The new Louis Armstrong Stadium, which is now 95 percent structurally complete, will be the world's first naturally ventilated tennis stadium with a retractable roof.
Matt Rossetti, the chief architect behind the new stadium, has worked with the USTA for nearly a decade on various projects, highlighted by the five-year strategic transformation of the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center.
His firm, ROSSETTI, employed three main strategies when designing the $200 million stadium: (1) natural ventilation, (2) a premium viewer experience and (3) an operable roof solution.
“The unique nature and location for the new Louis Armstrong Stadium created an opportunity for us, because of the geometry, to have a new experience unlike anything on campus,” he said.
The layout of Armstrong, a simple, extruded rectangle, differs from the octagonal shape of Arthur Ashe Stadium, opening up a new set of architectural possibilities.
While we are still three months away from the first action inside, every indication is that the finished product will over-deliver on all three of Rossetti's focus points.
The natural ventilation is the most innovative and unique part of the new design and will enhance the outdoor feel in the stadium by eliminating the need for air conditioning, even with the roof closed.
Thousands of angled, 16-inch-long louvers – 14,250 to be exact – make up much of the north and south walls of the stadium, creating massive, open ends behind both baselines. These terra cotta louvers act like giant window blinds, pulling a natural breeze into the stadium but keeping rain and sunlight out.
In order to determine the ideal angle and positioning of the louvers, US Open officials studied the prevailing wind and rain patterns during previous tournaments.
Underground air chambers will add even more ventilation by drawing in and cooling air before pulling it through the lower courtside bowl.
Sparing no detail, the design also includes 15 industrial fans placed just outside the stands on the east and west sides of the stadium. Thanks to the innovative louver system, these fans will not be in use on a typical day, but in the event of extreme heat, they will be available to help further circulate the air inside.
In order to determine if these fans are needed, sensors will be installed at both bowl levels and on court to track the stadium's wet-bulb globe temperature (WBGT), a reading that takes into account standard temperature, humidity, wind and sunlight. The U.S. military often uses this as a means to determine thresholds of safe physical activity, and the Australian Open and US Open have also used this measurement in the past.
In terms of viewing experience, Rossetti and his team were focused on replicating but enhancing the feel of the old Louis Armstrong Stadium.
“We knew historically that folks loved the old Louis Armstrong,” he said, “because they felt like they were literally on top of the players, watching tennis.”
The two-bowl set up will provide an intimate fan experience at multiple levels. The lower bowl, which will have reserved seating for both a day and night session, will hold 6,600, while the general admission upper bowl will seat 7,400.
The roof, which will open and close in less than five minutes, will also contribute to the outdoor feel of the stadium. When open, it will provide over 38,000 square feet of exposure to the sky – equal to more than 18 singles tennis courts – while still shading at least 60 percent of the seats, depending on the time of day. When closed, it will act as an umbrella, shielding the court from the rain while still allowing airflow underneath.
At the conclusion of this major project, Rossetti sees Louis Armstrong Stadium as a reflection of the overall five-year transformation at the tennis center.
“The terra cotta, louvered wall system and the base of the building pays homage to the history of the design of the campus, as well as the main characteristic of Arthur Ashe Stadium,” he said, while "the modern design and the lighter color palette is more of a reflection of the future of the US Open."
It is a fitting juxtaposition, as the US Open is set to celebrate its 50th birthday this summer by honoring the past and looking forward to the future as the biggest tennis event in the world.
With the addition of the new Louis Armstrong Stadium, that future is in good hands.