Populous (company)

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Not to be confused with Populus Ltd.
Industry Architecture
Founded 1983
Number of locations
Kansas City (USA)
London, (UK)
Brisbane (Australia)
New York City, San Francisco, Denver, Boston, Knoxville, Norman, Pittsburgh (USA)
Sydney (Australia)
Singapore (Singapore)
New Delhi (India)
Beijing (China)
Area served
  • Sports, entertainment, events, conference and exhibition centre architecture
  • Interior design
  • Environmental Branding
  • Wayfinding
  • Events planning
  • Overlay
  • Masterplanning
  • Landscape Architecture
  • Sustainable design consulting
  • Facilities operations analysis
  • Aviation experience design
Website populous.com

Populous is a global architectural firm specializing in the design of sports facilities, arenas and convention centers, as well as the planning of major special events.

Populous formerly operated as HOK Sport Venue Event, which was part of the HOK Group. In January 2009, Populous was created through a management buyout, becoming independently owned and operated. It is reported to be one of the largest architecture firms in the world.[1][2][3]


Company development[edit]

Logo of the former HOK Sports

In 1983, HOK under Jerry Sincoff created a sports group (initially called the Sports Facilities Group and later changed to HOK Sport Venue Event). The firm initially consisted of eight architects in Kansas City, and grew to employ 185 people by 1996.[4]

On several projects, HOK Sport had teamed with international design practice LOBB Partnership, which maintained offices in London, England, and Brisbane, Australia. On HOK Sport's 15th anniversary in November 1998, the firm merged with LOBB. The new practice retained headquarters in all three cities.

The Kansas City, Missouri, office was first based in the city's Garment District in the Lucas Place office building.[5] In 2005, it moved into its headquarters at 300 Wyandotte in the River Market neighborhood in a new building it designed, on land developed as an urban renewal project through tax incentives from the city's Planned Industrial Expansion Authority. It was the first major company to relocate to the neighborhood in several decades.[6] In March 2009, HOK Sport Venue Event changed its name to Populous after a managers’ buyout by HOK Group.[5]

In October 2015, Populous relocated to its new headquarters at the newly renovated Board of Trade building at 4800 Main street near the Country Club Plaza in Kansas City.[7]

The company is one of several Kansas City-based sports design firms that trace their roots to Kivett and Myers which designed the Truman Sports Complex which was one of the first modern large single purpose sports stadiums (previously, stadiums were designed for multipurpose use). Other firms with sports design presence in Kansas City that trace their roots to Kivett include Ellerbe Becket Inc. and HNTB Corp.. 360 Architecture is also based in Kansas City.[8]

"Retro" era of baseball parks[edit]

The red brick facade of Camden Yards was designed by Populous to blend into the surrounding neighborhood of downtown Baltimore, especially the nearby B&O Warehouse.

Populous is credited for spearheading a new era of baseball park design in the 1990s, beginning with Oriole Park at Camden Yards.[9] At Camden Yards, and in other stadiums built by Populous soon thereafter like Coors Field and Progressive Field, the ballpark was designed to incorporate aesthetic elements of the city's history and older "classic ballparks." Camden Yards's red brick facade emulates the massive B&O Warehouse that dominates the right field view behind Eutaw Street,[10] whereas Progressive Field's glass and steel exterior "call to mind the drawbridges and train trestles that crisscross the nearby Cuyahoga River."[11] Starting with the Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati in 2003, a number of Populous Sport's stadiums featured more contemporary and even futuristic designs. Subsequent stadium exteriors featuring this motif opened in Washington and Minnesota.[9]

In addition to moving away from the concrete exteriors of the "cookie-cutter" multi-purpose stadiums that preceded the new parks, Populous incorporated other innovative touches: natural grass playing surfaces (instead of artificial turf), asymmetrical field dimensions, various park-specific idiosyncrasies (like Tal's Hill), and less foul territory that would keep fans farther from the diamond.[12][13][14] And because the stadiums were designed for baseball instead of several sports, the sightlines were "uniformly excellent."[15]

Camden Yards was not only hugely popular with baseball fans. The success of a new ballpark in downtown Baltimore convinced many cities to invest public funds in their own new ballparks to help revitalize struggling urban neighborhoods.[14] From 1992 to 2012, HOK Sport/Populous were the lead architects on 14 Major League Baseball stadiums and helped renovate four existing stadiums.[16]


Populous's designs across Major League Baseball have become so prevalent that some critics have asserted that the distinctiveness that was originally found in early "retro" ballparks is impossible to maintain: "There are nearly 20 [new ballparks] around the league, [so] their heterogeneity has come to seem altogether homogenous." Whereas "classic" ballparks like Fenway Park were given strange dimensions simply because of the limitations provided by the plots of land on which the parks were built, new stadiums do not feature such restrictions. One sportswriter said the attempt to emulate the old parks in this way is "contrived."[15]

In addition, a number of commentators have criticized what they see as a tendency to cater new ballparks toward wealthier ticket buyers, such as with expanded use of luxury suites instead of cheaper, conventional seating.[15][17][18][19] Several writers have noted that upper deck seating at new ballparks may actually be farther away from the field than in the older parks, partly as a result of these new upper decks being pushed higher by rows of luxury suites.[20]

