Tonight, thousands of football fans will flock towards the Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, San Francisco for the much-anticipated Super Bowl 50 featuring the Carolina Panthers versus the Denver Broncos. It will be the venue's ultimate test since it opened in 2014, and architects are weighing in on its design.
Designed by the internationally acclaimed firm HNTB, the stadium was eight years and $1.2 billion in the making. It takes a cubist exterior, what artists call an irregular dodecagon. Straight lines and steel frames are used, mainly because of earthquake concerns. Understandably so, as San Francisco is known to be a seismic zone.
"It's a steel structure, so you want segments rather than curves," chief designer Tim Cahill tells Curbed. "We wanted it to be simple, geometric, and non-retro."
The support columns stand 32 feet apart and sloped outward towards the upper deck, ensuring the structure's strength and compactability.
"The plates, the tie rods, it's all right there," says Cahill.
Come game night, the stadium's seating capacity will be maxed out. According to its website, the 1.85-million-square-foot arena can hold only 68,500 seats, but it can be expanded to 75,000. The designers aren't worried, however. Cahill insists that all audiences, wherever they are seated, will have a clear view of the game as there's "no bad seat in the house."
Acoustics have been taken in consideration also. Since it is an open-air arena, the designers put materials to reflect the sound.
"Putting all that glass and those hard surfaces on one side helps contain a lot of the noise the fans can make," project manager Lanson Nichols explains.
Of course, the audience's overall experience is also part of the stadium's design, and its architects made sure to include restaurants, shops, and other entertainment stores around its complex. There's also an art gallery inside, featuring paintings and works of San Francisco's best local artists.
Additionally, Levi's Stadium also boasts of being environmentally friendly and sustainable. One of its most unique features is the green roof of the suite tower, west side of the stadium. It holds three solar bridges that includes hundreds of solar panels.
Last year, Levi's Stadium was hailed as "Sports Facility of the Year" by Sports Business Journal, and "Venue of the Year" by the Stadium Business Awards in Barcelona, Spain. These accolades will surely be put on the line as it caters to the biggest game in this year's football season.