The James B. Recchie Design Award is given in honor of the late James B. Recchie, a founding trustee, and awarded to projects that exemplify design excellence. The 2021 winner Lower.com Field is owned by Haslam Sports Group, J.W. & Whitney Johnson and Dr. Pete Edwards; and designed by HNTB, Inc. and MKSK.Lower.com Field is a soccer-specific stadium that serves as the home stadium of the Columbus Crew. The new stadium is located at the center of the mixed-use Astor Park development adjacent to the Arena District and downtown. The stadium seats 20,000 spectators and includes 30 suites and 1,900 club seats. Features also include 3,356 safe-standing seats in the Nordecke; a 220,000-square foot canopy that covers every seat in the stadium that is designed to keep noise in; a sunken field; a beer garden; the Crew House Pub; high-definition scoreboards; frictionless point of entry; and family space for children with two sensory rooms, two nurseries and a 1,000-square foot play room developed by COSI. The plaza at the southeast corner establishes the connection to the downtown area, while a new pedestrian bridge connects the area to the Olentangy bike path. The overall stadium was designed to reflect the city’s innovative spirit.
The three-member jury appreciated the design team’s attention to detail, including the public spaces outside the gates, as well as those for the most loyal fans. The integration of the site, connecting to the City via the Olentangy bike trail and a public plaza, was noted for creating community beyond those who are passionate about soccer.
“This project manages to have a ‘wow’ feeling as you enter the gates and experience the excitement of soccer, but it also has a strong public realm that can be enjoyed every day of the year without ever entering the facility,” said juror Michael Paplow, AIA.
The 2021 award jurors were Christie Angel, President and CEO, YWCA Columbus; Dorothee Imbert, Director of the Knowlton School of Architecture, Professor of Landscape Architecture, OSU; and Michael Paplow, AIA, Vice President and Principal, FMS Architects.
The four other finalists for this year’s award were Budd Dairy; the Mirror Lake District at OSU; Rise Brands HQ; and The Gravity Project. “The finalists represent the dynamic nature of the city’s built environment and the vision, tenacity and ability to be successful when faced with important opportunities,” said Nancy Recchie, sister of the award’s namesake.