New Dallas Cowboys stadium designer cites
former Texas A&M professors as influences


By Richard Nira

When the Dallas Cowboys begin the 2009 season, they’ll be playing in a new 2.3 million square-foot stadium designed by Texas A&M College of Architecture alumnus Bryan Trubey ’83 of the HKS Sports and Entertainment Group.

Cowboys Stadium promises to become one of the National Football League’s signature venues even in a league in which new, innovative, mammoth-sized buildings are the norm.

Trubey’s Cowboys Stadium design will be the site of many world architecture records—the largest domed structure, largest column-free room, largest retractable roof, largest clear-span structure, largest retractable end zone doors—in short, the stadium, which has already been named to host the Super Bowl in 2011, could fill many pages of "the first" or "the biggest".

The seeds of the new stadium’s design were planted many years earlier in the halls of the College of Architecture. Trubey said Department of Architecture professor Rodney Hill had a huge influence on him at A&M.

"Rodney opened my mind to how limitless creative ability can be in a young person," said Trubey. "He had a huge influence on me and anyone who was in his classes."

Without Hill’s guidance, Trubey said, "I would never have been able to be open to finding my own kind of personal artistic expression."

Two other College of Architecture professors at A&M at the time, the early 1980s, Thomas Colbert and Duane Coté, also had a big impact on Trubey. "The amount of maturing I did in their classes was phenomenal," he said.

Before working on colossal buildings such as Cowboys Stadium or Lucas Oil Stadium, which will be the home of the NFL’s Indianapolis Colts when it opens this fall, Trubey began his career doing residential architecture. "Although that was pleasing," he said, "I could tell it was not going to be fulfilling for me."

Trubey was born and raised in Dallas, but looked for work elsewhere after graduating from A&M. He began work at an architecture firm in Chicago, appreciating a place where "you can literally walk on the downtown streets and see the history of architecture in the late 19th and early 20th centuries."

After a time working for a firm in Kansas City that specialized in sports architecture, he planned to head to graduate school at the University of Pennsylvania before seizing an opportunity to work at HKS.

Since then, Trubey has led the design of a long list of sporting venues, such as Dell Diamond in Round Rock, home of the Round Rock Express baseball team, the Houston Astros’ Class AA affiliate. He created the park with the help of former Texas Ranger and Houston Astro legend Nolan Ryan and his son Reid.

It was named the best ballpark of a Class AA team in the country by Baseball America magazine in 2003 and was included in a list of great baseball destinations by ESPN.

Other sports venues of note that Trubey has designed since coming to HKS include American Airlines Center, home of the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks, and Pizza Hut Park in Frisco, home of the Major League Soccer team FC Dallas.

The Cowboys are one of the NFL’s flagship franchises — not just a football team, but a brand that’s known internationally. The challenge in designing the new stadium was to communicate the Cowboys’ standing as such while acknowledging the team’s storied past.

Trubey said HKS buried itself in research about the Dallas Cowboys to begin the project.

"Before we ever draw a line we do a ton of historical research into the team history and the team brand and do a thorough dissemination of what we call the ‘equity’ — what the team owns." This equity can range from a team’s notable games of the past, championships, team colors, or, in the case of the Dallas Cowboys, a hole.

"They talk about God watching us at Texas Stadium," said Cowboys player Terence Newman after a miracle finish that ended in a Dallas victory against the Detroit Lions last season, "but he was in Detroit today too, watching his Cowboys play."

Newman was referring to an oft-written and spoken-about part of Cowboys lore, the hole in the roof at Texas Stadium. Cowboys fans often say it was put there so God could watch the Cowboys play. The hole has been part of the Cowboys tradition since Texas Stadium’s debut as the team’s home in 1971.

Trubey said the Texas Stadium hole was an engineering decision more than an architectural one, that it was the easiest engineering solution to cover most of the stadium’s seats while leaving the field of play open. This was achieved by making a cutout of the roof that was the exact same shape as the wall in front of the front row of seats.

In its research, HKS found that the hole in the roof, along with the name Texas Stadium and the blue star logo, were the team’s three most valuable equity elements. The hole is part of the new stadium’s design, but now there’s a retractable roof to give the team the option of keeping out blazing September or chilly December weather.

"There were a number of things we wanted to be part of the design, regardless of which direction it went architecturally," said Trubey. "One of those things was the domed shape of the roof. We brought it forward and completely modernized it. The shape of the roof is a lot more elegant."

Trubey believes the new building carries on the Texas Stadium tradition with a new twist. "You really get, consciously or unconsciously, the same vocabulary from this building although the rest of it is totally different. It’s very sleek and modern." It’s a characteristic, Trubey said, of the very progressive, forward-looking image that other international brands often choose to create for themselves.

For architecture students, Trubey said that a passion for architecture is necessary for success in the field. "If you’re focused, and you’re very passionate about architecture and you love it, you should go with those feelings and those passions because it’s going to be a great profession for you and it will be very personally and professionally satisfying."

Professional architects live in a world more varied than most, he said.

"We have to deal with bankers, lawyers and accountants and still keep a foot in the artistic world. Our world is a lot more diverse than all but a very few other professions in terms of the type and quantity of people we deal with to get a building done."

Architects have to balance their artistic instincts with the wishes of their clients. "We can’t just be about personal expression," he said. "To be a really great architect, you have to interpret your own personal artistic direction into something that’s viable for whatever client you’re working for. That’s a key difference between us and the rest of the art world."

Dallas-based HKS, founded in 1939, is one of the top ten architectural/engineering firms in the United States. Its architects are regular participants in College of Architecture studios.

"I personally," said Trubey, "and our firm have an ongoing, open invitation to students at A&M to be a part of our firm."

- the end -


Texas A&M former student Brian Trubey talks at a special College of Architecture lecture about his design for the new Dallas Cowboy stadium.

photo by Blake Martin of Daryl Shields Photography Studio

The new stadium is a thorough modernizing of the Texas Stadium design. (photo by Blake Martin of Daryl Shields Photography Studio )

Giant, retractable end zone doors, outdoor video screens and the famed hole in the roof will be part of the completed stadium.

The new stadium’s seating capacity is expandable to 100,000 for major events, such as the Super Bowl the stadium will be hosting in 2011.

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