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Populous unveils plan to revamp horse-racing track in New York

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Global architecture studio Populous has designed a renewed horse-racing track and sporting venue for Belmont Park in Nassau County, New York.

The facility will redevelop the original Belmont Park, which first opened in 1905 and was renovated in 1968. The historic track has been home to the Belmont Stakes for over 155 years and has seen racing legends like Beldame and Seabiscuit.

Kansas City-based Populous has been tasked with replacing the 1.25-million square foot (116,1300-square metre) structure – including 275,000 square feet (25,550 square metres) of interior space – to modernize the complex and add contemporary amenities and hospitality offerings, as well as transform the racetrack into a multi-purpose venue for both racing and non-racing events.

Belmont Park by Populous
Populous has unveiled a design for New York’s Belmont Park

The new five-storey grandstand will maintain the current 50,000 seats, but reorganize them in a flexible layout that accommodates off-season events. The white building will be wrapped in glazing shaded by a monumental cantilevered roof with swooping rounded corners.

“Key spaces within and around the building have been optimized for flexibility, supporting both racing and non-racing events,” the Populous team said, referencing large interior and exterior green public space that can be used by the surrounding Elmont, Floral Park, and East Queens communities.

The new clubhouse is designed to be used for community events and social gatherings such as weddings, in addition to hosting races.

Cantilevered roof on the stadiumCantilevered roof on the stadium
The white building will be shaded by a cantilevered roof

The redevelopment project also extends to the barn and backstretch areas, with the construction of three new dormitories and bicycle-storage sheds to encourage multi-modal travel.

Renovated spaces will include an on-site medical facility, recreation hall, track kitchen and gymnasium. Additionally, the team will implement new flood mitigation strategies, replace fencing, install a Blue Light security system, ensure access to reliable WiFi and assess the feasibility of subsidized assistant trainer efficiency apartments.

“Belmont Park’s past is rich with trendsetting racing innovation and it has always been a place where people gather together,” Populous principal Meg McWilliam told Dezeen.

“We’re proud to utilize our global racing expertise and intimate understanding of the operations behind high-profile thoroughbred racing events to design a facility that isn’t just eye-catching but is functionally efficient.”

“Alongside NYRA, we’re bringing American racing into the twenty-first century.”

Demolition began in mid-March, prompting the relocation of the June 2024 Belmont Stakes to the Saratoga Race Course. After the site is cleared, structural concrete, the exterior facade, roof and canopy will be raised throughout 2025.

The New York Racing Association hopes to bring the Belmont Stakes back to the venue in 2026, preceding the official re-opening of Belmont Park in September 2026.

The facility – which is estimated to generate $155 million in economic output annually – is also a hopeful location of the 2026 Breeder’s Cup.

“The park at Belmont has not only been beautifully maintained, it’s expanded to the west and into the infield, continuing its legacy as a community asset,” McWilliam said.

“The revitalization project allows us to enhance a park that is already beloved by the community, creating publicly accessible green space in the area.”

Horse racing trackHorse racing track
Populous will also construct a new horse racing track

Populous is also currently working on a temporary cricket stadium for the 2024 World Cup in Nassau County and the design for a new football stadium for the Buffalo Bills in Western New York set to be completed in 2026.

The images are courtesy of Populous.


Project credits:

Structural: Thornton Tomasetti
Civil: Bohler Engineering
MEP/lighting: ME Engineers
Vertical transportation: Fortune Shepler Saling
Code: Howe Engineers

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