On Tuesday, L.A. football fans had their dreams answered. NFL owners voted to approve the St. Louis Rams’ move to Los Angeles for the 2016 season, with an option for the San Diego Chargers (and perhaps the iconic Raiders) to also come to their new stadium in Inglewood designed by HKS. The proposed stadium is just one of a slew of stadium schemes that have been bandied about over the last few years, such as MANICA’s Charger’s 72,000-seat stadium on a 168-acre site in Carson, Gensler’s Farmer Field in Downtown Los Angeles, and other plans for the City of Industry, Elysian Park, the Rose Bowl, and the Los Angeles Coliseum. Located on the site of the former Hollywood Park racetrack, the HKS design promises a shell-like transparent roof over a 70,240-seat stadium with and extra 30,000-person capacity for standing-room-only events. Slated for opening in 2019, the approximately $3 billion plan includes a large landscaped area and mixed-use development on the city-owned land. “It's going to be so much more than going to a football game,” HKS’s Mark Williams told the LA Times. “You're going to be absorbed into the site, absorbed into the stadium and get a very wide bandwidth of experience. It's the kind of memory people are going to cherish for a lifetime.” See the gallery below for more images of the project.
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The implosion of an historic Detroit hotel on Saturday helped clear the way for a $650 million hockey arena that developers say will more than pay for itself in economic ripple effects, but critics see the demolition as the latest casualty of an ill-conceived scheme receiving public financing. The Red Wings will skate in a new arena slated to open in September 2017, the team and owner Mike Ilitch announced last year with splashy renderings and a pledge to "stabilize and develop dozens of underutilized blocks, create more jobs more quickly, and allow the city to spend public funds on other priorities.” But coming just weeks after Detroit became the largest city to declare bankruptcy in U.S. history, the Red Wings' management came under fire for their plan to use $283 million in public money (mostly in the form of tax increment financing). Vacant since 2003, the 13-story Park Avenue Hotel apparently stood in the way of the new arena's loading dock. Designed by Louis Kamper and completed in 1924, the Park Avenue Hotel was demolished over the weekend, its collapse captured in the drone video above. Since its glory days as a symbol of glitz in ascendant Detroit, the hotel had become a senior housing center and later a rehab facility. Locals gathered to bid the building farewell, reports the Detroit Free-Press. Meanwhile the public financing of arenas including the Red Wings' has sparked debate about whether wealthy private interests need such incentives from cash-strapped municipalities and states. The same day Detroit leveled the Park Avenue Hotel, late-night comedian John Oliver ridiculed the taxpayer funding of sports arenas on HBO, calling out the Red Wings and Ilitch in particular. The Red Wings responded today with a statement, saying "This project is about so much more than a world-class sports and entertainment arena; it's about transforming a core part of our city for the benefit of the entire community.” They did not, however, address Oliver's disdain for Little Caesars pizza, which Ilitch founded.
Missouri's football fans are savoring plans for a new NFL stadium in downtown St. Louis, but it remains unclear if the HOK-led designs will be enough to keep the Rams from leaving. In January fans of the St. Louis Rams got new reason to fear their football team might depart when owner Stan Kroenke announced plans to build an HKS-designed 80,000-seat stadium in the Los Angeles suburb of Inglewood. Twenty years after the NFL team left L.A. in the first place, they may well move back—but not if St. Louis officials and fans have their way. New renderings released in March give more substance to plans that could woo the Rams into staying: a football and soccer stadium on the banks of the Mississippi River designed by St. Louis–based HOK. The National Football League has said no team relocations will happen this year, but either stadium plan could be ready for construction in 2016.
After years of, ahem, false starts, it's looking very possible that the NFL will be returning to Los Angeles. According to the LA Times, St. Louis Rams owner Stan Kroenke, who bought 60 acres next to the Forum in Inglewood last year, has announced plans to build an HKS-designed 80,000-seat stadium and a 6,000-seat performance venue as part of the 300-acre Hollywood Park site. He's teaming up with Stockbridge Capital Group on what's being labeled the "City of Champions" Revitalization Project. Stockbridge is now building a mixed-use development there with developer Wilson Meany and designers Mia Lehrer + Associates, Hart Howerton Architects & Planners, BCV Architects, SWA, and others. The Rams left Los Angeles in 1994, while the Raiders took off for Oakland the next year, leaving the city teamless for almost two decades. Kroenke has been outspoken about his unhappiness with his club's current stadium, the Edward Jones Dome, and St. Louis is expected to give the owner a new offer by the end of this month. If that doesn't pan out, the new stadium (and the surrounding "City of Champions" Revitalization Project) could be on the Inglewood ballot later this year, and the scheme could be complete by 2018. Inglewood recently reopened the Forum, so momentum is building. Meanwhile efforts for stadiums in Downtown LA and City of Industry remain on hold until another team steps in.
