CENTERSTAGE Ready for the Olympics
It’s a well-known fact that the world of prestigious construction projects loves superlatives. Projects that aren’t reaching previously unattained dimensions quickly fall through the screen of the attention industry. The new SoFi Stadium, which has 70,000 regular seats that can be supplemented to make a total of 100,000, is far removed from the biggest sports stadiums of American football. Richard Bach, the Senior Vice President of the HOCHTIEF subsidiary Turner Construction Company for the southwest region of North America, doesn’t see this as a reason for false modesty. “This is a world-class stadium,” says Bach, who is in charge of the construction process.
Besides, it’s highly unique. The uniqueness begins with the fact that the new home of the Rams and Chargers football teams is not only a real sports stadium but also a gigantic multifunctional complex. Under the sail-shaped roof structure, which consists of 302 high-tech panels, some of which are movable, there’s room for several event venues for sports, concerts, shopping, and recreation.
In addition to the actual stadium, whose playing field was lowered by 33 meters due to the approach path to LAX Airport, the roof also arches over an event space for up to 6,000 guests. The total area of this space, which was built on the site of a former horse racecourse, is twice as big as Vatican City. It even has a lake of its own. And an area called the Hollywood Park Campus offers retail shops, catering outlets, and offices. As a result, a visit to the SoFi Stadium becomes an all-round recreational event.
A genuinely superlative feature makes this prestigious construction project on the outskirts of Los Angeles instantly recognizable. The Oculus, an LED video display in the form of a 110-meter-long oval ring, seems to hover above the artificial turf in spite of its huge weight of almost 1,000 tons. The Oculus provides spectators at every point in the stands with brilliantly sharp images formed by about 80 million pixels, as well as outstanding acoustics from 260 speakers. The high-resolution video images can be projected on a continuous loop.
“Absolutely unique,” says Richard Bach. He’s also referring to the spectacular achievement of the construction workers, up to 3,250 of them at any one time, who worked to move about seven million cubic meters of earth over a period of four years. Among other things, they created a structure around the stadium to protect it against earthquakes despite the tectonically active geology. This mechanically stabilized earth wall (MSE) consists of prefabricated elements that are anchored in the ground by means of steel cables made in Germany. The MSE technology not only saved time and costs but also made an airy and transparent design possible. Richard Bach proudly calls it “a stadium without walls.” And because the roof, which reflects light as well as being transparent, rests on 36 freestanding concrete pillars, the facility is cooled largely without air conditioning. It thus easily fulfills California’s stringent environmental regulations. Bach recalls, “The client, Rams owner Stan Kroenke, wanted something airy, open, and modern and that’s what he got.” Even though the first few games were played in the stadium without any spectators due to the coronavirus pandemic, it’s easy to imagine the opportunities offered by this stadium built by Turner and its partner Aecom. At the very latest, during the opening event of the Olympic Games in 2028 the whole world will be admiring this edifice.
Text: Jan Freitag