SAVANNAH, Georgia—Historic downtown Savannah’s transformation into a must-see-must-experience arts, culture, and entertainment district was reaffirmed this past Saturday when legendary musicians the Eagles performed in the city’s newest venue, Enmarket Arena. Designed by global architecture and design firm Perkins&Will in collaboration with Goode Van Slyke Architecture, the 9,500-seat arena for the Eagles’ performance—the venue’s first sold-out show—and already has an impressive lineup of concerts, cultural activities, and sporting events planned throughout 2022.
“Savannah is an amazing city, a cultural and culinary jewel in the Southeast. It’s been an honor to spend the last three years designing such an important arena here,” says Jeff Chermely, project manager and operations director for Perkins&Will’s Denver studio. “Enmarket Arena will attract the caliber of performers and events that, for over 20 years, the city could not do. It’s been a long time in the making.”
The opening of the arena also marks the realization of the city’s new Canal District Master Plan, which includes historic neighborhoods on the west side of the Springfield Canal. Designed by Perkins&Will in close collaboration with city officials, local planners, and community members, the Canal District Master Plan aims to ensure socially equitable economic growth in the area for the next 50 years.
“The creation of the Canal District was guided by the voices of its residents, and the opening of the Enmarket Arena is the first step toward bringing it to fruition,” says Jeff Williams, urban design principal in Perkins&Will’s Atlanta studio.
An Inclusive District for an Equitable Community
The site of the Canal District, a former marshland, is home to a largely African American community that has historically been separated from the rest of the city’s downtown. The Canal District Master Plan weaves these two important areas together, creating continuity and inclusivity. It is also designed to empower Savannah residents and city leaders to create resilient, accessible places where people, the city, and nature thrive together equitably. In fact, a key feature of the Canal District Master Plan is a “playbook” of short- and long-term actions the city and its residents should take to ensure public accountability and environmental sustainability.
“The development of the Canal District—and that includes the opening of Enmarket Arena—has put Savannah on the threshold of major social, environmental, and infrastructure change,” Williams says. “Seeing it all start to come to life exactly as Savannahians have envisioned it is exciting and deeply rewarding.”
A Southern Arena for World-Class Events
Drawing from the city’s rich history, period architecture, and southern cuisine, Enmarket Arena’s innovative design details and amenities create a distinctly Savannah experience. Expansive exterior terraces take advantage of the city’s warm climate and provide unique event spaces. Clubs, restaurants, bars, and concessions located close to the main event area ensure visitors enjoy an uninterrupted experience no matter where they are in the arena. Enmarket is now also home of the ECHL Ghost Pirates, a newly launched professional hockey franchise, and will host all home games for the team and a variety of other sporting events.
“Enmarket Arena has something for everyone, whether your flavor is concerts, hockey, or the cool vibe of the southern speakeasy,” says Chermely. “It really is a welcoming place for all.”