Fourth and Linden
Architect: Studio One Eleven
Developer: East Village Partners
Location: Long Beach
The project, funded in part by a $350,000 facade-improvement grant from the city of Long Beach, subdivided a single derelict warehouse into three distinct buildings for office and condominium uses. With a beautiful frieze and other art deco highlights still intact, the trio complement each other while retaining their gritty, industrial character. Interiors are raw shells featuring exposed brick and block walls, concrete floors and wood truss ceilings with skylights. “When we bought the building it was drywall, carpet, gypsum, and drop ceilings,” said Studio One Eleven principal Michael Bohn. “We peeled all this away and discovered a beautiful patina.” To encourage interaction between tenants, a variety of landscaped outdoor spaces are incorporated into the project, including a shared courtyard with meeting space, a lushly landscaped paseo, and a parking court.
National Typewriter Company Studios
Architect: Shimoda Design Group with Andy Waisler
Location: Santa Monica
The project consisted of knitting together two mid-century, light industrial buildings in Santa Monica to create a production studio for one of the most high-profile clients in the city. The firm blew a hole through the center of both structures and united them through a large kitchen. Open and informally divided, the space is designed to encourage interaction and creativity, a goal furthered by two exterior courtyards on the ground, a roof deck, and a green roof. The architects took the buildings down to their bricks and rebuilt everything “in a flavor that was vernacular,” said Joey Shimoda of Shimoda Design Group. New elements hide in plain sight: “Whatever our interventions were, it wasn’t apparent that it was an alteration,” he said. New large steel windows with wire glass front the work areas; steel frame doors divide spaces; existing concrete floors were redone; wood floors were installed upstairs; industrial planking flanks exterior stairs, guard rails, and an exterior bridge; and walls consist mostly of brick, concrete block, and recycled lumber. Light fixtures are mostly wall mounted on the perimeter to be less conspicuous. In total, the project includes an art studio, a recording studio, video editing rooms, a screening room, and offices.
Malibu Lumber Yard
Architect: Phillip Trigas with RTK Architects
Developer: Richard Weintraub and Richard Sperber
Architect Phillip Trigas masterminded the transformation of the former Malibu Lumber Yard—a faceless collection of drywall and glulam sheds—into a vibrant and elegant 30,000-square-foot shopping center. The design retains the perimeter walls of the existing main structure, but Trigas clad the space with dark ipe wood slats, supplemental steel beams, and wood framing. Inside that shell, the project centers around an elipse-shaped courtyard with an upper-level mezzanine notable for its rounded corners, which, said Trigas, make the second floor “breathe more” and open to more views. The project maintains all stormwater runoff through bioswales under its wooden deck. Other contributors include Marmol Radziner, who re-purposed two sheds on the site into new stores. “It’s not a singular strip mall, but a collection of buildings that engage you from outside and draw you in,” said Trigas.
El Dorado Lofts
Architect: Rockefeller Partners
Developer: Goodwin Gaw
Location: Downtown Los Angeles
Thanks largely to its generous financial incentives for adaptive reuse, downtown Los Angeles has become a hotbed for conversion development. One of the newest such projects is Rockefeller Partners’ El Dorado Lofts, the transformation of an historic Gothic/Art Nouveau hotel in LA’s Old Bank district into residential units. With a green-glazed brick facade, extravagant iron cornice, and floral terra cotta detailing, the El Dorado is highlighted with a Gloria Swanson lobby, complete with grand staircase ascending up a lofty double-height space. Tiles from the Pasadena-based Batchelder Tile Factory were found on the walls and lobby columns, the most intact example of early 1900s Batchelder work in the world. Offsetting the nostalgia, rooms and hallways include exposed concrete beams and walls combined with new, but hefty, steel windows and doors.
Architect: Hennebery Eddy Architects
Developer: Harsch Investment Properties
Location: Portland, OR
Located at one of Portland’s busiest intersections, a curvy 1950s building has been released from jail. Hennebery Eddy Architects removed the heavy iron bars on the windows and added a new glass penthouse when they transformed the former Federal Reserve Bank, designed by local modernist champion Pietro Belluschi in 1950, into a five-story office space. Although the structure was not a historic landmark, it was impressive enough that the architects followed the Secretary of the Interior’s standards for rehabilitation, repeating the white marble and curved lines of the exterior in the new lobby that had been subject to a “bad ‘80s” renovation. They also moved the main entrance to the more accessible west side, giving it an updated visual identity with a long mural of fritted glass displaying a blown-up detail from a dollar bill. One of the bank’s original functions—taking old money out of circulation and shredding it—also gets a wink: The elevators’ back walls are glass panels embedded with shredded bills. “With the security barriers gone, what was a dead zone is now a very animated area,” said principal David Wark. “The building is part of the energy of that neighborhood—it produces energy now.”
Woodbury Architecture School
Architect: Rinehart Herbst
Developer: Woodbury University
Location: San Diego
The firm Rinehart Herbst took a vacant, blighted, former hardware building in the city’s Barrio Logan and transformed it into Woodbury University’s San Diego satellite facility serving 150 students. The program included an architecture library, a metal/wood shop, CAD/CAM milling facilities, computing rooms, and, of course, architecture studios. With a tight three-month timeline and a very small budget, minimal interventions were all that was possible, and so the architects left the building’s industrial frame intact but did replace electrical, lighting, and mechanical systems, including a displaced air system that principal Todd Rinehart calls “a glorified swamp cooler.” They also installed modern components like polycarbonate glazing and some new skylights to bring in more daylight. A new facade is composed of mylar-and-aluminum mesh as a shading device to keep out excess heat. A bold paint scheme helps to bring the whole project up to date.
Architect: Lloyd Russell
Developer: Sam Chammas
Location: San Diego
The Station Tavern and Burgers in San Diego’s South Park neighborhood is sited on a block where once the 30th Street trolley passed through. Russell responded to that in his design, from the building’s triangular shape that resembles a train station to the pieces of original track that trim the property. Roll up doors neatly pocket into the ceiling, and a redwood lath adds texture and sound-proofing to the ceiling, evoking the old plaster-and-lath technique that was discovered during demo. Elements of the original building were salvaged and incorporated into the design: The outdoor space includes an old-school tower articulated with solar panels, while an outdoor patio evokes a train platform “in case the trolley ever does come by again,” Russell said.
Ford Assembly Plant
Architect: Marcy Wong Donn Logan
Developer: Orton Development
Location: Richmond, CA
Designed by Albert Kahn in 1931, the behemoth quarter-mile-long, half-a-million-square-foot building, with massive sawtooth skylights, not only made cars, but also tanks during WWII. The second time around, the architects made as few visual interventions as possible. Major new moves include a white, sculptural steel stair that cuts from the first floor to the roof; new glass and casements in the spirit of the original; and a grid of colored “streets and alleyways” to organize the space without walls. “We tried to put our stamp on the building without covering up the historic beauty of it,” said Marcy Wong, principal at Marcy Wong Donn Logan Architects. “It’s pretty hard to cover up anyway, because it’s 525,000 square feet.” Salvageable portions from Kahn’s day were consolidated to read as intended, with steel casements and wire-fortified glass. The building is now used by a number of companies including Sunpower Corp, a solar company, and Mount Hardware, a mountain gear retailer. Other areas of the building are available for retail use and public events.