Senior Principal, Design Director | Populous
Scott Capstack grew up as a self-described “Air Force brat,” moving around the country and internationally. His professional career has taken him down a similar path, which has helped him become a well-rounded public assembly designer.
Over his 27 years as an architect, Capstack, a senior principal at Populous, has worked across multiple firms, which on its own, is not surprising for that industry. For Capstack, though, it’s been an interesting adventure.
“It’s about the ability to bounce around and be hyper creative all the time,” Capstack said. “I enjoy that process.”
He started big at the old HOK Sport, which was the dominant designer of NFL stadiums in the 1990s and early 2000s. In his mid-20s, he became lead designer for the Tennessee Titans’ stadium, now Nissan Stadium, which opened in 1999.
For Capstack, it was unusual, considering his young age. He had been employed at HOK Sport for less than one year before he was “thrown into the fire” in heading an NFL stadium project.
It was among about a half-dozen NFL stadium projects HOK was involved with at the time.
“The NFL stadium boom was taking off and we were exploding at the seams as a firm,” Capstack said. “There was this mentality that ‘we’ll mentor you along the way, but let’s do this’ kind of thing, which was the best learning experience I could ever ask for.”
Over time, Capstack got the “seven-year itch” and left HOK Sport to work at a few smaller firms, including 360 Architecture, to see what else was out there and learn more about being engaged beyond a 250-person practice.
But Capstack realized he missed the big sports developments that were often 20 projects in one, layering in everything else, including premium spaces and plazas tied to big league venues. He landed at HNTB in 2006, immediately going to work on renovations to the Las Vegas Convention Center, a 3 million square foot facility.
He’s since been consistently involved in complex projects. After helping design Levi’s Stadium and some college venues at HNTB, Capstack returned to his old stomping grounds at Populous in 2016. Seven years earlier, it split from HOK corporate into a separate firm.
“I’ve been here collectively for 15 years, and it feels many times like I’ve never left,” he said. “We’re touching all project types, including MLS pursuits such as the New England Revolution and the Kraft Group in hopes of some day getting a stadium built for them.”
At this point, Capstack, as design director for the Americas has taken a leadership role at Populous, mentoring young designers to be the best they can be and to create the best product possible.
“I’m excited for where the industry and Populous is going,” he said. “We continue to evolve as a practice, touching every aspect of these buildings and how they impact cities.” — Don Muret