Located in Minneapolis and home to the Minnesota Vikings NFL team, U.S. Bank Stadium is a multi-purpose venue known as “The People’s Stadium.” HKS designed the building to reflect the culture, climate and context of its city, drawing inspiration from ice formations on nearby St. Anthony’s Falls as well as Scandinavian design such as Viking longboats.
The stadium provides Minneapolis with a year-round venue for concerts, baseball, high school and college athletics, conventions, festivals and more, driving economic and real estate development in the city. U.S. Bank Stadium will host Super Bowl LII in 2018 and the NCAA Final Four in 2019. In recognition of its design excellence, the building won the 2017 World Architecture Festival award for completed projects in the sports category.
U.S. Bank Stadium connects to the city in both symbolic and literal ways. Two of its notable design innovations include The Legacy Gate, comprised of five, pivoting glass doors ranging from 75 to 95 feet tall, and the first ETFE roof in a U.S. stadium. When open, The Legacy Gate connects the stadium to its adjacent urban plaza. The translucent ETFE roof withstands the brutal weather of Minneapolis’ climate, while flooding the interior with natural daylight, creating the feeling of being outdoors without subjecting players or fans to the elements.
A Vernacular Design
Initially intended to be an open-air stadium, the cost of building an operable roof in Minnesota’s winter climate was prohibitively high, and usage would be limited by snow and ice. The first objective in designing the form of the building was to get snow off the roof of the stadium as quickly and simply as possible.
To reduce structural loads and minimize building costs, we analyzed traditional Nordic architecture, determining that a sloped roof would offer both cultural and structural precedent to the challenge of building in Minneapolis’ snowy climate. A single truss allows air to circulate through stadium in both winter and summer months in a way that is fundamentally new to this building type but closely connected to the way buildings have traditionally been built in northern climates.
In addition to its simplicity and cost-effectiveness, the sloped roof forms a lofted interior heat reservoir that stores solar heat and acts as a natural snow melt system. The building contains a system of vertical air risers that – in winter – draw warm air from the heat reservoir above and distribute it throughout the stadium and seating bowl below.
As an alternative to an operable roof, we proposed the first major use of ETFE roofing in North America. EFTE, a lightweight and transparent material, comprises the entire southern facet of the roof line. Light coming through the ETFE roof substantially reduces the need for daytime artificial lighting, and offers a clear connection to the outdoor environment.
Overall, the roof design removed the need for 2,000 tons of structural steel, solved the snow control problems, provided a connection to the outside environment and the city, reduced heating and cooling costs, and provides natural lighting. In conjunction with the Legacy Gate, U.S. Bank Stadium blurs the line between an indoor and outdoor stadium and provides patrons with the best of both worlds.
The Fan Experience
With seats just 41 feet from the sidelines, Vikings fans are as close to the action as any stadium in the NFL. There are 131 suites of seven distinct types, including 23 Turf Suites located directly on the field. Six clubs are available for private events, like corporate meetings, galas, proms and weddings.
One of the stadium’s clubs – Mystic Lake’s Club Purple – offers two unique features targeting millennial audiences. The first is an exterior rooftop area with sweeping views of the Minneapolis skyline, and the second is a seating area in the stadium bowl with the look and feel of a rooftop bar, replete with couches and table service.
The stadium’s seven levels, including two general admission concourses with 360-degree circulation, offer various views into the bowl. Two of the largest and highest-quality high-definition video boards in the NFL are located 12 feet above the concourse, helping fans feel connected to the stadium’s impressive suite of technology. Designed as a part of the overall experience, people walk under and around the video boards.
High school baseball, a community pastime in Minneapolis, was often played in the Metrodome. U.S. Bank Stadium now carries that mantle, with an entire section of seating capable of retracting into the stadium, creating space for right field.
U.S. Bank Stadium has only 200 parking spaces, allocated to players. The public accesses the stadium from public transportation or existing city parking. The city has 32,000 parking spaces within a 20-minute walk of the stadium. Located in the heart of downtown Minneapolis, the stadium is also connected to the city’s intricate network of pedestrian skyways and the Metro Transit system.
Minneapolis’ average winter temperature is 23.7 degrees Fahrenheit, and heating costs typically comprise a little more than half of the region’s energy usage. Managing heating costs was a design priority. Compared to the much smaller Metrodome, energy usage is reduced by 16 percent through heat recovery, air handling units, ventilation and high-efficiency motors.
LED lighting – the first of its kind in a new NFL stadium – can adjust color temperatures and turn off and on quickly to allow for unique pregame and halftime entertainment and an enhanced viewing experience. Energy usage by lighting was reduced by 26 percent due to the installation of LED sports lighting. These successes helped U.S. Bank Stadium achieve LEED-Gold certification.