I recently made this architectural-style model for a concept of a whale-shaped hockey arena. I have always loved these kinds of models and always wanted to make one. I really like how, unlike other types of models, they really strip things down so you can just see the basics. I also like how the items of primary focus tend to stand out, while the background context often has more muted or natural colours to blend into the background.
The concept for this arena was my love for the old Hartford Whalers team. I know there are lots of other people who still love this team although it’s been defunct for a while. The team logo is a fantastic and enduring piece of design, and the green colour looked great. Plus, the name evokes a romantic notion of the past that is original and appealing.
Unfortunately, the return of the Whalers is unlikely. Still, I thought, if the team came back, they would probably need a new arena, and why not make it the coolest arena ever, an extension of the super-fun identity so many people still love?
To test the idea, I built a pseudo-architectural model based on other stadium models I have seen. It’s made from sheet plastic, cardboard, and wood. Trees are made from wire and model railroad foliage.
The idea for the arena is to have a non-retractable cable-supported roof based on the Olympic Stadium in Montreal. Hopefully all of the bugs from that structure have been worked out by now, because that was one problematic design. Nonetheless, it’s still one of my favourite sports venues based on its unique look. The cables in my version are suspended from a great whale’s tail tower, and the main part of the arena forms the whale’s body.
The pectoral fin provides a nice space for a restaurant/bar space, shown in an artist’s rendition below as The Blowhole Bar & Grill. OK, I scrawled that on a scrap of paper but you get the idea. I debated perhaps calling it The Pectoral Pub, but The Blowhole has more personality.
Most modern arenas and stadiums seem to have spectacular translucent panels that are backlit in team colours, so here we have it lit up at night in Whalers green.
A brief note on the photos: I generally don’t like retro filters, but my Dad was a structural engineer and I remember growing up with all of these architectural renderings in his office, and they all seemed to fade or look old, so it’s a look I associate with this type of project.
Will the NHL ever return to Hartford? Probably not, but if a team did return to the city, they could have an arena that aesthetically equals their logo, colours, and name.