AEG Selects Gensler To Design Proposed Events Center In Downtown L.A.
AEG has selected Gensler to design Farmers Field, the $1B NFL stadium proposed for downtown L.A. Gensler, an international firm with 36 offices worldwide, has not designed a pro football facility, but it did develop L.A. Live’s The Ritz-Carlton Hotel & Residences and JW Marriott across the street from the Farmers Field site. In addition, Gensler Dir of Sports & Development Ron Turner was one of three principals at NBBJ when that company designed the AEG-owned Staples Center and two NFL facilities, Paul Brown Stadium and Lincoln Financial Field. Gensler was chosen over experienced NFL stadium designers HKS and HNTB because of the firm’s familiarity with the site tied to its work at L.A. Live, coupled with Turner’s knowledge of the location during design and construction of Staples Center. That is an important distinction for AEG as it moves quickly to file an environmental impact review for the project by the end of ‘11, said Icon Venue Group President & CEO Tim Romani, whose company is the project manager. The state of California requires those reviews for all new construction projects, and the process can take up to 18 months to be completed. AEG’s goal is to fast-track the process and have it filed by October, Romani said. “These are compact surroundings and knowing how this campus works will accelerate what we need to get done,” he said.
CONFIDENT OF WORKING WITHIN BUDGET: Turner, whose relationship with AEG President & CEO Tim Leiweke goes back about 25 years to when both were working in K.C., is confident Gensler’s team can design a 1.75-million-square-foot stadium with 72,000 fixed seats within AEG’s budget of $725M in hard construction costs. The $1B total cost includes infrastructure upgrades but does not cover the cost to build new parking garages and rebuild the West Hall portion of the L.A. Convention Center that would be torn down for the new stadium. “We feel comfortable we can not only get it done but beat that budget. That’s our goal,” Turner said. “The unique thing about this project is it is not just a stadium. It is so integrated into the [adjacent] convention center that every event will be utilizing pieces of both buildings.” Gensler is looking at several options for the roof design at Farmers Field. The final drawings could include a fixed roof or a retractable system, Turner said.
LOOKING FOR CONVENTION CENTER ARCHITECT: In conjunction with Farmers Field, Icon Venue Group, co-owned by AEG, is acting on behalf of the city to hire an architect to design the convention center retrofit. Icon has received seven proposals to design the new West Hall, a project funded by $350M in bonds issued by the city under AEG’s plan to build the stadium. Gensler and HNTB, a firm with extensive experience designing convention centers, both submitted proposals. AEG/Icon and city officials will work together to select a designer for that job in the coming weeks, Romani said. The next step is to issue a proposal for a stadium construction manager, but no date has been determined for when that particular RFP is sent out, Romani said. It could be sometime this summer, industry sources said. All things considered, including the resolution of the NFL lockout and a team relocating to L.A., AEG officials say they remain on track to open Farmers Field by the start of the ‘15 season. Romani: “We could have drawings ready by early next year to get started with site work and start the process for constructing the stadium in the first quarter.”