who has served as the organization's point person on the project, and his father, Bill, took every step possible to ensure that the venue is not only a state-of-the-art facility for the Cardinals and their fans but a significant and enduring contribution to the ever-evolving urban landscape of the Valley of the Sun.