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November 2007 - stadium: the disposable city cathedral

presentation-discussion led by Rob Carter

When: Monday, 12th Nov ’07 @ 6:00pm
Where: Main Auditorium, Mint Museum of Art (Randolph Rd.)

Once upon a time, the focal point of a city was defined by a cathedral or other religious monument devised to bring people into one place to worship. Today, a corporate tower or two usually defines the average US city skyline, but the monument to mass community togetherness is often manifested in the form of a sports arena. A business franchise is at the heart of these multi-million dollar ventures, but the point for the city’s population is somewhere in between entertainment and worship.

As a focal point of a community no other structure demands more thought and planning, but their presence and design is increasingly temporary whilst the impact on the surroundings is more permanent.

How have we arrived at this point? Is there an ideal architectural solution for imposing this type of building on a community? Is the problem in the architectural design itself? To be blunt, why are American stadiums of the last 40 years so ugly?

Taking these buildings to be the new cathedral of a city, we will also consider the importance of ‘a leap of faith’. Sport, religion and art all attempt to woo their viewer/participant by various means, but fundamentally they all require a leap of faith to form a lasting interest. Contemporary art, sports and religion rarely like to rub shoulders with one another, but is this because people do not see the common ground, or are afraid of how much they share?

Join us on Nov 12th as we consider these questions and more.

Rob Carter is a British artist, currently based in Brooklyn. He is also an artist in residence at the McColl Center for Visual Arts . See more of his works at .

Leave a Comment

  1. An interesting presentation last night. Thanks for that.

    Rob Carter may want to consider a case study of one or more of these projects, and find out how long these projects take, how many people are involved ( with divergent interests), who makes the decisions, who chooses the architect, who funds the project, how much “community participation” is required, how the economics of these project work, etc.

    By Marley Carroll
  2. Did you discuss this…?
    In pre-Christian times (and now in post-Christian times) the stadium and the amphitheatre were the foci of a city, especially during the Roman times. if you take into account civilization and societies such as the Greeks where the temple compound was to be found on the highest ground. difficult to reach and only the priests or high religious officials could enter which was a significant difference with Christian architecture which allowed folks inside. Huge social shift. Greek temples were thus visual center but not common every day center, hard to get to, not allowed access and so forth. (Interesting to note that Christian church architecture was an adaptation of roman basilica – secular meeting space.)
    The Romans and Charlotteans are very similar; all about engineering and utility…

    By Mary Edith Alexander