YouTube Theater Sets the Stage in Southern California

07 February 2022
South exterior 1 youtube theater

Originally published in the Winter 2021/22 issue of PanStadia & Arena Management


Structural Principal and Project Manager Ryan Anderson discusses YouTube Theater. 

YouTube Theater, part of the sprawling Hollywood Park, is a 6,000-seat, 227,000 foot venue that combines state-of-the-art technology with luxury guest amenities. Developed by Los Angeles Rams Owner/Chairman E. Stanley Kroenke, YouTube Theater is designed to host a multitude of events, including concerts, comedy shows, esports tournaments, award shows, community gatherings, and more.

Tucked into the southern corner of the roof canopy that also stretches over SoFi Stadium and American Airlines Plaza, this world-class, intimate performance venue will undoubtedly attract high-level entertainment to Inglewood.

Integrated Approach
Designed by HKS Architects, YouTube Theater fits seamlessly underneath — and is structurally intertwined with — the SoFi Stadium roof canopy.

Serving as structural engineer, our team was tasked with the construction of the theatre after the canopy and SoFi Stadium’s completion, presenting seismic response and integration challenges. The site is just 500 yards from a mapped seismic fault.

“YouTube Theater embodies a powerful, yet elegant, form,” says Michelle Stevenson, Senior Project Architect with HKS. “Its’ sweeping balconies and curvilinear façade integrate seamlessly with the canopy floating above. Excavation began on the theatre while the canopy was still under construction, so the HKS and Walter P Moore team worked together to craft a creative and flexible solution that is both functional and beautiful.”

The venue is not only underneath the SoFi Stadium canopy but is also integrated with 11 columns that support the stadium canopy.

The canopy columns are seismically integrated with YouTube Theater’s below-grade structure, and the YouTube Theater structure serves as an extended foundation for the columns. Additionally, by utilising triple friction pendulum isolators on top of the columns, the already completed canopy was able to remain without any retrofitting or strengthening. Finally, the steel-framed, above-grade portion of YouTube Theater utilised buckling restrained brace frames. It was designed in a manner so that its seismic movement was harmonious and not impacted by the stadium canopy columns.

These approaches were validated by nonlinear time history analysis of the combined structures. They proved to be a successful approach and achieved the architectural vision while not impacting the SoFi Stadium canopy.

Open Spaces
YouTube Theater capitalises on the mild Southern California climate by using multiple cantilevered exterior balconies and open spaces to offer a combination of indoor and outdoor spaces for patrons. The large, curved glass façade floods natural light into the pre-event spaces. This also allows for native planting and landscaping even within the lobby.

The curved transparent facades of YouTube Theater presented several challenges, which include inward inclination of the glazing, a faceted curved plan profile, and a long-span across two levels that is near the limits of structural glass walls. The design and construction teams collaborated to create a customised facade solution that achieved the highly transparent design intent.

Walter P Moore’s combined structural, enclosure, and construction engineering team developed an integrated and constructible secondary steel system consisting of rationalized arched tube steel along the head of the glazing system, from which structural glass fins were hung to support the face glass.

The secondary structure was designed to span between building columns to alleviate concerns of inter-storey movements. A full-span performance mock-up and testing regimen validated the performance of the system, which resisted seismic displacements without damage. Finally, to expedite implementation to construction, we provided fabrication level models of the structural steel to the steel fabricator. 

Creative Flexibility
Performers and patrons alike will appreciate the intimacy of the venue. A tight lower bowl and cantilevered balcony ensure that every seat is a good one. Two balcony scaling curtains provide customised reduced seating capacity for an even more intimate experience when needed.

Capable of holding 250,000 pounds of rigging loads, the venue rigging capacity far exceeds typical venues of this size and is comparable to an NBA or NHL arena.

Additionally, the SkyDeck tension wire grid above the stage provides ultimate flexibility and safety for riggers to set up, operate, and take down for a variety of performance types. This allows the venue to accommodate varying events on consecutive days without the breakdown process.

YouTube Theater is truly unique within Southern California and will provide an incredible experience for patrons to take advantage of all Hollywood Park has to offer.

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