Yesterday, Gensler unveiled its newest plans for Farmers Field, Downtown LA's proposed football stadium, which, of course, is still awaiting a team to play in it (as are several other proposed stadiums in California). The biggest changes to the design involve the roof, which will now have large projecting wings (likely made of ETFE, said one Gensler architect). The roof will no longer be retractable, but "deployable," meaning the roof can be taken off, but not instantaneously, which will bring the structure's cost down significantly, Gensler pointed out. The new roof design, which will open up views to the city, was likened to "shoulder pads" by Curbed LA, perhaps a fitting design for a football stadium? So that the stadium doesn't dwarf the rest of the adjacent LA Live, it will be partially sunken into the ground, noted Curbed. Meanwhile two levels of stadium meeting and suite space will connect directly to the new convention center that developer AEG is also planning for the site. AEG hopes to have the stadium ready by the 2016 football season.
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Custom canopy scores big at Kansas City’s new soccer stadium.Kansas City’s Livestrong Sporting Park opened in June as the city’s first soccer-centric stadium and the new home of the Sporting Kansas City, the soccer team formerly known as the Kansas City Wizards. To make the arena both athlete- and fan-friendly, architect Populous envisioned a soaring roof canopy designed to evoke the arc of a soccer ball flying across the field. The team considered building the canopy with ETFE (ethylene tetrafluoroethylene) pillows, but desired a look more in line with glass panels. The weight of glass would have significantly increased the amount of steel substructure, in turn raising the canopy’s price. Working with Michigan-based architectural canopy design, engineering, and fabrication company Duo-Gard, the team began instead to develop a high-performance polycarbonate glazing system that minimized weight and maximized light transmission onto the field. In addition to its impact-resistance and long-span structural requirements, the canopy had to meet several programmatic demands. The architects wanted to create an intimate environment that would amplify the crowd’s noise, so the canopy had to cover every seat. While it would provide some shade for the audience, the structure also had to have enough light transmittance to maintain the natural grass preferred by Major League Soccer. The polycarbonate canopy would curve around the more than 1,800-foot stadium circumference, ranging from 25 to 70 feet in depth with a 1/12 pitch and 12-foot spans between structural members. “This kind of span hadn’t been done before by anyone with polycarbonate at a slight slope,” said Duo-Gard president David Miller. “Our engineers broke ground with this.” More than 100 feet above the ground, the stadium’s steel structure cantilevers 95 feet and supports a metal deck that transitions to the two-tiered clear polycarbonate deck, which is built with a 36-inch step-down to form a cavity for lighting and sound equipment. The 25mm triple-wall polycarbonate glazing allows 80 percent light transmission and integrates Duo-Gard’s 3 ½-inch aluminum profile at 32 inches on center to minimize shading. The framing system incorporates a custom engineered base plate, pressure plate, and curved cap that conceals canopy fasteners. According to Frank Kosciolek, Duo-Gard’s engineering manager, typical canopy systems have a 7-inch profile at 24 inches on center, creating more shadows and requiring an additional steel purlin. The team estimated that elimination of the extra purlin resulted in a 35 percent reduction in the amount of metal used. The system also met one and a half times of its structural loading requirements during testing. As home to the largest polycarbonate stadium canopy in North America, Kansas City’s sports scene is enjoying its moment in the sun.
It turns out that sports arena architects Populous (formerly HOK Sport) have bagged not just one, but two of the biggest hypothetical projects in Los Angeles. Not only has the firm designed Majestic Realty's proposed football stadium for the City of Industry, but they were just named by AEG as designers of its competition: The LA Convention Center's relocated West Hall, which would be coupled with Gensler's new downtown football stadium if that project gets approval. Both projects, of course, have yet to receive that elusive approved status and, perhaps of greater concern, LA still has no football team, but it's still a coup for Populous, whose Dan Meis would not comment on the company's new commission. "We are laying a bit low on commenting on this given we have been involved with both projects," he told AN. Still a Populous spokesperson told the LA Times, "We're not currently performing work for a competing NFL stadium in Los Angeles," and that the firm had Majestic's blessing. Only time will tell if this situation gets tense.
Although LA still does not have an NFL Team, developer AEG today awarded architecture giant Gensler the design of the city's hypothetical 1.7 million square foot downtown stadium, called Farmers Field. Gensler beat out HKS and HNTB who were also shortlisted for the project back in December. If the $1 billion project moves forward it will seat 65,000 to 75,000 people, contain about 200 luxury suites, and have a retractable roof, enabling it to facilitate convention events as well as football games. Gensler's proposal also features a lightweight ETFE roof, bulging outward and taking on an oval-shaped profile. The project would be located on a 15-acre plot on the site of the LA Convention Center's West Hall, which would be demolished and moved to a site further south (AEG is conducting a search for the architect of that project, which will be called Pico Hall). Gensler has already designed the majority of AEG's L.A. Live development in the area, including its Ritz-Carlton/JW Marriott and its Regal Cinemas. Meanwhile the beleaguered NFL may not even have a season next year, so we think it might be occupied with other things for a while. Stay tuned.