Design & Architecture
Spectrum Center was designed to reflect the community in which we live, work and play. Throughout the arena guests will find tributes to the Carolinas through artwork and unique displays.
Throughout its history, Charlotte has responded successfully to the changing demands and challenges facing American cities, and its achievements and growth over the last decades are a testament to its success. Exhibited in the heart of the city at Trade and Tryon streets, four sculptures represent Charlotte’s transformation through Transportation, Industry, Commerce, and the Future. This spirit of adaptability, combined with Charlotte’s outstanding support of the arts, has been integrated into the design of Spectrum Center.
A Celebration of Gathering
Inspired by the event, the city, and the fans, the arena’s design is a “celebration of gathering.” Open walkways, terraces and exposed staircases encourage conversation and exchange between arena guests in all areas of the building, providing connectivity of and creating community.
The forms and materials of the exterior design are assembled in a way that responds to the urban fabric as well as the communities past, present, and future. The steel and brick elements of the design are oriented to the urban fabric and represent the strength, stability, and foundation of Charlotte’s heritage, while the transparent and more fluid contemporary forms emerging from the base are a reflection of Charlotte’s eye on the future and the anticipation and excitement of the events yet to happen in the arena. The crescent “C” shape of the arena, which begins at the entry lobby sequence and sweeps around the seating bowl, is a symbolic gesture of the community embracing the event. Fans and visitors will find familiar reflections of the community illustrated through public art and unique displays, which pay tribute to the region’s rich sports and commercial history.
Interior organization of the building has been developed around the concept of streets and galleries. The streets function as transitional circulation paths connecting the galleries, which are the major food and entertainment zones for the complex. While passing along the “streets,” patrons will experience the rich colors and textures of Charlotte’s landscape. Large visual elements that represent modern “trees” line the arena’s concourse “streets” and create an arch overhead, providing canopies similar to the large trees lining Charlotte streets. A higher level of color and energy is presented in the food galleries, where sponsors of these spaces have created a unique experience for the visiting patron. As a destination point, the galleries pay tribute to Charlotte’s spirit of Transportation, Industry, Commerce, and Future, providing memorable points to keep the fans oriented in the facility.
Images of the Charlotte area are incorporated throughout the arena
A “Welcome to the Gateway to the Carolinas” sign above the box office features imagery in each letter that corresponds to larger artwork reflecting different destinations and industry in the Carolinas. Maps of North and South Carolina are featured high above each side of the main bowl entrance; etched glass listings of every city or town in each state with populations greater than 10,000 line the wall below the maps along this entrance.
The Spectrum Center scoreboard is the largest scoreboard in any indoor entertainment venue in the country and features the largest video screen in use in any NBA facility. With no fixed images, the scoreboard’s full-screen LED technology allows an unlimited configuration of live and recorded video, scores, animation and graphics.
A unique, three-dimensional backlit cityscape above the scoreboard features the Charlotte skyline and uses a 360-degree projection system that allows the skyline to change and feature graphics such as airplanes and fireworks and night-time or daytime skies. With no fixed images, the scoreboard’s full-screen LED technology allows an unlimited configuration of live and recorded video, scores, animation and graphics.
The scoreboard is 38-feet-high by 36-feet-wide, features four 16-foot-high by 28-foot-long LED video screens, and weighs 80,000 pounds.
In addition to the scoreboard, Spectrum Center features two ribbon fascia boards. The lower level: fascia display is three-feet-high by 945-feet-long and surrounds the circular perimeter of the lower seating bowl. The upper level fascia board consists of two 2.5-feet-high by 160-feet-wide fascia displays that run parallel to the basketball court sidelines.
The scoreboard was based upon an original concept from Barry Silberman, former arena COO and designed by Spurgeon Design Group, experts in lighting, video, sound, and sets for Broadway shows, themed venues, and Las Vegas theatrical extravaganzas. Most of the board, including the LED video portions, was manufactured by Daktronics, who has built scoreboards for some of the most recognizable sports facilities in the country.
Artwork is an important component of Spectrum Center. Wherever a guest may be in the building, they will see artwork and unique displays that visually illustrate the rich sports, industry and commerce history of the region. The Charlotte Hornets worked with the City of Charlotte and the Arts & Science Council to provide public art in the building as well as commissioned local artist Paul Rousso to help bring the arena to life.
The Arts & Science Council (ASC) Public Art program manages public art projects for Charlotte-Mecklenburg, viewing public art as integral to a community’s fabric for its potential to create livable cities, enhance neighborhood identity, strengthen economic development and tourism, educate children and adults and enrich the spirit and pride of its citizens. Made up of nine members appointed by the City of Charlotte, Mecklenburg County and the ASC, the commission selected five artists to create art for the public spaces of Spectrum Center.
Artwork Location: Mosaic Tile Photo Murals, Trade and Fifth Street Entrances
Artwork Description: To create a “wow” factor for people entering the arena lobby, two large walls were identified by the design team for artwork: the left wall as visitors enter from Trade Street and the wall above the Fifth Street entry. Photographer Mike Mandel focused on two themes: The History of Basketball in the Piedmont and the action of the game. Mandel conducted personal interviews and archival research both in Charlotte and around the region to learn about basketball history in North Carolina. Mandel then digitized and fabricated the archival and contemporary photos in 1-and-½-inch colored ceramic tile.
