First Look: Farmers Field

New 'deployable' roof at L.A. stadium to be first of its kind

  • by Jessica Boudevin
  • Published: November 15, 2011

There will be another 20 months of design work on Farmers Field, the NFL stadium planned for downtown Los Angeles, but that didn't stop renderings from being unveiled at a press conference Nov. 15 at L.A. Live.

Tim Romani, principal in charge and president & CEO of ICON Venue Group, which is managing the Farmers Field project, called the stadium, "the project I've been waiting to come along." 

The project includes the redesign and rebuild of the West Hall of the Los Angeles Convention Center, which will be incorporated as a contiguous space with the stadium. Total cost is $1.1 billion. Farmers Field alone will cost approximately $700 million and seat 72,000 people.

Ron Turner, lead architect and principal at Gensler, the architecture firm chosen to design the project, explained the new renderings. The interior view shows the field, which will also provide 140,000 sq. ft. of additional exhibit space. With the field, the L.A. Convention Center will total approximately 1.1 million sq. ft.

2FARMERS_FIELD_-_EXTERIOR_-_NORTH_FACADE_-_VIEW_AT_NIGHT.jpg

Gensler is exploring a pillow-skin system for the stadium roof enclosure. "The roof is transparent in areas, which fosters a relationship between the people and the building," said Turner. "Being able to see the activity inside the building draws people inside even when they are long distances away."

"It would be a mistake to build Farmers Field with only a hole in the roof," Turner said, adding that "football is meant to be played outdoors — especially in a climate like Los Angeles."

Even with the transparency of the roof and some of the surrounding structure, the ETFE material can be etched to provide shade and color. 

Romani said that these types of materials are useful because it is important that the stadium feel light and airy, even when the roof is in place. 

Even though the structure is undeniably enormous, Turner said that the ariel view "shows how the new venue fits comfortably into the district." Part of the reason it fits is that the field is situated 40 feet below street level. 

3FARMERS_FIELD_-_EXTERIOR_-_AERIAL_-_VIEW_WITH_OPEN_ROOF.jpg

The above rendering shows the roof open. "Farmers Field will host every kind of event out there," said Turner. "It's not a venue that needs to have a roof that will open or close within minutes."

Gensler is considering various ideas for how to create the deployable roof, including air chambers or an integrated cable network. They decided against a retractable roof because, when open, it would need to extend over the top of the Convention Center, limiting opportunities for expansion. 

Right now, the prevailing idea seems to be a roof that can be laid out on the field and raised into position. Romani said that the roof will "take a mater of hours to deploy," adding that, "the climate in Los Angeles is very predictable, so there will never be a rush to deploy the roof anyway."

4FARMERS_FIELD_-_EXTERIOR_-_STREET_-_VIEW_FROM_ST.jpg

The transparent ETFE material has been used for the Aquatic Center in Bejing, China, and Allianz Stadium in Munich, Germany. "The pillow-skin system is a proven solution for long span roof enclosures," said Turner.

He added that the openness and transparency will require less air conditioning, making for a more pleasant environment.

"There aren't many places you could do this," said Romani, about the open-air feeling and deployable roof. With the weight of snow it would not work in colder climates, and even in warm weather locations like Florida there are hurricanes and winds.

Turner said that the press conference was scheduled because "this is where we are today — it's a concept that ICON and AEG believe is the right way to go, and we thought it was important that the press and the public understand where we're headed."

Interviewed for this article: Tim Romani, (303) 796-2655; Ron Turner, (213) 327-3600

  • by Jessica Boudevin
  • Published: November 15, 2011
event photos