The SoFi Stadium, designed by HKS Architects, resides in the heart of the world’s entertainment capital, Los Angeles. The newest venue for the National Football League (NFL) and host of the 2022 Super Bowl, the stadium claimed fame as a 298-acre sport and entertainment destination located at the site of the former Hollywood Park Racetrack and Los Angeles Forum. Described as the first ‘indoor-outdoor stadium,’ it opened in September 2020 at the cost of $5.5 billion, making it the most expensive stadium ever built. Through its architecture, the SoFi Stadium was designed not only to serve as a sports venue but also to enhance the Los Angeles area’s reputation as one of the best entertainment destinations in the world. The stadium pushes boundaries in the architectural industry by being an iconic civic gesture.

The SoFi Stadium by HKS - Sheet1
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Amenities

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The panoramic roof of the project covers the 70,000-seat SoFi Stadium (expandable to 100,000), the 2.5-acre covered outdoor American Airlines Plaza, and a 6,000-seat performance venue. Stepping beyond the typical idea of a stadium, the SoFi Stadium can host multiple entertainment events simultaneously. There are more than 12 separate club spaces, 7 suite experiences, 260 luxury suites, and 13,000 premium seats. The diverse areas of SoFi Stadium were tailored to accommodate a range of user preferences. In the concourse, a one-of-a-kind 360-degree dual-sided elliptical video board with an integrated distributed sound system has been suspended from the roof. The picture on the video screen is so vivid, thanks to cutting-edge technology, that fans will be tempted to watch the entire game on it rather than the live action. 

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Design Challenge

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The stadium is only three miles from LAX, and its proximity to the airport places certain constraints on surrounding development. The height restriction imposed by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) was the most prominent design challenge, prompting the design team to devise an inventive and resourceful solution. The seating bowl was lowered 100 feet below ground level to accommodate the height restriction. To navigate the depth, terraced walkways, staircases, and ramps have been provided from the plaza to the concourse, with engaging activities along the way. The rest of the stadium’s features were designed so that the depth of the seating bowl did not become a disadvantage and created an open environment for the users.

Formation Of The Roof

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Because of the proximity of SoFi Stadium to LAX, the designers imagined how the structure would appear from above. This resulted in the undulating wave-inspired roof, which embraces the California coast while making an eye-catching impression on the observer. The top is actually an asymmetrical canopy, offering a unique experience from any vantage point. Staying true to its description of an indoor-outdoor stadium, the roof is supported by columns and is open on three sides with no vertical enclosures, allowing connectivity to the outdoors and natural light to flood the venue. It also provides an easy passage to the coastal breeze inside the stadium. The massive canopy weighs 500 million pounds and is truly a sight to behold.

Material Innovation

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The semi-translucent canopy is a wondrous construction comprising 35,000 anodized aluminum panels assembled using 17 miles of cable on the periphery. Each of these aluminum panels have a unique geometry. HKS’ Laboratory for INtensive Exploration (LINE) developed a custom computational tool that could handle the panels’ complex geometry and generate a massive digital model. Whereas the central translucent portion above the concourse is made of a single layer of fritted panels of ethylene tetrafluoroethylene (ETFE). They have a 65% frit pattern which lowers solar heat gain while also allowing natural light penetration. It gives an unobstructed view to the people inside, blurring the boundary between indoors and outdoors. Some of these panels are openable to make the stadium more adaptable to the climate and optimize the comfort level for the users. The roof can also be turned into a message board with the help of an LED system, making it a giant television screen for the people flying over the stadium and from LAX.

Seismic Solution

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The Southern Californian landscape is prone to earthquakes due to the region’s faulty seismic lines. The sweeping canopy covering the stadium is supported by 37 massive earthquake-resistant columns to solve this problem. Seismic isolators are installed at the point of connection between the roof and the columns. A retaining wall in the form of a ring surrounds the recessed seating bowl, separating it from the canopy. In case of an earthquake, the roof will respond independently, and the stadium’s movement will be absorbed by the 12′ wide and 100′ deep seismic moat.

Creation Of An Ecosystem

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HKS collaborated with Studio-MLA to create an inviting landscape for the visitors that represents the diverse ecology of Southern California. They concocted a fascinating palette of plants using various elements from the Mediterranean biome. This has been implemented on the terraced spaces along the walkways, staircases, and ramps. A walk around the stadium can be an educational experience on the various microclimates of the region. 

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For a flourishing landscape, sensible use of rainwater has been kept in mind considering the problem of water scarcity in the area. Rainwater runoff is collected by the lake adjacent to the stadium, as well as bioswales, stormwater drains and rolling arroyos. It is then filtered by the wetland plants and soil before being used to irrigate the landscape. The project’s sensitivity towards the environment and responsible use of resources is a rarity and should be an inspiration for all future projects.

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The SoFi Stadium provides a unique immersive experience for visiting fans. The site is expected to generate even more revenue in the future with retail and office space, 1,500 residences, a hotel, and more than 20 acres of parks adjacent to the stadium. In addition, the venue has already been booked for several significant events, including the Opening and Closing Ceremonies of the Summer Olympic Games in 2028. SoFi is well on its way to becoming the ultimate entertainment destination.

References:

HKS Architects (2022). SoFi Stadium An Unrivaled Sports & Entertainment Destination & Homage to Southern California. [online]. Available at: www.hksinc.com/what-we-do/case-studies/sofi-stadium/ [Accessed 26 October 2022].

Kathleen M. O’Donnell (2022). SoFi Stadium: An Ecosystem Fit for a Super Bowl Ring. [online]. (Last updated 20 May 2015). Available at: www.hksinc.com/our-news/articles/design-for-ecosystems-at-sofi-stadium/ [Accessed 26 October 2022].

ArchDaily (2022). SoFi Stadium / HKS. [online]. (Last updated 22 April 2022). Available at: www.archdaily.com/980581/sofi-stadium-hks [Accessed 26 October 2022].

Author

Muktika is an Architect with a strong inclination towards humanitarian architecture. Her goal is to use her skills to uplift lives and strengthen communities. She is an avid reader and traveler with a knack for architectural philosophy.

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