A proposal has been put forth to "Save the Igloo" as an important contribution to modern architecture. Arenas are very difficult buildings to re-purpose as other uses. No examples exist of an arena that was used as something other than a public assembly building.
The proposal is to raze 50 percent of the Civic Arena to "save it" by demolishing the seating bowl and gutting the interior, saving only the roof structure and concrete ring. Inside the arena and under the roof would be a hotel. This is not my definition of "saving the arena" and is certainly not historic preservation of a modern building.
I believe this proposal will make a joke of the Civic Arena. If the proponents of this proposal can find a developer and financing for this scheme, only then will it be worthy of consideration. The capital costs of this strange scheme make that scenario unlikely. It is better to demolish 100 percent of the building to remove an enormous obstruction and give the Hill District and the city maximum redevelopment flexibility.
Urban renewal in the 1950s destroyed the Lower Hill and isolated the Hill District, precipitating its decline. Demolition of the Civic Arena, a symbol of top-down planning and destruction of a neighborhood and its culture, will now make way for a rebirth of the Lower Hill as a new, vibrant, mixed-use district. Continued presence of the Civic Arena on prime redevelopment land has no place in the future of this area.
The writer's firm, Urban Design Associates. is an urban design consultant for the Penguins. His firm also designed Crawford Square, the Bedford Hope VI project and other projects in the Hill District.