Marlins select artists for new ballpark
Grooms, Cruz-Diez, Arsham to develop signature features
This is part of an MLB.com/Marlins.com exclusive series with team president David Samson chronicling the progress and developments of the new retractable-roof stadium that is scheduled to open in 2012. Throughout the series, which will run weekly in the offseason, fans are encouraged to e-mail David at D.Samson@Marlins.com with their thoughts.
MIAMI -- Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria's vision has always been to turn the franchise's new ballpark into a work of art.
It promises to be so, as evident by developments that occurred this week for the retractable-roof stadium that is set to open in 2012.
Three renowned artists were selected to develop four pieces of artwork that will be signature features in the ballpark being built on the Orange Bowl grounds in the Little Havana section of Miami.
"Jeffrey's goal from Day 1 was to marry art and baseball," Marlins president David Samson said. "The decisions that have been made will un-mistakenly make this ballpark a museum of baseball."
For months, literally hundreds of artists from around the world have presented proposals to work on the 37,000-seat ballpark. The three selected to do four projects are Red Grooms, Carlos Cruz-Diez and Miami-raised Daniel Arsham.
Grooms is designing a spectacular signature home run feature that will be in the center-field area. Originally from Nashville, Tenn., Grooms now lives in New York. His display will incorporate water, lasers, sound effects and caricatures of Marlins.
Cruz-Diez, a native of Venezuela who lives in Paris, is designing the paving patterns on the walkways in the four-acre West Plaza, an area that will feature shops and restaurants that will be open year-round.
Arsham, meanwhile, is designing a sophisticated lighting system to illuminate the Super Columns, which are supporting the roof. He's also come up with a creative idea for a commemorative marker, recognizing the long history of the Orange Bowl in Miami.
"The lighting of Daniel Arsham is something you won't see in any other ballpark," Samson said. "It's something so spectacular, and it's to be enjoyed by everybody. The commemorative marker is on the East Plaza and it is accessible all the time."
Because the new ballpark is owned by Miami-Dade County, it is subjected to all requirements for new county buildings to include public art. In the case of the Marlins' stadium project, 1 1/2 percent of the capital costs (or $5.3 million) of the building is set aside for the arts.
The Art in Public Places division of the Miami-Dade County Department of Cultural Affairs has been working closely with the Marlins for months on selecting art projects.
Grooms' signature home run feature projects to quickly make a splash.
"When you're in that ballpark, and a Marlins' player hits a home run, the whole park is going to come alive with this feature," said Michael Spring, Director of the Miami-Dade Department of Cultural Affairs. "Lasers will go off. It's going to be fabulous.
"The team's whole idea was to have a home run feature in center/right-center field. They always intended for it to feature water, and it would go off when a home run is hit."
Grooms is designing an arcade-like structure that pops out of the water pool in arching stages, raising 40-60 feet. It will display caricatures of Marlins swimming back and forth.
Cruz-Diez's pavement design will be colorful and directional, meaning they will help navigate fans from the parking lots to the ballpark.
"Cruz-Diez proposed a paving pattern for the walkways that crisscross the plaza. His work is very geometric, and optical-illusionist kind of work," Spring said. "So the pattern that Cruz-Diez has proposed is very distinctive. It's a really wonderful, beautiful colorful treatment of the plaza. But at the same time, it has a practical purpose, as well."
Expanding the artwork to the Super Columns, Arsham has come up with a illusion that promises to have people wondering if they are seeing things.
"Daniel's idea was to light the columns in a way where the light gradually comes up and crawls up the columns, so the illusion from a distance is the columns will appear and disappear," Spring said. "In Daniel's words, it's almost as though the building is breathing, and the columns are appearing and disappearing with each and every inhale and exhale. It's very dramatic."
Arsham's second project hits close to home for the up-and-coming artist. As a child, he attended Miami Dolphins and University of Miami football games at the Orange Bowl. What stood out to him was the actual lettering of Orange Bowl on the building.
To commemorate the grounds, Arsham has decided to replicate the lettering on the former football stadium.
"His take was the letters fell off the side of the stadium, and embedded themselves on the east side of the plaza of the new ballpark," Spring said. "Essentially, you have full-scale letters, spelling Orange Bowl that are scattered across the eastern plaza of the building."
The letters actually are on the ground. Some are embedded in the staircases. The way they're stationed, the letters can spell out different words. They can spell ORANGE BOWL or GAME or WON, depending on where people are standing.
"Together, these three artists are good representatives of our community," Spring said. "What they've designed really enliven the ballpark and make it something that will be distinguished by both baseball and art."
Joe Frisaro is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.