"A Cauldron of Energy"
It was nearly three years ago that I was first introduced to Everton's CEO Robert Elstone, Deputy CEO Denise Barrett-Baxendale and the club's extremely convivial Chairman, Bill Kenwright. I had never, in my entire career, met a client group more focused on their community or more caring of their fans. Their collective vision, to deliver a "football first" stadium that would be designed specifically for the generations of regular Everton fans, would ensure this project would be very different from the spectacular but often soulless corporate football palaces we have seen developed elsewhere in the U.K. Everton, well known for being an innovative club of "firsts" would once again innovate by looking to its history and build a new ground that would deliver the best of the energy and intimacy of Goodison within a state of the art football ground. I will always remember the words of Robert Elstone: "It should be a "cauldron of energy", with the steepest stands right on top of the pitch, and a massive home end!" From that moment, I was hooked. A few weeks later I saw my first game at Goodison, and I fell in love. Like all attractions, there is something magnetic or chemical about it that truly does make one feel like you are "chosen". I knew at that moment that it was different than any project I had ever pursued or any team I have ever followed...it was in my blood.
It has already been a long journey with some twists and turns. These are extremely complex projects with a plethora of complicated stakeholders, so while I know that fans are extremely eager to see renderings, we are being careful to ensure that what we show, is what we will deliver.
The arrival of Farhad Moshiri as an extremely engaged majority owner and the emergence of Bramley Moore Dock as the preferred site were monumental milestones in this journey. While the challenges of developing a stadium on a UNESCO World Heritage site are far from insignificant, the choice of Bramley Moore as the preferred site by the club was truly inspired, and further evidence of the commitment to the long term best interests of the team and the community.
I believe that the historic fabric of the dock is a priceless asset that will help inform a state of the art stadium unlike any other on the planet and one that will capture the magic and memory of Goodison Park. I am striving for a design that feels like it "grew from the Docks" and can simultaneously look like it is from the future and yet has always been there. Innovation doesn't always mean that a building has the latest bells and whistles, it can often be when a design is reduced to the very essence of its function. One of my favorite quotes is of the author Antoine de Saint-Exupéry:
"A designer knows he has achieved perfection not when there is nothing left to add, but when there is nothing left to take away"
THAT is our true challenge...
P.S. Someone recently tweeted to me that modern English stadiums are no longer intimate or intimidating...that they can't be because of modern regulations etc... to that person I say..."just wait, and see"...
We will be updating this page soon. Stop back often to see the progress of the project. I promise there will be renderings!
DAN MEIS, FAIA