Domus

Temporary City

Nomadic modes of entertainm­ent A ten-day spectacle, a ten-year opportunit­y Methods of boosting economic developmen­t Traces of the ephemeral in the urban fabric

- Text, research and infographi­cs by Stefano Andreani, Joanna-Maria Helinurm

Super Bowl LIII

Atlanta, GA, USA

For the American football final, an ephemeral city works its way into the urban fabric, offering its inhabitant­s a unique opportunit­y

Each year more than 110 million people gather in crowded bars or sit on comfortabl­e sofas to enjoy what is by far the most-watched broadcast event in America — the Super Bowl. Across the US, major cities compete to host the NFL final and in 2019 Atlanta is home of Super Bowl LIII. This time the Big Game got even bigger, launching the commemorat­ions for the 100th season of the National Football League. The 53rd edition is not the first one for the capital of Georgia though. People still remember the year 2000’s competitio­n due to the unusual ice storms that froze the city and a spectacula­r tackle during the last few seconds of the game — the One Yard Short. Back then, the Super Bowl used to be a one-day show about the Sunday’s final with just a few side events. Over the years, it has evolved into a much larger and more complex ten-day urban festival.

During the weeks preceding the game, the host city typically transforms its appearance and disrupts its everyday dynamics. An ephemeral “city” gets built within the permanent urban fabric, with temporary structures popping up both in the area surroundin­g the stadium and in the downtown streets. As expected, broadcast booths then accommodat­e a myriad of networks and provisiona­l infrastruc­tures support the demanding operations for the Super Bowl.

Global attention and the significan­t influx of fans into town also present a fertile ground for collateral entertaini­ng activities. Exhibition­s and music performanc­es are in fact the main attraction­s during the nine days leading up to the competitio­n. When the largest footballth­emed developmen­ts are the NFL Tailgate, Super Bowl Live and SB Experience, the most elaborate constructi­on for a concert experience revolves around the DirecTV Super Saturday Night, a live show that in the past has featured artists such as Bruno Mars, Jay-Z and Beyoncé, Pharrell Williams and the Red Hot Chili Peppers.

Over the years, both the size and complexity of this concert venue have grown exponentia­lly, reflecting the evolving trend of the Super Bowl. It started off in 2010 as an outdoor celebrity football game on the beach of Miami that culminated with a small music performanc­e. Since then the “beach” was trucked to various other cities. In 2014 the operation involved one million pounds of sand brought in through a snowstorm in New York City. Beach Bowl during the day, the two-level tent space was converted within six hours into a nightclub for the evening. In Phoenix the programme expanded into a three-day music and food festival that took over a 42-acre field to accommodat­e four stages. As the programme expanded so did the ambitions of the venue, forcing to change up the design approach from purely reconfigur­ing a temporary steel tent. For the 2016 Super Bowl in San Francisco, a 100-year-old former warship factory was converted into a three-level, dualstage venue that weaved its steel and timber structure into the existing framework. A similar approach was employed for Minneapoli­s, where last year an old armory was renovated to host a concert series on the SB weekend. The place now operates as a permanent cultural venue. This time in Atlanta the DirecTV event took place in the Atlantic Station neighbourh­ood, a couple of miles from the Mercedes-Benz Stadium – the innovative retractabl­e-roof arena where the February 3rd final was played. The centrepiec­e is a three-level hybrid and custom steel structure with a capacity of 10,000 people and over 100,000 square-feet large, half the size of a typical indoor concert venue such as Madison Square Garden in New York or the Pala Alpitour in Turin. The venue was conceptual­ised by executive producer Jack Murphy, the creative mind of large-scale Super Bowl shows for almost three decades.Behind the scenes of this “nomadic” entertainm­ent experience, there is a year-long rigorous design and managing process. Tight contextual constraint­s and time pressure force the phases of the design and constructi­on to merge into a chain of immediate decisions, often going straight from the 3D model into the fabricator’s hands for instant production. Reusable materials as well as the trusses, steel and timber are trucked in from Las Vegas. Yet the majority of the labour and resources are assembled locally to build this massive structure over a period of just 45 days. By combining experiment­al spatial exploratio­ns with cutting-edge technologi­cal solutions, the project expands beyond musical performanc­es, incorporat­ing augmented and virtual reality as well as interactiv­e video walls and hologram displays. In Atlanta a sequential setup has been designed that explores a diversifie­d user engagement, from both a visual and acoustic point of view. The exterior of the structure is animated with double-sided projection mapping that unfolds over the main entrance, pinpointin­g the event as a temporary landmark in the city. But if on the one hand the Super Bowl is a ten-day spectacle for the more than one million visitors that take over Atlanta, on the other hand it is a ten-year opportunit­y for its residents. As for any city hosting such an impactful event, the Big Game is in fact a rare occasion for boosting economic developmen­t, improving transport infrastruc­tures, and showing off to fellow Americans and to the whole world the cultural values of the local community. To that end, the Atlanta Super Bowl LIII Host Committee (the planning team that acts as the liaison between the NFL, the City of

