The Architecture of Wrestling – Ring My Bell

Overview of the Bell Centre in Montreal

You couldn't create a little more space between you and the giant glass tower?

The WWE’s last pay per view Breaking Point took place at the Bell Centre in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.  It was finished being built in 1996 (more information on the history here).  I noted how old Joe Louis Arena is but this one was designed and built after HOK started making stadiums and arenas well designed structures. Bell Centre was actually designed by the Consortium of Quebec Architects, which obviously is not one specific firm and I couldn’t find confirmation on who was in the group.

Same elevation, different perspective

Same elevation, different perspective

On to the building design which is the important part. The above photos show the northwest side of the building (Google map here) although the lower photo does show the southwest face too.  They have used three different materials – brick, block and glass – but what is strange to me is the use of two different type of stone, one of which is a beige color and the other which is more gray. The beige block matches the block from St. George’s Anglican Church which is  so I would think that they would stick with it rather than having two different types. The beige stone along with the brick and glass also matches some of the other buildings around the area.  I’d suggest using the “More” tab on the map to click around the area’s pictures. The gray stone continues to make little sense after leafing through the photos. The glass could be lighter and still be opaque so that it would match the surrounding area more but the contrast in colors that it creates helps offset that problem.

The stone tower, with the Centre Bell sign, along with brick with the small slats help to create a vertical feel visually which terminates with the beige stone. On top of the stone is the black (maybe a dark blue) glass which continues the horizontal banding which carries around the northwest face to the soutwest. The banding helps to make the building flow. Normally, stone or brick is built up in a staggered formation (called stretcher bond) but the beige stone is a stacked bond, which lines it up so that the joints are linear. The stack helps to emphasize the verticality of the tower and also the horizontal nature of the stone above the brick and glass corner. To the left of the tower is a combination of gray stone and glass. It also does a good job of combining horizontal and vertical banding. The stone columns and the mullions (or fenestration if you prefer) create the verticals. The horizontal nature comes from the stone above and below the main portion of the glass. The condensed nature of the windows on the top help provide the horizontal feel too.

That’s all I can analyze though because all of the pictures that I found on Google are of this elevation.  It’s quite obvious the design quality has been upgraded since 1979. -Kevin

The Architecture of Wrestling – The Joe

The exterior is so bland, I feel like you could play "Where's Waldo?" with Joe Louis Arena.

The exterior is so bland, I feel like you could play "Where's Waldo?" with Joe Louis Arena.

With a little extra time on my hands, I figured it was time to delve into the arenas that the WWE visits on a regular basis. For my first selection I’ve gone with the building that was the host of Monday Night Raw, Joe Louis Arena in Detroit, Michigan. I think it’s a bit unfair to start here because it was built in 1979 (if you want more history information go here) and an aesthetic arena design wasn’t exactly something that a majority of venues were worried about. It will serve as a nice base line though for newer arenas and to show how far arena design has come.

It is a hexagon with a large parallelogram that cuts through the longest portion of the building. The parallelogram is the highest portion of the building. Just below that are two bands that are flat with piers at the corner. In between the piers on the lowest two bands of the building the building seems to conform to the curved nature of the seating bowl. It just looks like it was tossed together rather than planning out some recesses and raised areas to create visual interest. The flat roof doesn’t create any visual interest either.


Even with the exterior as mashed together as it seems, it’d help if it had a different paint job. The red base only helps to make you notice that the top is a bland gray that blends in with the bland gray around it. Normally, I would worry about the arena matching or having common elements with the buildings around it but all I see in the near distance are gerbil tunnels and parking garages which aren’t exactly design oriented structures. Considering the awfulness of those structures, it’s all the more reason to do something more to make the arena stick out with a better paint job.

The structures around it also put on display that the site for the building is pretty atrocious unless you have x-ray vision to see through the walls of the arena to look out on the Detroit River. If the water front was developed, it would help to spruce up the surrounding area, give the arena something to borrow some of it’s extrerior design from and give a purpose to the Joe being sited on a river.

Nothing like having to take a nice long walk up a flight of stairs before even getting into the arena concourse.

Nothing like having to take a nice long walk up a flight of stairs before even getting into the arena concourse.

I can’t really say too much about the interior but I assume it’s a pretty standard layout (especially from the seating chart) so I’ll hold off criticism of it. In total, there isn’t a whole lot to like about the extrerior of this building including the surrounding area. – Kevin

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