Every year at about this time, Los Angeles' design community comes together for a good cause—and a chance to show off their ingenuity working with an unusual building material. We’re talking Canstruction LA, which just wrapped its eighth outing. Like other Canstruction events nationwide, Canstruction LA invites teams of architects, engineers, builders, and designers to design and build sculptures entirely out of canned food. The 2014 competition produced an array of impressive designs and—most importantly—donated 28,551 cans of food to the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank. Canstruction LA is put on by an all-volunteer steering committee under the auspices of the Society for Design Administration. Julie D. Taylor, Hon. AIA/LA, who serves on the committee, first read about the Canstruction program in a magazine. “[I] thought, this would be great for my clients to do,” said Taylor, who is the principal of Taylor & Company, a public relations firm for creative professionals. “I called up the national organization and said, ‘Who’s doing it in LA?’ They said, ‘No one. Why don’t you do it?’” So Taylor did, and the event keeps getting better. This year’s participants donated 7,000 more pounds of food than last year’s. Because the design teams are responsible for obtaining the cans, “it’s a major commitment for the firms that contribute,” said Taylor. Participants must also agree to a set of ground rules: they’re limited in size to a 10- by 10- by 8-foot cube; they have to use nutritious food, and the labels have to stay on. The designers can use a few additional materials to hold their creations together, but the sculptures should be mostly cans. The participating teams submitted drawings to the event organizers ahead of time. “Every year I look at them and I go, ‘There’s no way they’re going to be able to do that,” said Taylor. “And every year they knock me out.” Once on site, the designers have just one all-nighter to put their sculptures together. A jury of art, architecture, and culinary experts reviews the creations and awards several prizes, including the Juror’s Favorite, Best Use of Labels, Best Meal, and Structural Ingenuity. Visitors to the exhibition of finished works can vote for a People’s Choice honoree for one dollar, with all proceeds going to the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank. This year’s Juror’s Favorite was FOOD FIGHT! by PCL Construction Services, KPFF Consulting Engineers, and Callison, a face-off between a container of french fries and an apple that reflects on Angelenos’ struggle to access nutritious foods. Best Use of Labels went to Reflecting Hunger, by Steinberg Architects, which is based on Anish Kapoor’s Cloud Gate sculpture in Chicago. CANimal Style Trio, by American Society of Civil Engineers Younger Member Forum, which imagines a health-conscious update to the classic fast-food meal, took Best Meal. The spiraling Pineapple Twist, by NBBJ and Thornton Tomasetti won both Structural Ingenuity and People’s Choice. Honorable Mention went to CAN Get some Satisfaction, a Rolling Stones-inspired challenge to hunger by LARGE Architecture and HKS Inc. Canstruction LA 2014 took place for the second time at the Farmers and Merchants Bank in downtown Los Angeles as part of the Downtown Art Walk. “Being open during the Downtown Art Walk is incredible,” said Taylor. “The number of people who go through, and the diversity of people, is fabulous, and so that’s been a really big boon. We hope to be downtown for many, many years and engage the downtown community.”
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel is reportedly considering a plan to boost capacity at Soldier Field, the city’s football stadium, in a bid to host the Super Bowl. But as the Chicago Tribune’s Blair Kamin laid out in a story Sunday, the play is a Hail Mary. Indianapolis’ new Lucas Oil Stadium, designed by HKS' Bryan Trubey [read AN’s Q+A with Trubey here], hosted the Super Bowl in 2012. Indy has also hosted the NCAA Final Four and the Big Ten football championship. The stadium, which holds 70,000 people under its retractable roof, has spurred nearby development and solidified Indianapolis’ position as a Midwest sports Mecca. The ability to seat 70,000 fans is considered a prerequisite for hosting the Super Bowl, so Soldier Field’s capacity of 61,500 falls short. Soldier Field is currently the smallest stadium in the NFL. But an additional 5,000 would still make the home of the Chicago Bears a tight squeeze for spectators of the country’s biggest sporting event. Emanuel told the Chicago Sun-Times’ Fran Spielman it’s also about other events:
“I know everybody looks at the Super Bowl. But, look at this hockey event [between the Blackhawks and Pittsburgh Penguins], which we started last year with college hockey. You look at two years ago when we had the Mexican soccer team here. We have Liverpool coming. These things not only sell out. They sell out fast. And it’s clear that you could do more, given these super events and they would be self-financing and self-sustaining.”Dirk Lohan, who led the master plan for the stadium’s expansion, told Kamin he’s not optimistic about the preliminary expansion plans. He said the original renovations had to balance capacity and preservation, leading to a design whose structural system could not be updated today without considerable expenses. [Read AN’s Q+A with Dirk Lohan in the upcoming March issue of the Midwest edition.] Architects Benjamin Wood and Carlos Zapata modernized 1920s-era Soldier Field in 2003, but the Bears’ desire to add more seating lost out to the city’s imperative to preserve Soldier Field’s historic colonnades. The $690 million renovation lost its National Historic Landmark status anyway in 2006. It’s unclear who’s studying the possible expansion for the Mayor, but whoever reviews the plan may have to lock heads with public scrutiny as intense as the stadium’s design challenges.