Atlanta and the local community) last year launched an ambitious initiative to leverage the Super Bowl for a long-lasting positive repercussi­on on the city. Named Legacy 53, the programme is built on five pillars: sustainabi­lity, business connect, a capital improvemen­t project, youth engagement, and civil rights and social justice. The sustainabi­lity pillar is implemente­d through 11 urban forestry projects for planting over 20,000 trees, creating pollinator habitat and building community gardens in several neighbourh­oods. The business connect programme takes advantage of the economic impact of the Super Bowl to elevate over 200 local minority-, women- or LGBT-owned businesses for contractin­g opportunit­ies. The Capital Improvemen­t Project has instead resulted in a two-million-dollar renovation of the John F. Kennedy Park, near the stadium. The Youth Engagement programme then helps address food insecurity, physical inactivity and academic achievemen­t in metro Atlanta’s schools. Finally, Super Bowl LIII will leave a fresh physical trace in the urban context. Through the Off the Wall project, 11 American artists were selected to install 30 murals around downtown that speak about the city’s civil rights and social justice issues. The artworks were inspired by months of community conversati­ons which brought out unheard stories that needed to be told, as stated by arts group WonderRoot. For viewers walking by the murals, the experience is also digitally enhanced by hearing the mural’s narrative. This public art project will ultimately act as a constant reminder for Atlanta’s citizens and visitors to foster a more socially responsibl­e community in the years to come.

Stefano Andreani is a lecturer in Architectu­re at the Harvard University Graduate School of Design and a designer and consultant at the Invivia studio in Boston. In 2018, he co-edited for Domus the Innovation special issue. Joanna-Maria Helinurm is principal of the Laviku studio in New York, and the lead architectu­ral and interior designer and art director for the Super Bowl DirecTV event.

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 ??  ?? Ernest Shaw, Atlanta Strong (p. 105, 1)
Ernest Shaw, Atlanta Strong (p. 105, 1)
 ??  ?? Muhammad Yungai, Community Roots (p. 105, 5)
Muhammad Yungai, Community Roots (p. 105, 5)
 ??  ?? Yehimi Cambrón, Monuments: We Carry the Dreams (p. 105, 2)
Yehimi Cambrón, Monuments: We Carry the Dreams (p. 105, 2)
 ??  ?? Shanequa Gay, Excuse Me while I Kiss the Sky
Shanequa Gay, Excuse Me while I Kiss the Sky
 ??  ?? Yehimi Cambrón, Freedom Fighters (p. 105, 3)
Yehimi Cambrón, Freedom Fighters (p. 105, 3)
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 ??  ?? Page 104 and this page: murals from the Off the Wall project, curated by WonderRoot. Created in the centre of Atlanta by 11 American artists, the 30 works portray themes associated with civil rights and originated from an engagement with local communitie­s Opposite page: renderings of the stage-design project for the performanc­es and concerts of Super Bowl DirecTV, in a structure with a capacity of 10,000 people erected for the occasion, in the Atlantic Station area Charmaine Minniefiel­d, Visionary for Justice (p. 105, 10)
Page 104 and this page: murals from the Off the Wall project, curated by WonderRoot. Created in the centre of Atlanta by 11 American artists, the 30 works portray themes associated with civil rights and originated from an engagement with local communitie­s Opposite page: renderings of the stage-design project for the performanc­es and concerts of Super Bowl DirecTV, in a structure with a capacity of 10,000 people erected for the occasion, in the Atlantic Station area Charmaine Minniefiel­d, Visionary for Justice (p. 105, 10)
 ??  ?? Brandan “Bmike” Odums, Love & Protection (p. 105, 6)
Brandan “Bmike” Odums, Love & Protection (p. 105, 6)
 ??  ?? Brandan “Bmike” Odums, God is Love (p. 105, 7)
Brandan “Bmike” Odums, God is Love (p. 105, 7)
 ??  ?? The Loss Prevention, Beloved Community (p. 105, 9)
The Loss Prevention, Beloved Community (p. 105, 9)
 ??  ?? The Loss Prevention Arts Collective, Hero Series (p. 105, 8)
The Loss Prevention Arts Collective, Hero Series (p. 105, 8)
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