Since Dodger Stadium was completed in 1962, at least twelve major league baseball stadiums have been built and torn down. In fact, it is currently the third-oldest such stadium on the county, behind Wrigley Field in Chicago and Fenway Park in Boston. Why Los Angeles’ ballpark remains beloved and intact is a good question—is it the location? The ownership history? Yes and yes, but don’t forget one more answer: the design.
Dodger Stadium’s Mid-Century Modern lines are as enchanting now as they were upon construction, when Los Angeles was positioning itself as the city of the future, full of modern dreams and pragmatic plans for making them come true.
Designed by Emil Praeger of Praeger-Kavanagh-Waterbury, Engineers-Architects in consultation with legendary Dodgers owner Walter O’Malley, the stadium was an ambitious structure from the beginning. To build it, workers excavated millions of cubic yards of dirt and then used it to fill in Chavez Ravine for the enormous parking lot. Construction was a predictably gargantuan proposition, involving the onsite casting and curing of over 25,000 concrete pieces for the grandstand.
The design plan was of an appropriately large scale as well: O’Malley envisioned the stadium as a Disneyland-like destination, with tram transportation, water features, a thick landscape of trees, and futuristic architecture. At least some of those ideas came to be, particularly in the form of Mid-Century Modern architectural details such as the folded metal roof over the center field pavilion, inverted canopies, abstractly shaped urns and topiaries at terraced entrances, and a color palette of early 1960s pastels. A rehabilitation project in 2013 restored the original hexagonal shape of the stadium’s outfield scoreboards. The survival of this Mid-Century Modern icon gives us all hope that it will remain intact for years to come.