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THE DIFFERENCES BETWEEN RENDERINGS AND REALITY

[October 27th] -- I remember the day as if it was yesterday. The Nationals announced that renderings for their new stadium would be introduced to the public on March 15th, 2005. I remember because I was due to take two tests that day at school and emailed both professors telling them that I was too *cough-cough* sick to make it to school. About 15 minutes before the press conference, I went to the Washington Post's website and began to hit the refresh button, over and over until David Nakamura's article, and the architect's renderings, appeared.

I didn't know what to expect. A month earlier, Nakamura wrote an article detailing expectations for the stadium. It was to be a "signature" park" with a design that eschewed the retro-look of Camden Yards and its clones (isn't it interesting that the term "cookie-cutter" which once described the spate of circular multi-purpose stadiums can now just as easily be used to describe all of the turn-of-the-century designs that dot the major league landscape?). "We do not want to see just another baseball stadium," said Allen Y. Lew, chief executive of the D.C. Sports and Entertainment Commission. "We want signature architecture. We're not looking to just mimic other cities." In its bid packets, the city government advised architects that they were seeking to "create architecture for Washington that is distinctive and of this time." What did that mean exactly? They never said, other than the complex was to be lower in height than traditional ballparks so as to not hide the vista views that Washington offers.

So I wasn't sure what to expect. When I first saw the renderings, I was happy, but not thrilled. The stadium was great to be sure, but I saw nothing that was particularly spectacular. My biggest concern has been the outside elevations of the stadium. I hope the real deal doesn't have that hodge-podge appearance of the drawings.

I went back and looked closely at the renderings for the first time in more than a year. After all, why bother when you have the real thing to look at. I was curious to see how different the stadium was from those first drawings. From the outfield perspective, things seem about the same save a few glaring differences.

Take a look at the scoreboard. The angle of the steel beams that holds both the "Nationals" name and clock isn't as sloping as it was in the drawings. The letters that make up the team's name was originally to be the same size, using the style of letters that appears on the front of the Potomac Nationals' jersey. The final product, however, uses the same letters that the Nationals' current uniform displays. The letters were to have begun straight and then sloped down towards the clock, but now the 'N' and 'S' begin and end on the same level. Everything else seems the same.

Personally, I liked what the architects envisioned more than what the team ended up with.

The other part that might be different is the huge red "W" above the grassy knoll in dead center. Looking at the construction camera images, I am having a hard time seeing how that it is going to work. Other than that, things are looking pretty close.

It's a great stadium, but it's nothing new and and doesn't redefine baseball architecture. The interior is wonderful but, like I said, I am not particularly enamoured with the exterior.

Still, it beats RFK all to heck.


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