One writer in The New Yorker said it is "not quite right to credit or blame Populous" for trends in their new stadiums—as it is ultimately team owners that plan what they want in future stadiums—but they "certainly enabled" such changes.[21]


Headquarters of Populous, in Kansas City, Missouri

Sports projects[edit]









Football (Soccer)[edit]

Football (American)[edit]



Football (Australian)[edit]

General Purpose Arenas[edit]

Horse Racing[edit]

Ice hockey[edit]







Training Facilities[edit]

  • Pennsylvania State University Training Facility – University Park, Pennsylvania (1999)
  • GWS Giants Learning Life Centre, Sydney, Australia (2013)
  • Texas A&M Bright Football Complex, College Station, USA (2015)
  • Brisbane Broncos Training, Administration and Community Facility, Brisbane, Australia (2017)

Venue projects[edit]

Convention and Civic centers[edit]

Event projects[edit]


Commonwealth Games[edit]

National Football League[edit]

(selected events)

Major League Baseball[edit]

Major League Baseball All-Star Game

  • 1993 – Baltimore, Maryland
  • 1997 – Cleveland, Ohio
  • 1998 – Denver, Colorado
  • 1999 – Boston, Massachusetts
  • 2000 – Atlanta, Georgia
  • 2001 – Seattle, Washington
  • 2002 – Milwaukee, Wisconsin
  • 2003 – Chicago, Illinois
  • 2004 – Houston, Texas
  • 2005 – Detroit, Michigan
  • 2006 – Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
  • 2007 – San Francisco, California
  • 2009 – St. Louis, Missouri
  • 2013 – Queens, New York City, New York
  • 2014 – Minneapolis, Minnesota

Association Football events[edit]

(Selected Events)

Other events[edit]

(Selected Events)


  1. ^ Kevin Collison, "HOK Sport Venue now stands alone", The Kansas City Star, January 5, 2009.[dead link]
  2. ^ "POPULOUS – Drawing People Together". POPULOUS. Retrieved 2016-06-11. 
  3. ^ Kevin Collison, "Sports architecture firm changes name", The Kansas City Star, March 31, 2009 (access date March 31, 2009).
  4. ^ "History of HOK Group, Inc. – FundingUniverse". www.fundinguniverse.com. Retrieved 2016-06-11. 
  5. ^ a b "HOK Sport Venue Event changes name to Populous – Kansas City Business Journal". Kansas City Business Journal. Retrieved 2016-06-11. 
  6. ^ Martin, David (February 1, 2007). "Thanks. Now Scram – An $8 million "public" parking garage in the River Market looks awfully private.". www.pitch.com. Archived from the original on July 15, 2011. Retrieved 2016-06-10. 
  7. ^ "Populous will move from River Market to Plaza area – Kansas City Business Journal". Kansas City Business Journal. Retrieved 2016-06-11. 
  8. ^ "New game plan". Kansas City Business Journal. Retrieved 2016-06-11. 
  9. ^ a b Byrnes, Mark (March 30, 2012). "Is the Retro Ballpark Movement Officially Over?". The Atlantic. Retrieved November 12, 2013. 
  10. ^ Santelli, Robert; Santelli, Jenna (2010). The Baseball Fan's Bucket List: 162 Things You Must Do, See, Get, and Experience Before You Die. Running Press. p. 73. ISBN 9780762440313. Retrieved 12 November 2013. 
  11. ^ Mock, Joe (June 18, 2013). "Indians' Progressive Field sustains splendor". USA Today. Retrieved November 12, 2013. 
  12. ^ "OriolePark.com: History". Baltimore Orioles. Retrieved 2016-06-11. 
  13. ^ Ward, Geoffrey C.; Ken Burns. "Fields and Dreams". PBS. Retrieved November 12, 2013. 
  14. ^ a b Rosensweig, Daniel (2005). Retro Ball Parks: Instant History, Baseball, and the New American City. Univ. of Tennessee Press. ISBN 9781572333512. Retrieved 12 November 2013. 
  15. ^ a b c Lamster, Mark (July 2009). "Play Ball". Metropolis Magazine. Retrieved November 12, 2013. 
  16. ^ "About the Architect". Miami Marlins. Retrieved 2016-06-11. 
  17. ^ DeMause, Neil; Cagan, Joanna (2008). Field of Schemes: How the Great Stadium Swindle Turns Public Money Into Private Profit. U of Nebraska Press. ISBN 9780803228481. Retrieved November 12, 2013. 
  18. ^ Lupica, Mike (May 23, 2011). "Subway Series: Only affordable aspect of Yankee Stadium experience is the 4 train fare". New York Daily News. Retrieved November 12, 2013. 
  19. ^ deMause, Neil (April 2, 2009). "New Yankee Stadium Opens Its Vast, Expensive Gates". The Village Voice. Retrieved November 12, 2013. 
  20. ^ Levin, Josh (Oct 7–13, 2005). "Rich Fan, Poor Fan". Washington City Paper. Retrieved November 12, 2013. 
  21. ^ "The End of the Retro Ballpark". The New Yorker. 2012-04-06. Retrieved 2016-06-11. 
  22. ^ Schlueb, Mark. "Architects, Dyer and Lions to brainstorm ideas for MLS stadium design". Orlando Sentinel. Retrieved 7 January 2014. 

External links[edit]