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06.18.2014
Challenging Convention
With plans at risk, Los Angeles explores new convention center options.
Courtesy Populous / AEG

Unless an NFL team comes to Los Angeles by this October, developer AEG and architect Populous’ ambitious scheme to expand the Los Angeles Convention Center (LACC) will be dead. In its place the city is already making plans to hold a design competition for an architect to design a plan B, a more modest upgrade of the facility.

AEG’s $275 million proposal, built on the site of the Convention Center’s West Hall and bridging over Pico Boulevard, depends on funding from the company’s potential downtown stadium, Farmers Field, which is looking more unlikely as its October 18 deadline draws near. The city’s Ad Hoc Committee on Downtown Stadium and Convention Center Renovation has been discussing alternatives since last year.

 

“The City must be prepared with other options to immediately effectuate LACC improvements that do not rely on the development of a stadium on the site,” wrote Gerry Miller, the city’s chief legislative analyst, in a 2013 report to the members of LA’s Economic Development Committee.

Vicki Curry, spokesperson for LA Mayor Eric Garcetti, told AN that in case the stadium plan dies, the city’s Bureau of Engineering is now considering a three-firm design competition to select a new architect by this October. But its Task Order Solicitation—involving a general request for qualifications—has not yet been released, so the plans are still not official.

 

Populous’ plan came under fire in 2012 from a group of architects and city employees convened by then-mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. The “Vision Team,” as they were called, demanded a general design overhaul, and were particularly critical of the long, dark spaces created by bridging the building over Pico Boulevard. The plan was nonetheless approved by City Council in September 2012.

The city has solicited advice to improve the existing convention center from both the Urban Land Institute and consulting company Convention, Sports, and Leisure. Suggestions included introducing more natural light, integrating more retail and food services, adding more informal gathering spaces and outdoor spaces, and installing more exhibit space.

Sam Lubell