Sports and entertainment venues designed by HKS architects have won praises for their architecture, financial success, and distinctive spectator experiences. The structures designed by HKS set a benchmark for what patrons should expect from international venues. SoFi stadium, a project designed by them, has been one of the most celebrated sports and entertainment centers, envisioned by E. Stanley Kroenke, who is the owner, and chairman of the Los Angeles Rams.
The challenge was to create a revolutionary sports and entertainment center as a civic gesture in Los Angeles, the world’s entertainment capital, Inglewood, California, The first indoor-outdoor stadium to be built, the open-air SoFi Stadium, is the largest in the NFL (National Football League) at 3.1 million square feet (288,500 square meters) and costs about $3.4 billion. Three cutting-edge venues, including the 70,000-seat SoFi Stadium, the 2.5-acre covered outdoor American Airlines Plaza, and a 6,000-seat concert theatre, are housed under one enormous roof canopy and can accommodate a variety of events at once. The former location of Hollywood Park Racetrack is now home to SoFi.
To provide a true expression and experience of Southern California, SoFi Stadium’s architecture was informed by comprehensive research into the region’s industries, architecture, lifestyle, climate, geography, and landscape. The stadium’s distinctive architecture, which symbolizes the area’s indoor-outdoor lifestyle, is defined by the vast coastline and the power and beauty of the Pacific Ocean.
A translucent, independently supported canopy resembling ocean waves encloses the adjacent pedestrian plaza, a performance venue, and the stadium itself. The stadium’s single-layer ethylene tetrafluoroethylene (ETFE) roof ensures the continuity of connectivity to the outside world and floods the venue with natural light for the variety of events that SoFi hosts, regardless of the weather. The design of the stadium allows outdoor connectivity from all four sides of the stadium and regulates passive cooling strategies. A 65% frit pattern on the ETFE film shields visitors from the sun and lowers solar gain into space. To encourage ventilation in the stadium and a comfortable atmosphere for fans, the roof also has many operable panels dispersed around the perimeter of the ETFE that can open and close depending on the weather. This also encourages water harvesting by percolating through channels between the panels and simultaneously utilizing rainwater for the on-site landscape.
The 2.2 million pound Oculus scoreboard, which was perhaps one of the most interesting and pricey fixtures in the stadium, was hung in the open-air design of SoFi Stadium, which unfortunately came with a risk of letting birds into the stadium. Thankfully, the designers at HKS understood that the Oculus would be a perfect place for birds to take hold of and build nests. HKS proposed the inclusion of Bird Barrier StealthNet in the initial plans as a solution. Bird Barrier provides a broad range of bird control methods using the StealthNet Bird Exclusion system.
Another challenge was put forward by the Federal Aviation Association’s (FAA) to the design team was height restrictions because of the stadium’s three-mile proximity to LAX. But this challenge turned into one of the most noticeable features. The stadium’s seating bowl is 100 feet below the existing grade, which is around two-to-three times deeper than most comparable multi-use venues. Instead of using the conventional set of elevators, escalators, stairs, and ramps to help spectators get to their seats and concourses, HKS designed an indoor/outdoor meandering sequence of routes that lead fans through aesthetically pleasing planted landscapes filled with amenities along the way.
A significant fault line, known as the Inglewood fault line, which runs very close to Newport, posed challenges in the design. The structural engineers adopted a radically different strategy to address this challenge. By building a cavity that encircles the stadium’s seating bowl like a ring, they entirely cut off the stadium from its surroundings on the ground. In this way, the bowl is cut off from its surroundings and the ceiling. The roof is also not connected to the earth since seismic isolators are at both ends of the pillars upon which the roof is supported, allowing each to move independently.
The numerous areas of SoFi Stadium were created to accommodate a range of user preferences. These spaces include more than 12 separate club spaces, 7 suite experiences, and a dual-sided elliptical video board with an integrated distributed sound system named Oculus. It’s the closest a fan can get to the action in an NFL facility, where the guests may enjoy a beverage with panoramic views of downtown or hang out in an immersive football experience just behind the players while they get details of the game with a single gaze on the video board.
Like the flowing design of SoFi, the venue is filled with fresh and intriguing discoveries around every corner while maintaining a familiar and distinctly laid-back Southern California atmosphere. This stadium has been honored with the 2021 AIA|LA Game Changer Award and the Prix Versailles World Architecture 2021.