Oriole Park planner to join Turner

June 28, 1994|By Mark Hyman | Mark Hyman,Sun Staff Writer

Janet Marie Smith, a key planner of Camden Yards and the inspiration for many of its celebrated architectural flourishes, has signed on to help create another major-league ballpark.

Smith, 36, is leaving the Orioles after five years to join TBS Properties, Ted Turner's sprawling sports and entertainment empire. She assumes the title of vice president for sports facilities, and she'll be overlooking progress of a coming baseball park for the Atlanta Braves, a new Braves' spring training complex and an arena being talked about for the NBA Hawks and possibly a future NHL team.

Among Smith's major contributions to Camden Yards were many of its distinctive, fan-friendly touches. She lobbied hard for Camden green, the rich, dark color that dominates the ballpark. She rediscovered the turn-of-the-century Baltimore Baseball logo that decorates seat standards. Old-fashioned hand railings also were her idea.

But parceling out credit for the overall design of Camden Yards proved difficult. Others involved in the project, from architects to senior club officials, often bristled at the attention Smith received. Articles in several newspapers referred to her as the stadium's architect, when her role was limited to advocating design ideas for the Orioles.

Smith said the talk about who accomplished what at Camden Yards was unfortunate, and among her least favorite parts of the project.

"One of the disappointing parts of my job with the Orioles was there was so much discussion about who deserved credit for what," she said. "From my perspective, it was never as controversial as it was depicted in public."

Though she is leaving the Orioles, Smith said she won't be moving. She expects to commute to Atlanta, spending several days a week there, and to work extensively by phone. She lives NTC with her husband, F. Barton Harvey III, chairman and CEO of the Enterprise Foundation, in Baltimore. This year, the couple had their first child.

Smith's decision to leave the Orioles didn't come as a jolt. Her major project for the Orioles -- as vice president for planning and development -- ended with the opening of Camden Yards in 1992, and her duties for the club have been slowing since. Eighteen months ago, the Orioles and Braves worked out a deal allowing her to spend about two days each week working as a consultant on the stadium project in Atlanta.

"It was inevitable that her duties in Atlanta would expand, if she was amenable to full-time involvement," said Orioles owner Peter G. Angelos. "I think they made a very wise selection."

Braves officials applauded Smith, saying she already has brought fresh ideas to their stadium project.

"She knows more about stadiums than any person I know in America," said club president Stan Kasten. "We're thrilled to have her, especially coming off the singular experience of Camden Yards."

For her part, Smith said she was looking forward to her expanded role in the Atlanta ballpark. The stadium presents some unusual design issues because it will be used as a venue for the 1996 Olympics. A year later -- after a major conversion -- it will become a 48,000-seat ballpark for the Braves.

The Braves also hope to move to a new spring training complex in Jupiter, Fla., about 20 miles from their current headquarters in West Palm Beach.

Club officials said the complex, which would include a 7,500-seat park, could be ready by 1996.

Turner, whose major holdings include Cable News Network, the Braves and the Hawks, also is looking into construction of an arena in Atlanta. Kasten said that tenants in the building might include a new hockey team for the city.

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