For those living in Los Angeles in the 1970s and '80s, there was only one place to see a rock concert or a sporting event: the "Fabulous" Forum.
Opened in 1967, the Forum rises on its Inglewood site like a modern-day Roman Coliseum. Its financier, Jack Kent Cooke, was a door-to-door encyclopedia salesman turned multi-millionaire who dreamed of building "sports' answer to the Taj Mahal" in Los Angeles.
Cooke came to Los Angeles in the early 1960s having already established himself in sports team ownership with the Toronto Maple Leafs baseball team and the Washington Redskins of the NFL.
He purchased the Los Angeles Lakers in 1965 and, unwilling to stop there, moved to establish a National Hockey League franchise in the city. Despite his many detractors, he achieved this goal in 1967 with the Los Angeles Kings.
The Forum was designed by the renowned firm of Charles Luckman Associates, who had built Madison Square Garden in New York the previous year.
The circular building has a façade composed of massive white columns, whose flared capitals form an exterior arcade and an elegant scalloped profile against the sky.
The colonnade supports a reinforced concrete compression ring, from which hangs a cable-suspended roof measuring approximately 407 feet in diameter.
The suspended roof system allows for a massive, open interior space completely free of columnar supports. In 1967, the compression ring at the Forum was one of the largest of its kind in the country.
The relocation of both the Los Angeles Lakers and Kings to Staples Center in 1999 rendered the Forum severely underused. Though purchased by a local church, the building suffered from benign neglect and deferred maintenance.
After Madison Square Garden acquired the Forum in 2012, the new owner launched a project to reinvent the building as a high-end entertainment venue. The project team completely updated the Forum for the twenty-first century while maintaining its unique historic appearance, earning a Conservancy Preservation Award in 2014.
Athletic arenas have long posed preservation challenges, with a special-purpose design that can be difficult to reuse. They are also often perceived as outdated relics due to constant demands for updated arenas based on visitor expectations and advancements in technology. With such constant pressure to demolish or alter arenas, the Forum serves as a shining example that it is in fact possible to preserve, renovate, and reuse historic arenas.