L.A. Has Designs On Olympics

Los Angeles officials and architects unveiled plans to gussy up the historic Coliseum in time for a visit from the U.S. Olympic Committee, in town to evaluate the two-time host city’s bid for a third Summer Games in 2016.

But local reaction to the proposal – a temporary structure that would fit over the existing stadium – has been only lukewarm, to be charitable.

The Coliseum, which hosted previous Summer Olympic Games in 1932 and 1984, is a historic landmark and can’t be physically altered. Los Angeles, without a professional football team since 1994, has been in no great hurry to build a new facility without immediate prospects for a permanent tenant.

So, like its Chicago rival committee, L.A. organizers are pitching a temporary solution – a design that features 204 luxury suites hung from a network of external towers, designed by David Jay Flood Architecture.

In Chicago, architects released renderings of spectacular enhancements to Soldier Field for its Olympics bid. In the Big Orange, not so much.

After the architectural renderings were released February 22nd, a critic at the Los Angeles Times wrote: "If Flood’s design spells out anything it is e-n-n-u-i."

The release of the renderings, which the Times called "slapdash," in the final days of buildup to the all-engrossing Academy Awards, was considered an indication of how little the city cares about winning its Olympics bid. "Flood’s renderings have emerged as the perfect visual symbol of our general lack of interest," the Times’ Christopher Hawthorne wrote.

But design is in the eye of the beholder, and considering the needs of the Olympic Committee and the city’s desire to keep costs in check, the proposal certainly fills the bill. And city officials and Olympics boosters are pleased with the plan.

"In 2016, the newly designed Coliseum will glow spectacularly," L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said in a statement.

"[The Coliseum] is already very, very good," Los Angeles bid committee chairman Barry Sanders told the Times. "But it doesn’t have a sunshade. It doesn’t have luxury suites and it will. But is it good? This is great."

The $112 million price tag for the temporary superstructure includes $20 million for installation of a running track, which would be covered by Olympic revenues, Sanders told the Times.

The temporary structure and suites would virtually "float" over the existing stadium’s neoclassical bowl. A series of supporting towers called a "space frame" would line the stadium’s periphery; vinyl fabric stretched between would sport the Olympics five-ring logo and other designs, creating a giant sun visor for fans in the seats.

The timing of the proposed construction favors the locals: The Coliseum’s only tenant – the University of Southern California football team – would wind down its 2015 season before the façade would be installed, and the structure would remain in place until the end of the 2016 college football season.

USOC officials were to arrive in Los Angeles for their official visit March 1st before visiting Chicago March 5-7. A decision between the L.A. and Chicago bids is expected in mid-April. The winner of the U.S. bid will then face off between international destination cities including Rio de Janeiro, Tokyo, Rome and Milan.