Newsmaker/mike1st/mark2nd

The architectural principal in charge of two of L.A.'s highest-profile projects, Staples Center and the new Coliseum, is jumping ship to start his own firm.

Michael Hallmark has resigned his post as a principal architect for NBBJ Sports & Entertainment, effective July 1, and will launch a specialty consulting group focusing on strategic issues for major sports facilities. He said his new office will be on the Westside.

"I feel comfortable moving to a niche I can have a solo hand in," Hallmark said.

He said he wants to help cities and sports-entertainment developers get their huge projects off to a better start. "I've been spending an inordinate amount of time helping clients position themselves," he said. "What we've been able to do is help clients create an emotional vision."

He sees himself consulting on marketing projects and representing the owners' interests, as he did on behalf of the New Coliseum Partners in its presentations to the NFL team owners.

The Arizona State University graduate started specializing in sports-entertainment architecture in the mid-'80s, as director of HNTB's sports facilities group. He worked on renovations to Madison Square Garden in New York and Fenway Park in Boston. Hallmark, 45, later helped found Ellerbe Becket Sports Architects before joining NBBJ.

NBBJ has projects under construction all over the country, including Seattle's Safeco Field, Milwaukee's Miller Park, Paul Brown Stadium in Cincinnati and downtown L.A.'s Staples Center, which will be the home of the Lakers, Clippers and Kings. NBBJ also came up with an 11th-hour new design for the venerable Coliseum.

The secret to his success, Hallmark says, has been "constantly interpreting" sports-entertainment venues. "It's a mixture of feeling conviction about something and getting others to see that vision as well," he said.

Elizabeth Hayes

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