Vanity Fair contributing editor and renowned architecture critic Goldberger (Building Art: The Life and Work of Frank Gehry, 2015, etc.) sets his gaze on the design of Major League Baseball stadiums.
The detail of the research, both its breadth and depth, is remarkable, and the author doesn’t limit himself to current stadiums; he also looks at some dating back to the 19th century. The volume also includes more than 150 illuminating photos scattered throughout the text. Though the narrative is not always cohesive—Goldberger jumps from one ballpark and city to another—each chapter carries a theme and subthemes as the author demonstrates trends in stadium design. He discusses the evolving designs in terms of the quality of the viewing experience for fans, and he evaluates how each stadium shapes the city around it—and is simultaneously shaped by the characteristics of that particular city. Goldberger’s touchstone is Camden Yards, the home of the Baltimore Orioles that opened in 1992. It’s clear that the author considers Camden Yards the most exciting stadium ever constructed, and in his opinion, since it was built, it has not been surpassed. In addition to discussing inanimate qualities such as the wood, steel, stone, and concrete of the edifices, Goldberger provides miniportraits of hundreds of men (and a few women) who have owned the baseball teams, influenced the politics of the cities where the stadiums sit, and designed the stadiums in both derivative and original ways. Goldberger is aware that he could have also included ballparks from the minor leagues across the United States, from the now defunct Negro League, and from baseball cultures outside North America. He explains that such inclusivity would have yielded an encyclopedia rather than a smooth narrative, so he set limits on the scope of the book, which is quite impressive in its current form.
A tour de force that will appeal to devoted baseball fans, architecture devotees, and even casual readers.