How do you get from luxury products to stadium architecture? Ask the team at Studio Massaud
Judy Fayard -- Interior Design, 10/1/2004 12:00:00 AM
A rendering of the grassy "volcano" enclosure and stretched-fabric "cloud" roof of the stadium at Mexico's Centro de Cultura, Convenciones y Negocios Jorge Vergara Cabrera, more commonly known as the JVC Center.
A glass perfume flacon for Cacharel. The stadium entry, halfway up the stands.
Hollywood, a prototype rocking chair in walnut and stainless steel, with a seat covered in leather.
The view from one of the stadium's 280 corporate suites.
Zaha Hadid had already signed up to design a hotel at vitamin-drink magnate Jorge Vergara's proposed $700 million cultural, convention, and business center in Guadalajara, Mexico. Daniel Libeskind was on board for a university building, Toyo Ito for a museum, Jean Nouvel for offices. So when Vergara bought the Chivas Rayadas soccer team and announced his intention to add a stadium to the project, most architectural observers would have put their money on a Santiago Calatrava or a Frank Gehry.
Jean-Marie Massaud and Daniel Pouzet, partners in Paris-based Studio Massaud, didn't even put themselves forward for the stadium job at the Centro de Cultura, Convenciones y Negocios Jorge Vergara Cabrera. Indeed, why would they? Massaud had built a career on fragrance bottles for Cacharel, vases for Baccarat, and seating for Magis and E+Y; Pouzet had worked on New York's Hudson hotel for Philippe Starck. Together, the two had completed a stylish spa in Nice, France, and environments for Sephora, Renault, and EMI Group; a series of Lancôme boutiques was in the pipeline.
Massaud and Pouzet had also scheduled a meeting with Vergara to discuss a hotel in Puerto Vallarta. But then his private jet was delayed en route, and the rest is history—they broke ground on the stadium last month, and completion is slated for 2006.
How did it all come together?
J-MM: Vergara's associate arrived in Paris alone. While the three of us were waiting, he mentioned the Guadalajara stadium, and we just started thinking out loud.
A soccer stadium can be beautiful, but what's the first thing you notice? The roof. So architects overemphasize it, even though it's really just coquetry. When the sun shines at a sharp angle, nobody gets shelter. When there's wind or rain, it's the same.
So we imagined the roof as a cloud floating above. Then we made the rest of the stadium disappear into a hollowed-out hill—or a volcano. That was good, because certain cultures have used volcanoes as temples. Also, parking can be hidden inside the volcano, so the outside of the stadium becomes a big park when there isn't a match, and mothers can bring children to picnic on the grassy slope.
Vergara's associate asked us, "Are you sure about all this?" We laughed and said, "Absolutely!"
Did you ever meet Vergara?
J-MM: Finally, we had lunch in Barcelona. He was charismatic, a visionary. We've rarely met anyone as sharp, who has such a broad vision.
What did you discuss?
J-MM: We explained our concept—and drew it on a scrap of paper. Then, three weeks later, we went to Mexico to discuss the Puerto Vallarta hotel—we thought. Instead, we found ourselves at a table with 20 people working on the Guadalajara master plan, and an engineer turned to us and asked, "How heavy is your stadium's roof? How many square meters is it?" I looked at Daniel, and he did a rapid calculation.
DP: It only took 10 minutes to envision the concept, but it's taken more than three years to work out the details.
Did anything important change?
J-MM: We originally conceived of the roof as a kind of balloon that could rise above the stadium and serve as a projection screen for light shows, video, and advertising, but that posed a number of timing and budget problems. Now it's fabric stretched over a frame. It's not adjustable, but it will still be a mirror for the energy coming from the stadium.
DP: And advertising will be projected on the roof, rather than on panels underneath the stands, so the team lounge, the gym, and offices will get a view of the field, through glass.
What about corporate suites?
J-MM: There will be 280, each with access to its own seats in the stands. Furnishings will basically be the same, but buyers will choose the colors.
Have you ever designed a stadium?
DP: Never. But we developed this one with HOK Sport + Venue + Event and HOK Mexico City, and that's their specialty. It's also interesting to be new to a project type. You bring a fresh eye.
Did you coordinate with the development's other architects?
J-MM: No, we work with Pepe Cortés, who's in charge of the master plan. The hardest thing in a project this complicated is directing harmony and energy flow. Badly done, it would look like architectural Disneyland.
And your other projects?
DP: We're doing an entire city block in New York, with apartments and town houses, plus a park in the center. We're also doing a house on Nantucket, where everything is shingled. Even the airport's control tower is shingled.
J-MM: Then we're designing a second-phase project in Guadalajara, two apartment towers. Vergara asked us to think vertical, but Mexicans have a close tie with the land, so there are lots of glass walls and big terraces that are really living rooms.
Even with the drawings, it's difficult to follow.
DP: These days, architects and engineers tend to feel you must be able to see how a building works. For us, it's the opposite—it's better if you can't understand how everything holds together. That's the magic.