Architecture, Connected Cities, Seattle, Sports

On September 15 the NFL Seattle Seahawks will host the San Francisco Forty-Niners in a nationally televised game and one of the most anticipated match-ups of the 2013 season. The Niners anticipate a roar of crowd noise so deafening that they may not be able to hear one another when standing a few yards apart on the field. The Seahawks’s Centurylink Field is known in the NFL as the toughest place for travelling teams, and the Seattle Fans are known as the Hawks’s “twelfth man.” A Seattle fan group, Volume 12, has organized an attempt on Sunday to best the Guinness World Record for crowd noise while helping their team beat last year’s NFC champion.

Paul Griesemer, an architect with AECOM, has worked on numerous NFL stadiums and sporting venues, including the redevelopment of Lambeau Field and the post-Katrina renovation of the Superdome in New Orleans. He reflects on the key home-field advantage elements created by the AECOM team that designed Centurylink. “Having the most compressed footprint of any NFL stadium concentrates fan noise. The partial roof shades 70 percent of spectators and reflects noise back onto the field. The steel stands of the ‘Hawks nest,’ the stadium’s signature seating bowl element, amplify foot-stomping.”

Over a ten-year period, ESPN reported that opposing teams in Seattle had the most false-start penalties of any open-air stadium. Noise levels from the stadium have been recorded by seismographs at comparable levels to a mini-earthquake.

“Beyond creating a home-field advantage, the stadium was designed to be a connected part of the city and urban fabric,” said Griesemer. “For instance, the bowl design creates a sight corridor to downtown, one of many aspects that make the stadium central to Seattle and that contribute to an exceptional fan experience.”


Jake Herson ( is managing editor of the Connected Cities blog.

Originally published Sep 11, 2013

Author: Jacob Herson