Building a Legacy

Janet Marie Smith’s ballpark designs have changed the landscape of the game

March 24, 2012
(NBHOF Library)

Baseball stadiums are iconic for the fans who call them home. Others who work in baseball spend hours in the front office helping to ensure that the experience of those attending a baseball game is the best it can be for each fan.

And then there are those whose job it is to make sure that the baseball stadium itself captures the vision, essence, and personality of the team, the city, the players, and the fans who bring the game to life. One of the most talented women working in baseball today holds this important and influential job – and her name is Janet Marie Smith.

Smith, who holds a bachelor’s degree in architecture from Mississippi State University and a master’s in urban planning from the City College of New York, is currently the Vice President of Planning and Development for the Baltimore Orioles. Smith has also held the positions of Vice President of Planning and Development for the Atlanta Braves and the Senior Vice President of Planning and Development for the Boston Red Sox. Outside of baseball, Smith has worked on such landmarks as the Olympic Stadium and Phillips Arena (Atlanta), Pershing Square (Los Angeles) and Battery Park (New York City).

When working on a project, Smith is responsible for putting together a team of professionals to design a facility that takes into account such factors as comfort, style, and the building’s overall design and construction. Under her direction, concepts are designed, implemented, and built for countless facilities that match their surrounding neighborhoods.

A perfect example of how Smith weds the stadium to its surroundings is the complementary relationship between the city of Baltimore and Camden Yards that helped bring about a renaissance of the city’s warehouse district.

“The collection of attractions that were being added to Baltimore at the time was really what drove the design,” Smith said. “It is only 20 years later, in hindsight that you can say it really began a new era of thinking in ballparks. It certainly wasn’t our goal, expectation, nor would we have been presumptuous enough to say, ‘We’re going to change the trend.’ We just said, ‘We want to do the right thing for Baltimore.’

Anna Wade is the former director of museum education for the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum