There are few sports that capture the imagination of a global audience. Tennis is played in most countries and by every generation, inspiring a wider audience through media and competitive tennis events. Of these competitions, there is none larger or more important than the US Open, the fourth, final and largest Grand Slam tennis event in the world.
In 2010, the other three Grand Slam tennis events were making investments in their infrastructure and fan experience. In order to maintain its top Grand Slam status, the USTA wished to make improvements throughout its 42-acre Billie Jean King National Tennis Center campus to increase open space, enhance fan experience and provide more diverse corporate partnership opportunities during the annual two-week US Open event. In addition, Louis Armstrong Stadium was aging, and circulation issues during the US Open were a concern. Rain delays and cancellations of critical matches continued to take place virtually every year, causing disruption for the players, fans, sponsors and broadcast partners.
To combat these challenges, the new Armstrong stadium was designed with the largest roof opening for the number two stadium among the Grand Slams. It is designed to be an open tennis experience that is also sheltered from rain. This is accomplished by north and south façades that are covered with terra cotta louvers, optimally positioned to keep rain off the court, yet porous to maintain natural ventilation. The terra cotta material contextually relates to the traditional brick buildings on the site while using the material in a new way.
As the first naturally ventilated tennis stadium with a retractable roof in the world, Armstrong was designed to consume 28% less energy and 42% less water through the use of waterless urinals and low-flow plumbing fixtures. The demolition of the original stadium saw 90% of that waste as well as new construction debris recycled. Landscaping around Armstrong stadium was designed to use 55% less water than traditional landscaping and more than 10% of the materials used in Armstrong’s construction were made from recycled materials. The stadium is located close to public transportation, encouraging fans to take mass transit and help to reduce the carbon footprint of personal vehicles as well as the use of low-emitting paints and finishes were used in Armstrong’s construction to reduce the emission of pollutants.
Within the USTA complex and its events, steps are also being taken to help reduce the carbon footprint through a variety of ways. These include the donation of metal lids from tennis ball cans used during the event to the Ronald McDonald House’s Pull Tab Collection Program. To mitigate the environmental impact that traditional straws play, a biodegradable and paper version replaced the plastic straws and stirrers at concessions and restaurants located throughout the US Open.
The re-envisioning of the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center and the Louis Armstrong Stadium not only combines bold, innovative design strokes, but it helped to create a place that will leave an environmental impact that generations of tennis enthusiasts can be proud of.