Designer Forum —
Residential design specialist
creates a unique
sports arena.


INTERVIEW BY BRIAN HAMILTON

       Custom flooring was the major design element for Lisa Slayman as she worked on what has turned out to be one of the top sports venues in the country, the Glendale Arena, home of the National Hockey League’s Phoenix Coyotes. Slayman wanted to make the 800,000 square foot complex feel more like a home then a public building, unlike other sports arenas that she visited while preparing for the project.
       “One of the prominent floorcovering materials I used throughout was carpeting,Ó Slayman says. žIt was important in my mind that I would design an interior that had a warm and residential feel, and that the types of finishes I selected were not only durable and easy to maintain but included a lot of texture and warmth so it didn’t end up looking like any other institutional space.”
       Designing the $220 million arena, wasn’t the sort of job that Slayman normally pursues. Although she had worked on hotels,restraurants, and country clubs, the latter while designing for legendary golfer Jack Nicklaus’ organization, her primary focus is designing high end homes. It was, in fact, her work on the home of the team owner at the time that landed her the arena project. Although she designed the arena s a sports venue, it has also become a top concert facility, and it’s used for other kinds of shows. In 2005, Venues Today Magazine ranted it numner 18 on its list of Top Selling Arenas in the World. And in 2004, Pollstar named it Best New Concert Venue in North America.
       Slayman believes that her professional focus on mansions let her approach the project with a different perspective from someone who specializes in arenas. “I was able to five it a whole different spin and it was very successful,” Slayman says. “I was going to tackle it differently than a firm that specializes in sports arenas. I wasn’t locked into a formula. I finished a 30,000 square foot house here in California that in my mind set me up for this project.”
       Slayman had to proceed quickly. The building was already under construction when she was brought into the project, so she had to find suppliers who could turn samples and product around quickly. The owner was not interested in LEED certification.
       Every bit of flooring in the arena had to be extraordinarily durable to handle the intense foot taffic and other challenges posed by a sports crowd during a 41 — game home season, along with preseason and potential post season games, as well as the occasional concert crowd. In addition, the flooring had to be fairly low maintenance. Slayman says that so far the carpet has held up well.
       “The team wanted the arena to be branded everywhere with team flavor and colors, which were burgundy and sand with a slittle black, and burgundy became the dominant color throughout. Since the team had just come out with a brand new color and logo scheme, it became clear to me that I had to have everything custom colored and designed. With this in mind, I started with the carpeting, since it was such a strong element in the equation.” Also, the nondescript walls and ceiling didn’t offer much chance for design creativity, and the corridors didn’t contain any furniture or other typical design elements. Nevertheless, the interior “had to scream” Phoenix Coyotes, and hockey, down to the details, such as the carpet patterned like hockey pucks that was used in the team store.
       And she used a lot of carpet, about 18,000 square yards of nylon broadloom—no carpet tile whatsoever—all of it custom, either in color or pattern, or both, and most of it manufactured by Atlas. Because of the volume of carpet in the project, and the fact that it all used the same yarn and required few setup charges, slayman was able to cut a lot of cost yet accomplish her goals.
       The entire arena, but especially the corporate suites, owner’s suite, the press box, and the corridors that lead to them all have the feel of being part of a big living room. The suites, which are often enclosed in the other arenas to give the feeling of exslusivity, instead open up to the ice.
       “The carpet design I cameup with for the suite level common areas needed to compliment the architecture and Arizona surroundings,” Slayman says. “It was a nylon loop, non directional angular pattern that had a (Frank Lloyd) wrightian flavor and was custom colored in the Coyotes team colors. The design was predicated on the fact that these common areas were all open corridors with strong architectural elements ane it needed to have a strong pattern to hide major traffic and soiling issues.” The pattern also had to work well with corridors that curved.
       The carpet for the suites didn’t need to be as dominating as the corridors, so she created a small grid pattern, also featuring team colors.
       The press level corridor also featured carpet with a geometric design, but it was entirely different from the suite level design.
       Carpet was also used to good effect in the private 12,000 square foot restaurant for season ticket holders, which also opens to the ice and picks up the exterior design. Slayman found I her research that restaurants in other areans typically used hard surface flooring, so this was a departure from the norm. The carpet features a deco-style pattern in a tufted textured loop, manufactured by Milliken, that served as the starting point for the restaurant design. From there she choose fabrics, wood, and glass to complement the carpet. The pattern also had the added benefit of helping hide any wear and tear, as well as spilled food and drink, and it added physical warmth for the diners. It also contrasted nicely with a black granite walkway that was incorporated along the edge of the restaurant to meet requirements of the American Disabilities Act.
       “By utilizing the carpet as a key link that synchronizes all the details and finishes, I was able to produce the feelings of warmth, tranquility and integrity that are seldom found in such a public space.” Slayman says.
       For the main concours, the area with the heaviest traffic she selected low maintenance terrazzo. Ceramic tile was an option that was rejected because she didn’t want all the grout lines. In addition, terrazzo offered a lot of artistic options.
       “I decided to do a random large scale geometric pattern in four different colors,” Slayman says. “I also had the opportunity to work with the terrazzo company and mix my own palette of terrazzo to customize each color in variations of the Coyotes team colors. Each large scale geometric shape was broken up with a white alloy zinc divider strip that outlined them. The divider strip can act as a control joint, transition between colors, and termination to adjacent flooring finishes. Also, this allowed intricate Coyote logo artwork in the main entrance floor.”
       For the upper concourse, she used a sand colored Armstrong luxury vinyl tile rather then terrazzo, primarily because of weight considerstions.
       Two other areas also featured an interesting use of flooring. The Ice Lounge, a bar at the ice level for season ticket holders features an Amtico vinyl tile that mimics stainless steel tile which works well with the other metallic elements, such as the furniture. She also used Amtico vinyl rather than real maple flooring in the team store.
       Slayman also had to deal with 244 women’s restrooms, 188 men’s restrooms, and eight family restrooms. She chose a 12” glazed ceramic tile in several versions of the team colors, a product she had manufactured overseas. The men’s restrooms used a different color palette than the women’s rooms to keep them distinct. And they were both different from the family restrooms.
       “The ability to work with several different floorcovering suppliers and create custom products that add enhanced visual interest along with practical application was one of the key elements that made this arena so successful in accomplishing my goals.” Slayman says. “There was limited opportunity to create interest, dimensions and texture, so that’s why the floorcoverings played such a valuable role in its success.”




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