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Additional Resources

Visit the Soldier Field website and its Facebook page; private and group tours are available.

Case Studies

Hoerr Schaudt Landscape Architects; Goettsch Partners; Carlos Zapata Studio; Lohan Associates; Turner; moreAEdesign; Wikipedia.

Video

May 26, 2020 3:34 video Soldier Field – Featured Project from Greenroofs.com on the greenroofsTV channel on YouTube; August 13, 2015 1:17 Soldier Field: 100 Years of History by Soldier Field on YouTube.

News

May 26, 2020 Featured Project: Soldier Field by Linda S. Velazquez on Greenroofs.com; June 30, 2015 Green Sports Alliance Summit Chicago, Day 1: Soldier Field, “A Stadium in a Park” by Lewis Blaustein in GreenSportsBlog; April 16, 2012 Soldier Field Becomes First North American NFL Stadium to Attain LEED Certification Soldier Field Press Release; 2012 Game Changer – Green Buidling Leaders, Soldier Field, home of the Chicago Bears in NRDC; January 20, 2006 Soldier Field Continues to Win Awards in American City & County; August, 2004 Soldier Field Renovation Praised for Design, Environmental Efforts in American City & County; May 2004 Soldier Field critiques (PDF) by Joeseph Giovannini and Stanley Tigerman on pp 14-121 in Architectural Record; September 30, 2003 ARCHITECTURE REVIEW; The Scrimmage of Old and New by Herbert Muschamp in The New York Times; April 14, 2003 Stadium Engineer Drives Toward ‘Paperless’ Project in ENR.

Dedicated to the men and women of the armed services, Soldier Field is located on famous Lake Shore Drive in Chicago. Currently home to the NFL’s Chicago Bears since 1971, it is the oldest football field in the U.S.

Originally Municipal Grant Park Stadium, it was designed by Holabird & Roche (Root) in 1919-1922 and opened on October 9, 1924. The name was changed to Soldier Field on November 11, 1925 as a memorial to U.S. soldiers who had died in combat. Its formal dedication as Soldier Field was held during the 29th annual playing of the Army–Navy Game.

Compared to other NFL facilities, the outdated stadium had inadequate seating, few amenities, primitive concessions and restrooms, and small suites; a complete renovation started in 2002. The revitalization of historic Soldier Field was part of the City of Chicago’s Lakefront Redevelopment Project to renovate the stadium and the surrounding area.

Famous for its historic concrete colonnades in Doric style, the exterior of the classically styled arena was preserved, with a controversial new modern glass and steel structure set inside. Complex radial geometry resulted in cantilevers being used extensively. The designers cantilevered the upper portion of the grandstand 40 feet out and over the west colonnade, resulting in an asymmetrical seating bowl for the new 62,200-seat stadium.

Soldier Field reopened on September 27, 2003 after the $382.5 million rebuild, the second in the stadium’s history. The 20-month renovation modernized the stadium and surrounding parkland for multi-purpose event use, and the Soldier Field venue is host to world class concerts, college football, international soccer and rugby along with many other timeless events. Citing removal of the building’s original architectural style, Soldier Field lost its National Historic Landmark status in 2006.

The first NFL Stadium to become LEED certified, on May 31, 2012 Soldier Field received LEED Certification for Existing Buildings (LEED-EB).

“Our goal in renovating Soldier Field, which reopened in 2003, was threefold. It was to create the best fan game-day experience in the NFL. It was to enhance the tribute to our war veterans. And it was to enhance and continue the greening of Chicago’s magnificent lakefront.” ~ Ted Phillips, president and chief executive officer of the Bears in NRDC

A joint venture of two firms redesigned the multi-award winning project: Goettsch Partners (formerly Lohan Caprile Goettsch), with primary responsibility for the master plan and North Burnham Park project; and Ben Wood, now Principal of Studio Shanghai and Carlos Zapata, now Principal of Carlos Zapata Studio, with primary responsibility for the architectural design of the Soldier Field stadium.

“For the team, improvements include natural turf heated from below and improved training and dressing rooms. For the fans, improvements include better sight lines, concession areas, and sky box suites and lounges.

In addition to rebuilding the stadium, 98 acres surrounding the stadium were redesigned, including 80 acres of parkland that place the stadium within the context of the adjacent museum campus. Park features include underground parking for 2,500 cars, a War Memorial Wall, sledding hill, children’s park, and improvements to the Police Memorial.” ~ Lohan Associates

Previously surrounded by 66 acres of paved parking, Soldier Field at North Burnham Park sits at grade over a parking garage, and is an overstructure greenroof. The renovation of Soldier Field was a key milestone in the development of greenroofs, and one of the first to utilize geofoam on such a large scale. The sculpted landforms conceal the 2,500 underground parking spaces.

“While previous generations of Chicago Bears fans trooped to Soldier Field through a vast sea of cars, our design sinks the stadium’s parking beneath a nine-acre green roof and uses sculpted landforms to surround Soldier Field with seventeen acres of parkland. The new green space includes a Children’s Garden, winter sledding hill – a place from which to take in the skyline – and connections to three adjacent cultural institutions.” ~ Hoerr Schaudt Landscape Architects

Designed by Schaudt Landscape Architecture (now Hoerr Schaudt Landscape Architects), the greenroof park covers the sloping parking garage and shade trees include maple, ash, and linden.

Among numerous other awards and recognitions, Soldier Field won the 2004 Green Roofs for Healthy Cities Awards of Excellence in the Intensive Industrial/Commercial category for the designers’ use of greenroof technology to create additional green space for the “Stadium in a Park.” Jeffrey L. Bruce & Company worked on the soil consulting, turf consulting, and greenroof consulting for Peter Schaudt’s office on the North Burnham Park renovation at Soldier Field.

SMG, Soldier Field’s stadium management company, strove to make the stadium one of the greenest stadiums in the world.

“As we enter a new era with a focus on a global community, it is the responsibility of the Soldier Field family and its patrons to decrease the impact of the stadium on its environment through reusing and recycling materials whenever possible. We are encouraging and facilitating participation by patrons in the stadium’s greening initiatives to take an active role in reducing its carbon footprint. Only by educating and offering opportunities for staff and patrons to participate while visiting the stadium and the museums can we make a more positive impact on our community and environment.” ~ Chicago Park District General Superintendent Mike Kelly in 2012 Press Release

Greening practices at Soldier Field are implemented everyday to ensure that that they are reducing their environmental impact. Soldier Field green practices include:

🌳 Reusing all soil and sod removed from the field and repurposing for landscaping projects.

🧼 Using green cleaning chemicals and reusing and refilling spray bottles and containers.

♻️ Recycling all cardboard, aluminum, plastic bottles, delivery pallets, office paper, ink cartridges, glass, light bulbs, batteries, lost cell phones and eye glasses.

💡 Replacing traditional lighting with LED lights.

⚡️ Providing free electric vehicle charging stations in the parking lots.

Known for its great sightlines and juxtaposition of timeless neo-classical and modern design, hundreds of thousands of visitors each year are hosted at Soldier Field.

“Chicago residents and visitors now enjoy year-round access to the historic colonnades, a new boulevard for improved vehicular circulation, underground parking, the expanded parkland, and a more cohesive and welcoming campus that connects to the adjacent Field Museum, Shedd Aquarium and Adler Planetarium.” ~ Carlos Zapata Studio

Soldier Field visitors can experience unique views of the Chicago skyline, Burnham Harbor, and the wide expanse of 17 acres of unique lakefront parkland, including the huge nine-acre public access greenroof park.

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