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Drama at the US Open Can't Stop Courtside Design

The Michael Graves team
09/10/2018 By Kadie Yale

In preparation of the US Open’s 50th anniversary, the United States Tennis Association (USTA) revamped the centuries-old game by creating two new stadiums. Totaling $600 million, the new grounds feature retractable roofs, a garden, an outdoor space for warm ups and cool downs, and player-only spaces that cater to the fact that super stars are often on the road most of the year.

(Article first published 8/21/18)

To top off the new design, the USTA worked with Michael Graves Architecture & Design (MGA&D) to create new on-court seating, such as benches for the players and booths for the line officials. Taking into consideration the latest in technology needed by line officials, like tablets and microphones, the new seating was created in collaboration with Landscape Forms. 

Originally, it was thought that the players would be the main stakeholders, explained Ben Wintner, managing principal of Michael Graves Architecture & Design’s product design division. After initial research, however, the team realized that players rarely spent time on the bench. Instead, the usual canvas directors’ chairs were being utilized more often as equipment benches. 

The new players’ benches include one or two seats—depending on whether singles or doubles matches are occurring—of proliferated metal with surfaces for equipment storage. The ergonomics of the chair were tweaked by fractions of a degree using prototypes to create the perfect active seating that keeps athletes engaged for the few moments the seat is in use.

Made of similar metal and fabricated by Landscape Forms, the officials’ booths are meant to be out of sight, out of mind. The simplistic form allows officials to easily access technology while staying engaged with the game. 

Another important aspect of the designs was to accommodate all of the extra things that can create clutter in the court. To nix common ground clutter, an open cubby beneath the official’s seat allows them to stash personal and work-related items, and the bench between the athletes’ chairs is perfectly sized for the average bag. 

Similarly, equipment bins and towel hampers were installed around the perimeter of the court. Made of the same blue metal, they blend into the space while allowing the white sponsor logos to “pop” with increased legibility. 

Catch Michael Graves Architecture & Design and Landscape Forms’ contributions to tennis’ legacy when the US Open begins August 27, 2018.