A Whale-Shaped Arena for Hartford, CT

whale 6

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.

reverse purple

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?

whale 1

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.

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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.

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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.

blowhole 1

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.

green light

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.

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A Mid-Century Modern Goalie Chest & Arm Protector

mcm ca 1

Since goaltending began, the search for the ideal upper body protection for hockey goalies has been problematic.  Early padding was fashioned from leather, felt, and other protective and durable materials, but it wasn’t until the ’70s that goalies had the opportunity to wear modern nylon and foam padding.  Even then, the designs left a lot to be desired, with the body and arm components being separate, leaving gaps at the shoulders.  Of course, that is exactly the place the puck would find, to exert maximum pain on the poor goalie.

All of this was seemingly taken in stride; I guess it was considered manly to get bruises and to otherwise be tough and laugh at pain.  And considering the late adoption of the mask as a regular piece of equipment, I’m sure the upper body equipment goalies wore was considered more than adequate.

Still, I’ve written before on how surprised I am the sports world did not adopt modern materials and designs in the same way the rest of the world did.  Sports equipment and jerseys used standard materials and designs through the great eras of 20th century design.

  Which leads to today’s project, a one-piece mid-century modern goalie upper body protector.  Until recently, this piece of equipment was known as a chest and arm protector, or C&A for short.  These days I seem to see it referred to as a “chesty,” which seems to make sense – the other options are just too long.

mcm ca 2

I love mid-century modern design, so I made this unit from peach, turquoise, and grey canvas.  The interior padding is felt and polyester batting.  I embellished the unit with starburst designs, and the shoulder “floater” pieces are in my favourite boomerang shape.

A brief word on the floaters: I decided to make them asymmetrical, as this is one of my favourite features of ’50s design.  This seems to make sense as goalies aren’t symmetrical, and the different arm movements should require different padding for each side.  In this case, I made the trapper side smaller to reduce weight and resistance.

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I was able to find this fantastic vintage buckle that fit in perfectly with the design.  The straps are made from leather, canvas, and jute twine.

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Overall a really fun piece to make.  I really wonder if a modern unit like this could have existed in the ’50s, and if some equipment maker would have taken the step to make the design of the unit so modern.  Given that sports design seems to be conservative, and that the idea of design in general seems to go against the macho culture, it seems unlikely.  Having said that, if I was a goalie in the ’50s this is what I would have worn.  Although I probably would have gotten a mask first.

mcm locker room final