An open air soccer stadium in Downtown Los Angeles that integrates elements of its surrounding neighborhood into its architectural landscape design. 

Before the Banc of California Stadium there was the storied LA Sports Arena. When it came down in 2016, National Demolition reached out to us to see if we were interested in recovering the 20-plus mature trees tagged for removal on the site. We received Coast Live Oaks and California Sycamores, as well as our other favorites, Shamel Ash and Blue Gum Eucalyptus. The wood was good, but we didn’t have a project worthy of such material. Two years later we received a call from Studio MLA. They were designing exterior areas of the Banc of California Stadium and wanted to repurpose the trees from the site back into their design for the new stadium.

In 2018, in collaboration with Studio MLA, we turned these urban trees into timber benches and returned them to where they once grew for stadium fans to enjoy.  We call this a Life Cycle Project.  

Design Development

Log Benches

California Sycamore & Coast Live Oak: Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena (demolished 2016 and current site of Banc of California Studium)

Certified LEED Silver

Studio MLA Landscape Architect
Brightview Landscaping

In an era of globalization and outsourcing, a Life Cycle Project is the simplest of ideas. When an urban tree comes down its wood is made into usable lumber. That lumber then goes back to the same property where the tree once stood. No lumber is imported for the project and lumber from the tree is not chipped.

While the California Sycamore logs waited patiently for months, they developed “zone line spalting,” a phenomenon where various fungi wall off their nutrients from neighboring fungi with thin, dark lines, forming walls in jagged patterns. It may not sound very appealing, but it is stunning and highly sought after by woodworkers worldwide. From this, Studio MLA utilized a series of long, horizontal timber benches and short, vertical timber stools out of the California Sycamore.

We like to think that some of the ephemeral moments live on in the wood: Eddie Van Halen’s riffs and Michael Jackson’s hee-hees; cheers for Kareem’s skyhooks and the Kings’ inaugural season in 1967; the booming voice of Dr. MLK’s rally in 1960. These moments reverberate through the fibers of these wooden structures whether they are standing upright or resting horizontally.

One of nature’s timeworn tree species, the Sycamore was a popular wood in Ancient Greece and indigenous North America. Because the Sycamore is supple, the rudimentary tools of the past were able to shape and carve the wood with ease to make canoes, utensils, cabinets, and furniture. 

In a land notorious for water scarcity, the riparian California Sycamore is LA’s native unicorn. Quarter and rift sawn grain resembles a tiger’s stripes of pale pinks and reds. With proper kiln drying, California Sycamore cuts and machines like butter. For a deciduous hardwood, its softness makes for effortless joinery. Indoors is the happy place for this species: table tops and trestle bases, chairs, shelves, mantels, cabinets, millworks and moldings, and low-traffic flooring. California Sycamore remains, for us, an unsung hero. A wood lover’s wood.