Artist Statement: “I created designs where imagery resonates as symbols of the great legacy of local basketball. In my work I want the emphasis to be on the institutions that enable everyone to take part in the sport: high school, college, and community league and textile mill ball.”
Artist Background: Mike Mandel is a nationally recognized public artist with more than 10 years of experience in large-scale photography-based projects. His process of computerizing photos so that they can be installed as permanent porcelain tile mosaics is unique. Notable projects include Ramsay Cascades, Knoxville; Parking at the Courthouse, Tampa; and Sitting Down at Rich’s, Atlanta. Mandel holds an MFA in Photography from the San Francisco Art Institute.
J. Paul Sires
Charlotte, North Carolina
Artwork Location: Plaza (between Trade & Fifth Streets)
Artwork Description: The outdoor sculptures were designed to enhance the arena’s plaza architecture by providing focal points to enliven the space and provide places for pedestrians to gather. Fabricated from a variety of North Carolina granite types and monumental in size, the benches’ unique shapes maximize seating. Carved surfaces provide interest and beauty up close and from afar.
Artist Statement: “The form of ‘Tulip’ and ‘Double Leaves’ represent my response to the design of the arena in a formal manner. The tulip reflects the history of agriculture of North and South Carolina. It also is symbolic of the growth of our community, prosperity and the promise of a successful future. The image of leaves represents the important concept of teamwork. It is the teamwork necessary for society to move forward. The fallow gear represents the acceptance that the fertile age of physical mechanics is past.”
Artist Background: Paul Sires has lived in Charlotte since 1983. A professional sculptor and co-owner of Center of the Earth Galleries, his commissions include Plaza Central Identity Project, North Carolina Museum of History, and Reedy Creek Park, as well as corporate and private commissions. Sires has a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Kent State University, and Master of Fine Arts from Cranbrook Academy of Art.
Charlotte, North Carolina
Artwork Location: Escalators
Artwork Description: Artist Tommie Robinson created two murals, one depicting diverse men and women engaged in commerce, with the image of a miner panning gold superimposed over design elements derived from contemporary business measurement tools (pie chart, bar graph, etc.). The present-day Charlotte skyline is shown in the background. The second mural depicts the evolution of public transportation and references Charlotte’s history as a transportation center. A train conductor represents the past while a mother with a child in her arms represents the future. Superimposed over images of a present-day bus and trolley, and a future light rail train, a ghostly laborer swings a sledge hammer, perhaps building the rail or trolley lines of the past, while a jet hovers in the background.
Artist Statement: “I set out to depict Charlotte’s diversity and included the different ages and races of people that make Charlotte vibrant. One panel reflects images of men and women engaged in business and industry settings and elements. The second panel includes public transportation images and shows the evolution of public transportation in Charlotte from the trolley car, buses and planes to the future of light rail.”
Artist Background: A native North Carolinian, noted painter Tommie Robinson is largely self-taught. His work has been featured in newspapers and magazines such as Art News and Watercolor Magazine. He has been commissioned for both corporate and public artworks, some of which are located in Charlotte, at the Adams Service Center, West Boulevard Branch Library, and Charlotte-Mecklenburg ABC Board offices.
Artwork Location: Trade Street Plaza, Fifth, Caldwell and Trade Streets
Artwork Description: The public art created for the arena’s plaza provides a sense of identity and excitement for visitors coming into this major sports and entertainment complex. Artist Andrew Leicester used forms from the textile industry in the Carolina Piedmont to create a visual language for the plaza in keeping with the building, which references mill architecture. Working with the existing 35-foot columns on Trade Street., Leicester modified the design with colorful bobbin forms, brickwork and lighting. To enrich the pedestrian experience on Caldwell, Trade and Fifth Streets, Leicester designed 23 unique colored ceramic sculptures, based upon the shapes of textile shuttles, to fit within the existing building piers.
Artist Statement: “My work derives its imagery from studying the history of the textile mill in this region. To make a grand and welcoming statement for the Trade Street plaza, I created four freestanding columns based on the theme of a giant cotton bobbin loaded with yarn in four primary colors. Additionally, the intimately scaled artworks in the alcoves circling the exterior of the arena are based on textile patterns. The introduction of color, variety and the unexpected will entice people to explore the entire arena.”
Artist Background: Andrew Leicester is a nationally recognized public artist with a career spanning 25 years. Based in Minneapolis, MN, he has created award-winning large scale design projects that create a sense of place. These include the Downtown East Station and Plaza for Hiawatha Light Rail, Minneapolis; The Ghost Series for Penn Station, Long Island Railroad; Zanja Madre, plaza lighting and water features, Los Angeles, and the Cincinnati Gateway Project for the Ohio Riverfront.
The Hornets Fan Shop
The Hornets Fan Shop is where fans can find team apparel for the Charlotte Hornets. Located on the south side of the arena, bordering Trade Street, The Team Store is accessible to the public from the arena’s Trade Street Plaza and to arena guests via the Club Concourse. View The Hornets Fan Shop Page for more information or to purchase online, visit HornetsFanShop.com