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How to Make Use of an Old, Abandoned Stadium

Curators’ Corner

How to Make Use of an Old, Abandoned Stadium

It’s a beautiful thing when design and sustainability work in harmony. In what everyone else assumed to be unsalvageable, Indianapolis-based architect Michael Bricker saw an opportunity to reclaim the nostalgia of his city’s retired football stadium.

The RCA Dome was the home of the Indianapolis Colts NFL franchise for 24 seasons until the team relocated to Lucas Oil Stadium, dooming the dome for demolition. Bricker had just returned to his hometown after earning his master’s degree in architecture from UT Austin, and found himself marveling at the gigantic fabric roof as he frequently drove by the old stadium.

Designed in 1984 by David Geiger and Walter Bird, the Teflon-coated fiberglass that made up the dome weighed over 200 tons and was held up by the air pressure inside of the building. Intrigued by the thought of the material itself and what a similar structure would cost to build today, Bricker convinced the construction team to salvage 13 acres of the fabric dome. The big question then was what to do with it.

Bricker teamed up with Maryanne O’Malley and founded People for Urban Progress, stating “We were tired of complaining of our city – its struggling transit, wasteful practices, bad design and underused spaces. We created PUP to make the change we wanted to see in our city.”

PUP developed a line of wallets, messenger bags, and clutches from the reclaimed RCA Dome roof and used half of the profits from the first 1,000 units to fund another project. The RCA Dome was constructed with both public and private money, so Bricker thought it belonged to the community, and the PUPstop Program was born. Using reclaimed stadium seats and that same Teflon roof, PUP has constructed 45 sheltered bus stops throughout Indianapolis, doubling the number of seated bus stops in the city using a resource that was slated to go to a landfill.

Design and sustainability are not mutually exclusive and, in fact, pair quite nicely when matched with an innovative vision. Share with us your favorite sustainable products or story in the comments below!

Images © People for Urban Progress