A look back at the birth of the SkyDome
The SkyDome — or Rogers Centre as it is now officially known — is a building toward which Toronto has by now become mostly ambivalent. Although it's a central figure on the city's skyline and its most identifiable object when photographed from space (see below), the excitement the stadium once engendered passed away less than a decade after it officially opened back in June of 1989.
There are many reasons for this. Toronto it seems just wasn't quite as interested in baseball after the 1994-95 MLB strike for one. But perhaps more than that, the philosophy behind baseball stadium building shifted right about the time the Dome opened. In the years that followed, the most adored stadiums to open were throwback designs like that of Camden Yards in Baltimore. The fact that the Jays haven't (seriously) competed for a championship since their last win may or may not also contribute to the SkyDome's lack of intrigue.
And yet it's still a rather remarkable building. One of the highlights of Ryan Emond's Toronto Tempo video that earned much praised last year was the sequence that showed the stadium's roof in motion, an action seemingly built for timelapse videos, and a reminder that the Rogers Centre (I'll never get used to calling it that) is more than just a monolothic sports facility with no character. Is it the best place to watch a baseball or football game (or even a concert for that matter)? Nope. But when the roof is open and the stands are full, there's something grand about the building.
With the news of SkyDome architect Rod Robbie's death last week, I thought that a photo collection of the birth of what was arguably his most famous building (he also designed the Canadian Pavilion at Expo '67) might prove a humble tribute to the man behind the coolest roof in the world.
The Railway Lands pre-SkyDome
Under construction from the CN Tower. Photo by ~EvidencE~
Photo by cliffordstead
SkyDome steel work
Image via the Stadium Page
Ad for SkyDome in 1988
Almost Done. Photo via the Toronto Archives
Done! SkyDome postcard from 1990
Photo by Somewhere in Toronto
Photo via the Image Science & Analysis Laboratory, NASA Johnson Space Center
Photo by Dmao11
Check out this timelapse of the construction of the SkyDome, which also features some awesome sequences of the first tests on the moving roof.