Here are three bold designs from winning teams that completely reimagine the Los Angeles Convention Center
The Los Angeles Convention Center is desperately in need of an overhaul. Architect Charles Luckman designed the original boxy structure in 1971 and James Ingo Freed added the glassy Annex in 1997. Today, both buildings lack the square footage and amenities to add up to a competitive venue. Centers in Las Vegas or Chicago eclipse LA’s meager 870,000 square feet by double or triple square footage. Indeed, in the decades since the venue was constructed the whole approach to convention center design has changed.
While the Los Angeles Bureau of Engineering moves ahead with its competition for a $350 million renovation and expansion of the Los Angeles Convention Center, the NFL is threatening to make those plans obsolete. According to NBC Sports, a league source has confirmed that the NFL will send one or even two teams back to LA within the next one to two years. Two favorites include the St. Louis Rams and the Oakland Raiders. If the NFL comes to town then AEG’s plans for a new downtown stadium (by Gensler) and convention center expansion (by Populous) may follow. Of course a team could just as easily move to a site being floated near Hollywood Park, in Chavez Ravine, and in City of Industry. As of now the city has shortlisted AC Martin/LMN, Gensler/Lehrer Architects, and HMC/Populous for the convention center. No word from the Bureau of Engineering at this point. Stay tuned as we try to make sense of all this.
The Los Angeles Bureau of Engineering’s competition for a $350 million expansion and renovation of the LA Convention Center has been narrowed down to three final teams. And they are: AC Martin/LMN, Gensler/Lehrer Architects, and HMC/Populous. According to the project’s Task Order Solicitation (PDF), the teams will each receive $200,000 to “develop and present conceptual designs,” including models, renderings, plans, cost estimates, phasing plans, etc. Designs are due on December 8.
In recent weeks we’ve seen a number of important developments in Downtown Los Angeles, like the groundbreaking of the Arquitectonica-designed apartments on Grand Avenue, and the topping out of The Broad next door. The red-hot area continues to make headlines, from the advancement of its upcoming streetcar to the murkiness of its proposed football stadium.
Once considered downtown LA’s central park, the problematic 4.5-acre Pershing Square may soon be slated for a few welcome changes. Councilman José Huizar of District 14 recently told LA Downtown News that sports and entertainment company Anschutz Entertainment Group (AEG) has committed $700,000 seed funding to re-think the 164-year-old park. The money is part of a community improvement package AEG had agreed to in order to create a football stadium in Los Angeles.
Almost two years after the idea was first floated, AEG and Gensler’s 72,000 seat, $1.2 billion stadium proposal was approved by LA City Council on Friday. The vote in favor of the project’s environmental impact report (EIR) clears the way for the developer to seek an NFL team and for Gensler’s steel-winged Farmers Field to move ahead. The stadium had experienced some controversy lately as news spread that AEG was putting itself up for sale. But that didn’t deter the council, which voted 12-0 to move ahead with the plan.
The stadium, and an adjacent convention center that was recently panned by an architectural commission, is being paid for privately, although funds are coming from $275 million in tax-exempt bonds. Another proposal by developer Ed Roski and architect Dan Meis, located in the City of Industry, is also trying to lure a team. Let the games begin.
LA Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s “Vision Team,” a group of eight architects consulting on the city’s planned football stadium and convention center expansion have issued a damning report on the latter project, reports the LA Daily News. The center is being designed by Populous and developed by AEG. “This is not good city design,” Norman Millar, dean of Woodbury University School of Architecture, and a Vision Team member, told the Daily News this week. Among the team’s complaints, they worry about having visitors enter the new hall through a dark passage created by bridging the building over Pico Boulevard. The team also frets about possible fumes under the tunnel, the configuration of the center’s huge ballroom, and the amount of natural light that would enter the building. The Vision Team also includes Hitoshi Abe, chairman of Architecture & Urban Design at UCLA; Scott Johnson of Johnson Fain; Joseph Coriaty, a partner at Frederick Fisher and Partner; and Paul Danna, principal at SOM. The group has met at least three times. Villaraigosa’s spokesman Peter Sanders told the Daily News that the mayor knew about the Vision Team’s concerns. “We believe we have the best plan given the constraints that exist,” Sanders wrote. The project’s EIR goes before LA City Council tomorrow. Read More
Yesterday AEG unveiled its design for a 200,000 square foot convention center expansion in downtown Los Angeles. Replacing a wing of the LA Convention Center, the new structure, called LACOEX (LA Convention and Exhibition Hall) and designed by Populous (which, it so happens, is also designing Majestic Realty’s proposed stadium in the City of Industry) the elevated center would stretch over Pico Boulevard and connect directly to the company’s planned football stadium, the Gensler-designed Farmers Field.
The highly graphic, glass paneled exterior would be complemented by restaurants and patios outside the base of the hall,. The plan, of course, won’t go forward until LA gets a new NFL team for the new stadium/convention complex. Look for an update with more information soon.
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. Read More
In a breathless press release, developer AEG and its partners have revealed that they will be unveiling renderings from the three finalists for the proposed downtown LA stadium tomorrow evening at 5pm (December 15).
According to Sports Business Journal, the three firms chosen via an RFP are HKS, HNTB, and Gensler (who designed the Ritz Carlton/JW Marriott where the press conference will be held.. hmm..).
The stadium’s proposed location is the site of the LA Convention Center’s West Hall. We will of course share the renderings with you after the presser, so stay tuned.
Of course, LA still has no football team, nor does it have an approved location for a stadium. But this is Hollywood! We know how to dream!
In other downtown news, City Council on Thursday will vote on the fate of the proposed Wilshire Grand redevelopment, which would include two large towers designed by AC Martin. Stay tuned everybody!