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Sharp buildings designed for sharp skating.
Image via Complex Original
Written by Megan Ann Wilson.
The sport of ice hockey is rich in tradition and history but it’s rarely seen as a high-brow or artistic activity. Outside of my native Canada, hockey is often overshadowed by other professional and college sports and almost every NHL team plays in mammoth multi-purpose athletic stadiums. However there are many undiscovered architectural jewels and historical buildings that are dedicated to the fastest game on earth.
From the best college barns to take in a game, to the ultra modern rinks in Europe worthy of artistic admiration, we've scoured the globe for the best of the best. Honorable mentions go to the Palasport Olimpico, Hakons Hall in Lillehammer, and Matthews Arena, but they miss our list.
Here are the 10 Coolest Hockey Rinks in the World.
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Year Opened: 1922Location: Princeton Unviersity, Princeton, New JerseyBaker Rink earns a spot on our list thanks to it’s rich history and classic style. It’s the oldest NCAA arena devoted solely to hockey still in use. The curved steel trestle ceiling, brick exterior building and Tiger orange bleacher seating provide a historical hockey experience. Improvements like a scoreboard, better lighting and locker rooms were made over time but the architecture remains an ode to traditional hockey barns of eras past before helmets and professional contracts.
Year Opened: 1993Location: Gjovik, NorwayWhen Norway was awarded the 1994 Olympic games, more rinks were a necessity. Since half of the country is covered in mountains and rocks, the Norwegians chose to embrace their heritage and build the newest rink into Hovdetoppen mountain making the world’s largest cavern open to the public. Instead of dwarfing the landscape, the architects designed all nine stories of building underground. Only in Norway must you go completely subterranean to watch a local professional hockey game.
Year Opened: 1960Location: Utica, New YorkBefore the Saddledome set the record for their suspended roof, there was the smaller scale Utica Memorial Auditorium. Known locally as The Aud, it was the first arena of its kind to use a long-span cable structure was only seen up to that point in suspension bridges. It uses two layers of cables an outer ring that best resembles the spokes on a bicycle wheel and is exposed in the arena for an interesting architectural view. It allows for unobstructed views for the 4000 spectators. While professional hockey left The Aud in 1993, it’s still home to the Utica College Pioneers.
7. Albert L. Gutterson Fieldhouse
Year Opened: 1963Location: University of Vermont - Burlington, VermontWhen you take a trip to Gutterson Fieldhouse in Vermont, be sure to remember that it’s what’s on the inside that counts. Like Vaillant Arena in Switzerland, Gutterson embraces visible wood in its construction.The barrel-vaulted arena is impressive from the inside and the warm wood paneling that arches overhead only adds to the traditional barn atmosphere of the rink. Despite being the largest indoor arena in the state, the Vermont Catamount ice hockey games almost always sell out. An ideal place to get a local college town experience - if you can score a ticket.
Year Opened: 2008Location: Jurmala, LatviaThis small arena outside of the Latvian capital of Riga earns a place on this list despite being a multifunctional facility thanks to it’s unique design. The Majori Primary School Sports Hall is another ode to minimalism and nature as it resembles chunks of amber that wash up on the Baltic coast. The structure uses varying heights as to not full interfere with the surroundings as well as enclose an existing shed from the neighboring closed school. The building is covered in polycarbonate that’s sixty percent transparent allowing outsiders to watch the game. The hall also illuminates the surrounding area thanks to the interior lighting and bright ice.
Year Opened: 1979Location: Davos, SwitzerlandUnlike like most current arenas, Vaillant Arena was once an open ice rink. In 1970, the first attempt to cover the rink began using wooden pillars and sections of timber to form a vaulted dome celling. It was finally finished in 1979 but the sides of arena were still open. Glass panels were added in 1982 to fully enclose the arena. Raised platforms with additional standing room and modern elements have been added throughout the years, but Vaillant remains the perfect venue to pray to Lord Stanley thanks to the Basilica-style ceiling and seating.
Year Opened: 1989 Location: Stockholm, SwedenThe dome has been a popular ice hockey arena design since Mellon Arena in Pittsburgh opened in 1958, but the Swedes went one better and constructed The Ericsson Globe. The Globe is biggest hemispherical building in the world with a diameter of 361 feet and is Sweden’s national indoor arena. It closely resembles an oversized ping pong ball but also represents the Sun in the Sweden Solar System, the largest scale model of our Solar System in the world. In 2010, a funicular was added along the outer of the globe to give tourists an unparalleled view of Stockholm.
Year Opened: 2007Location: Jaca, SpainAt the foot of Pyrenees in Spain is a very modern interpretations of an ice hockey rink. The arena mimics a drop of water falling from the mountains as the building appears frozen on the ground thanks to exclusion of a visible facade. The outer dome membrane keeps all the functional elements inclusive such as the structure, roof, lighting, security and air conditioning systems as well as the divisions of space within the arena. This allows the interior to contain only concrete, brick and ice for a beautiful fusion of minimalism and natural elements.
Year Opened: 1983Location: Calgary, Alberta, CanadaWhen the Flames came to Calgary in 1980 and the Winter Olympics set for 1988, the city needed a new arena. Graham McCourt Architects designed the arena with the goal in mind of pillar free viewing from any seat in the house. Coincidentally, the ingenious design resembles a saddle, perfect for the home of the Stampede. The Saddledome remains the world record holder for the longest spanning hyperbolic paraboloid concrete shell and is an 1980‘s icon that will never go out of style.
Year Opened: 1958Location: Yale University - New Haven, CT.Better known as the “Yale Whale”, the Eero Saarinen designed building is one of the most distinctive rinks in college hockey. Ingalls Rink earns the whale moniker thanks to it’s humpbacked-style timber roof that’s supported by a cable net and 30 foot reinforced concrete arch that resembles a whale’s backbone. The rink was renovated in the late ‘90s to add more community services but the classic design and style remained intact.
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