Who is the SoFi Stadium architect?

The view from the lake at SoFi Stadium in Los Angeles Wednesday, Feb. 9, 2022.
The view from the lake at SoFi Stadium in Los Angeles on Feb. 9 as workers make last-minute preparations for Super Bowl LVI.
(Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

SoFi Stadium began allowing fans into the site last spring, but Sunday’s Super Bowl LVI, with an expected global viewership of more than 145 million, is in many ways the venue’s true debut. And what a debut it will be.

The 3.1-million-square-foot $5-billion arena has plenty of superlatives attached to it. It’s the largest stadium in the NFL. It’s the league’s first indoor-outdoor stadium. And the stands’ steep vertical pitch allows fans to get startlingly close to the action. Hell, if you bathe in money and can afford one of the field cabanas, you could very well have a defensive lineman land in your beer.

The stadium’s design is unique. Tucked into the earth so as not to interfere with the flight path of aircraft at nearby LAX, its scale, on approach, feels more intimate than a venue that seats 70,000. Moreover, its curling roof — which protects not only the field but also an adjacent plaza and the 6,000-seat YouTube Theater — is fritted and allows light to penetrate even as it offers protection from the sun. Instead of the usual stadium design with dreary passageways lined with concessions, SoFi’s open concourses allow spectators to pick up a hot dog while they keep an eye on the game. Everywhere, gardens embrace and surround the public areas. Adjacent to the site is the attractive Lake Park.


SUPER BOWL LVI LIVE UPDATES: Rams vs. Cincinnati Bengals at SoFi Stadium


Sounds great. Who is the architect behind SoFi, the NFL’s first indoor-outdoor stadium?

SoFi comes courtesy of a team of more than eight dozen architects and designers led by Lance Evans of HKS, a global architectural firm with offices in Los Angeles. HKS came to the project with other major NFL arenas under its belt, including a behemoth arched stadium with a retractable roof for the Dallas Cowboys in Arlington, Texas, and a glassy, angular venue — from certain angles it resembles an iceberg — for the Minnesota Vikings in Minneapolis. The mission at SoFi was to come up with great experiences “at every price point,” says Evans. “It is an accessible and attainable thing to see an event at SoFi. We distributed that vertically.” Indeed, the playing field sits 100 feet below grade. So when spectators enter the stadium, they don’t enter at field level; they enter through concourses two or three levels above it. It was designed this way to get around the restrictions of the site being on the flight path for LAX. READ MORE about the architecture challenges and why the stadium has the best cheap seats in the NFL.

Architecture firm HKS designed SoFi Stadium so that even the nosebleed seats deliver a terrific experience. The urbanism around it? Not so much.


Where are the 5 best spots at SoFi to admire the stadium’s architecture — and its views?

SoFi is a stadium that takes transitional spaces and turns them into a main event: Walkways, stairs, bridges and escalators continuously offer strategic slivers of view toward the field, the Jumbotron, terraced gardens or the general city environs. Particularly dramatic is the northern entrance, off of Touchdown Drive, where the ride-hailing dropoff point is located. And though it’s hard to imagine anything named American Airlines nailing an arrival so well, the American Airlines Plaza, at SoFi Stadium’s southern point, makes landing at this stadium feel practically bucolic. Spectators approaching from the southwest can meander around Lake Park to this plaza, which functions as one of the key points of entry to SoFi. Then there are the views. Who needs premium seating when you can get your game with a side of tasty SoCal landscapes? One of the best spots at SoFi is accessible to anybody with a ticket — from the (nameless) boomerang-shaped bar on the southwestern edge of the stadium, you can see Lake Park and the Palos Verdes Peninsula in the distance. On a very clear day, you may even catch glimpses of the ocean and Catalina Island. READ MORE to discover five of the best spots for catching the view or simply hanging out.


SoFi offers terraced gardens and vistas of the San Gabriels and Palos Verdes. Here are 5 places to soak up the best views and design twists.


People keep talking about the stadium’s park and landscaping. Who is behind SoFi’s landscape design?

Unlike countless other stadium projects, SoFi involved the landscape team from the get-go. That means that its landscape isn’t a sad afterthought but integral to the venue’s sinuous architecture by global firm HKS, as well as its environs. Mia Lehrer and her team at Studio-MLA, the L.A.-based firm she founded, are behind the meticulous landscape design for the stadium and its adjacent Lake Park. Studio-MLA has of late become L.A.’s go-to landscape design firm, working on landscapes for Dodger Stadium, Banc of California Stadium, the Annenberg Community Beach House and Beverly Gardens Park — in addition to a bevy of commercial, corporate and residential developments. Currently on the drawing boards is landscape work for the under-construction Lucas Museum of Narrative Art. Lehrer’s studio also has transformed schoolyards — historically designed as vast expanses of pitiless asphalt — into greener spaces, and for decades she has worked, in official and unofficial capacities, to reimagine the concrete-embalmed Los Angeles River. READ MORE about Lehrer, who was born in San Salvador, and the ways she and her team are reshaping the look of Los Angeles.

Los Angeles landscape designer Mia Lehrer is working to peeling back the city’s concrete. Her latest project brings parkland to SoFi Stadium.


Where is the Black public art that SoFi Stadium promised?

There are a lot of things SoFi gets right, including the architecture and groundbreaking landscape design. But the art program remains incomplete. Two major installations — by a pair of prominent Black artists, no less — appear to be stuck in limbo. Also nowhere to be seen: Albert Stewart’s historic sculpture of Swaps, the record-breaking thoroughbred that won the 1955 Kentucky Derby. The bronze, which shows legendary jockey Bill Shoemaker on the galloping steed, once occupied pride of place at the old Hollywood Park Racetrack.

The stadium is not bereft of art. Already in place is a massive architectonic piece by Ned Kahn that covers the façade of a parking structure to the west of the stadium, as well as graphic works by Erik den Breejen and Katie Shapiro inside the stadium elevators, and a large-scale wall piece by Sandeep Mukherjee that inhabits the interiors of the adjacent YouTube Theater.


But with the Super Bowl upon us, in a stadium that sits at the heart of a city indelibly linked to Black culture in the 20th century, there are no completed works by a Black artist. I repeat: none. READ MORE about why many Black artist commissions for SoFi Stadium are in limbo.

SoFi Stadium is supposed to have a great public art program, but works by Black artists are in limbo. Also missing: the historic sculpture of Swaps, the record-setting thoroughbred from Hollywood Park.


What other NFL stadium designs were planned before SoFi?

Before the Rams and Chargers moved to Los Angeles and Stan Kroenke’s SoFi Stadium became reality, numerous groups had big dreams — and big renderings — to lure the NFL back after the Rams and Raiders left town in 1995, from Michael Ovitz’s “hacienda” stadium in Carson to a futuristic complex that was to be known as Farmer’s Field in downtown Los Angeles. READ MORE about the never-built stadium designs that were planned before SoFi.

Before Stan Kroenke and SoFi Stadium, numerous groups tried to lure the NFL back to Los Angeles by proposing spiffy stadiums. Here’s how some looked.


Want to know more about SoFi Stadium, from its food to parking?

How many people can SoFi Stadium seat? What’s the seating map like? Are the seats comfortable? Does it have air conditioning? What’s up with the roof? And what about the food and parking? Read our FULL COVERAGE of SoFi Stadium.


If the Super Bowl has you wondering about SoFi’s stadium capacity, seating, food, roof and other features, we’ve got answers.