Soccer fans this summer will get to watch six World Cup games played at a much-talked about stadium in Brazil designed by an architecture firm led by Marc Schulitz, an assistant professor in Cal Poly Pomona’s architecture department and his brother, Claas Schulitz.
The 48,747-seat Arena Fonte Nova in Salvador cost more than $250 million to build and is just the latest sports stadium completed by Schulitz’s family-owned, German-based company, Schulitz Architekten.
Schulitz and his firm also designed the HDI-Arena in Hanover, which was previously called the 2006 FIFA World Cup Arena, and the Lentpark ice and swim stadium in Cologne.
“I already feel the urge to build something again,” says Schulitz, a licensed architect in Germany.
Schulitz arrived at Cal Poly Pomona last fall and is teaching two architecture courses this spring.
“He is a very accomplished designer who is interested in technical, structural parts of design and can move back and forth between teaching material, technology and structures and teaching very high level design concepts and ideas,” says Sarah Lorenzen, chair of the architecture department.
“As a polytechnic, it is really ideal for us. That is really what we want,” Lorenzen says.
Starting June 13, when Spain and the Netherlands face off, Arena Fonte Nova will be exclusively used for soccer, but after the World Cup, it will also house concerts and events. The International Olympic Committee has also selected the stadium to host soccer games during the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio.
The stadium, which took four years from design to completion, opened in 2013, and has a U-shaped form that is similar to the stadiums in ancient Greece. This opening of the stadium provides for a view of a lake and city life in Salvador.
While the views of the lake will grab a lot of attention from fans in the stadium and spectators watching on television, the opening also helps air circulation and allows workers to quickly set up and remove equipment on a stage while other events are ongoing on the field.
The membrane roof incorporates a spoked wheel system and lacks beams, making it one of the lightest roofs on any sports stadium in the world.
“There is a compression ring on the outside and everything in there is in tension and by doing that you get rid of all of the heavy beams and material,” Schulitz said.
“There has been a lot of progress made structurally, engineering and architecturally on how to build the roof like this with minimum use of material.”
This roof’s structure also helps it meet functionality requirements. And its sustainable construction earned the stadium a LEED Silver certification.
Based in Brunswick, Germany, Schulitz Architekten was founded in Los Angeles and had been previously run by Schulitz’s father.
Schulitz Architekten, which works solely on stadiums and has a staff of about 15 architects, went up against several larger firms in an international competition in 2008 organized by the state of Bahia in Brazil for a contract to build Arena Fonte Nova.
After the June 13 match, Arena Fonte Nova will host matches between Germany and Portugal on June 16, Switzerland and France on June 20, as well as Bosnia-Herzegovina and Iran on June 25. Other matches outside of group play will take place in July.