The Arizona Cardinals Stadium, designed by architect Peter Eisenman and HOK Sport, was hailed by BusinessWeek magazine as one of the ten most impressive sporting structures in the world. Within this context, the creation of the interior design, environmental graphics and identity program (by Michael Gericke of Pentagram) was an amazing opportunity to redefine the NFL experience for fans and embed the stadium with celebratory moments. Encompassing the official team retail store, locker rooms, club lounges and the corporate suites (called lofts), as well as the owner’s private suite and team offices, the interiors program created a dynamic new home for a team that is the oldest continuously run professional football franchise in the nation.

Not only is the stadium unique in the league, but the team pushed us to question and reinvent every aspect of the design. For example, the lofts (suites is too mundane a description for these spaces) are a reaction to the typical wood and upholstery luxury box. Materials for the loft interiors were selected to reflect the honesty and lack of painted surfaces that characterize the stadium as a whole. In the lofts, the stadium finishes -- cement block, steel, and aluminum -- are supplemented with cork flooring, cast glass, enameled steel and Corian. The spaces were created to allow complete openness to the stadium bowl, while maintaining an elevated sense of privacy, luxury, and hipness. Rather than model the suites on corporate offices, the interiors are more like the coolest restaurant in town.

Enormously popular among Cardinals fans is the stadium’s team store that features a simulated playing field rendered in carpet and mirrored by the linear lighting fixtures above. Clothing racks topped by oversized jersey numbers are a bit like having the players scrambling on the field itself.

The playful attitude of the team store was extended to the owner’s private suite and the club lounges. Custom fabric was designed for the lounge furniture: an abstract variation on the play diagram, a language familiar to passionate fans. Elevating the level of the typical club lounge language encourages fans to think of themselves as more than the typical football fan; they think of themselves as insiders.

When the club had a less than stellar record, the lofts sold out very quickly; an event the owner attributes in large part to the lofts’ design. But we credit the stadium design for getting the Cardinals to the Superbowl just two years after it was built!