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World’s first net zero carbon arena opens in Seattle

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World’s first net zero carbon arena opens in Seattle

Populous designed the project.


By David Malone, Managing Editor | October 27, 2021
Climate Pledge Arena in Seattle
Photos courtesy Populous

Climate Pledge Arena, the world’s first net zero carbon arena, has recently opened to the public for the first time.

Populous designed the 740,000-sf arena with three main goals in mind: to create the most sustainable arena in the world, to revitalize a historic landmark, and to cultivate the ultimate fan experience. The project is the largest indoor venue in the region and will be the home of the NHL’s Seattle Kraken and the WNBA’s Seattle Storm.

The venue in the heart of Seattle Center harkens back to the original facility, which was built for the 1962 World’s Fair. The design was centered around revitalizing the landmark arena and honoring its original design intent while activating and enhancing the pedestrian-focused plan. The former arena was a flat-floor, column-free pavilion with an entirely glass façade allowing visitors to see inside. Populous’ design preserves many of these character-defining features.

The original historic roof designed by Paul Thiry was also preserved. The new construction required the 44-million-pound roof to be suspended above the site while the new arena was built underneath. A historic glass curtain wall was also preserved in the new arena’s north end, creating a view to the plaza. The outdoor plaza provides year-round open and green space within the Seattle Center campus surrounding Climate Pledge Arena. Sixty-seven London Plane trees that hold landmark status from the 1962 World’s Fair were preserved. The trees maintain a massive canopy on the site, aid in carbon capture, and connect the campus with surrounding neighborhoods.

In order to increase the size of the arena to 740,000-sf, about twice the size of the former venue, and give the venue 360-degree pedestrian access, it was necessary to dig 16 feet deeper than the previous 1995 renovation and significantly expand the below-grade building footprint in all directions.

Climate Pledge Arena indoor LED displays

The arena relies solely on renewable energy sources to power the facility, including on-site solar energy on the atrium roof. The facility was also designed to support water conservation systems, such as harvesting rainwater from the roof to create the greenest ice in the NHL. The project also includes the first dual suspended arena scoreboards. The distinctly-shaped video displays place content in an ideal location for spectators, improving the atmosphere and connection between fans on opposite sides of the seating bowl.

“The dual scoreboards are one of the many examples of innovation in fan experience incorporated into Climate Pledge Arena,” said Populous Principal Geoff Cheong, in a. release. “Our partners at Oak View Group wanted a world-class, iconic experience, and these unique displays will undoubtedly contribute to that. These are unexpected, incredibly dynamic and will allow fans to consume digital content in an entirely new way. They are the centerpieces to an entertainment experience unlike any other.”

Due to Amazon having naming rights to the arena, the company’s finger prints are all over the new venue. The facility includes grab-and-go and self-checkout markets and four innovative food and beverage environments featuring Amazon’s ‘Just Walk Out’ technology.

Each level of Climate Pledge Arena has a different color of wayfinding signage, which harkens to natural features as the levels go deeper underground. Colors change from the light blue on the top level to mimic the atmosphere, to a muted orange to reflect the earth on the main concourse level, to a dark gray for the lower level.

Additionally, the arena boasts 28,175 square feet of digital signage, the most in the world for a sports and entertainment venue. The immersive LED experience throughout the user journey displays wayfinding, events and partner promotion, and atmospheric imagery that is customizable for each event. The Climate Pledge brand is further strengthened through a 200-foot living wall with live plants and LED activations on the main concourse, creating social media-friendly content opportunities. Egress tunnels and other LED displays throughout the arena blur the lines between the structure and the outdoors with graphic imagery.

Climate Pledge Arena opened to the public on Oct. 22.

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