Sports Designer Gedney Joins HNTB

At HOK he was known for work on arenas in Detroit, Edmonton

  • by Don Muret
  • Published: December 12, 2018

Ryan Gedney is the new national design director for architecture firm HNTB. (Courtesy Ryan Gedney)

Sports architect Ryan Gedney, whose design work on the NHL’s two newest arenas — in Detroit and Edmonton, Alberta — drew rave reviews, has joined HNTB after spending almost two decades with HOK and its predecessors.

Gedney, a senior vice president and design principal at his old firm, steps up at HNTB to assume the role of national design director. He is responsible for overseeing work across sports, plus aviation, transit and civic, among other markets.

Gedney starts his new job in early January. He will remain in Kansas City, home to HNTB’s sports practice, but his new job will take him to the firm’s offices to Los Angeles, Dallas, Denver and Seattle to collaborate with other design directors.

At HOK, his focus was sports with a specialty in big league arenas. Gedney played a principal role in designing Detroit’s Little Caesars Arena and Edmonton’s Rogers Place, two highly acclaimed NHL buildings.

He also worked on renovations to State Farm Arena in Atlanta, which transformed the NBA facility into a next-generation building that accommodates the new wave of premium-seat trends with couch seating, Topgolf swing suites and Southern plantation-themed suites. 

Most recently, Gedney was involved in a pair of United Soccer League projects, a new facility for Louisville City FC and a retrofit of an old municipal stadium for the Charlotte Independence.

In Kansas City, home of multiple sports design firms, Gedney had informal conversations with HNTB officials several months ago about the possibility of joining the firm in an elevated role. Those talks ultimately became more serious over time, he said.

“It’s obviously a small industry and things kind of germinate and evolve organically,” he said.

“It was a tough decision, but HNTB provided a unique opportunity for me to continue to have a strong voice in sports and entertainment … focused on the design culture I grew up in, a place where innovation and creativity drives everything.”

Gerardo Prado, HNTB’s sports practice leader and vice president, has known Gedney for eight years and always admired the “elegance and creativity” of his work. Gedney should help HNTB grow business in sports and entertainment, along with the firm’s other disciplines, he said.

“We’re in an aggressive hiring mode, and Ryan is part of building the foundation for our future sports practice,” Prado said.

Gedney said he will remain active as a designer at HNTB, which is involved in developing MLS stadiums in Sacramento, Calif., and Columbus, Ohio. In South Florida, HNTB is a finalist to design the stadium for Inter Miami FC, headed by David Beckham.

Apart from soccer, HNTB’s strength in sports over the years has been designing renovations to college football stadiums. In the NFL, the firm is teamed with Manica Architecture to design the Raiders' $1.8 billion stadium in Las Vegas that opens in 2020.

At this point, Gedney could not say which projects he may become involved in as he gets settled in at his new job.

Gedney, 42, got his start in sports architecture at the old Heinlein Schrock Stearns in 2001. Over the past 17 years, he’s seen the industry evolve with consolidation in the sports facility development space.

In 2004, Heinlein Schrock Stearns merged with CDFM2 to become 360 Architecture. Eleven years later, 360 merged with HOK.

Over the past year, several architects and others in leadership roles have left HOK, including George Heinlein, one of 360’s original partners. It comes as no surprise — in sports architecture, it’s the nature of the business for designers to come and go as the work flow fluctuates in that part of the industry.

Gedney said the transition at HOK had nothing to do with him leaving the company.

“I left at a time when business was thriving and my confidence in new leadership couldn’t be higher,” he said. “But the timing with my career and where HNTB is going offered a platform for growth. I’ve always welcomed transition in our industry as a whole. It’s a very exciting time for new voices and ideas at the highest level.”

  • by Don Muret
  • Published: December 12, 2018