72 and Sunny
Playa Vista, California
The sprawling former offices of the visionary and eccentric businessman Howard Hughes in Playa Vista have undergone an extensive renovation, and are now a major playground for creative offices and academic institutions like Youtube, Earthbound Media, and UCLA’s new Ideas Campus. But only one company got to be in the Hercules Campus’ Building One, home to Hughes’ administrative building and his own office: advertising and media company 72 and Sunny.
They hired LA studio Lean Arch to create a new space that “creates a feeling of awe,” inside the space according to Lean’s principal James Myers. The firm kept most of the two-story space simple, open, and timeless, inserting a few key focal points.
Primary among these are a first floor work pod and second floor executive office, each partially exposed to passersby through timber louvers or slats. Beyond that are a large central floating stair, supported on steel Y-braces and propped on a multi-level wood base for congregating; an adjacent lush green wall and open kitchen; and a large cement board–clad board room on the second floor with angular walls and fish scale–like siding. Meyer likens it to a “starship transporter.” Its conference table is designed to look like a giant surfboard (all of the office’s conference rooms are named after surf breaks).
Around this, employees’ office spaces are arranged in four large quadrants of open seating. Most have easy access to natural light, and, nearby, to large openings onto the lovely tree-lined courtyards, which were brought back to life after years of neglect. The company wanted a clean, uncluttered look, so wires and mechanical systems do not protrude beneath the line of the building’s original steel trusses. The flashiest ornamentation comes from the offices’ many presentation walls, filled with ideas and sketches.
Meanwhile, at the end of a second floor hallway Hughes’ original offices—known as Mahogany Row—have had their elegant wood detailing preserved, albeit with new floating ceilings, floors, and dry wall surrounding it. It is fun to see brainstorming sessions taking place inside Hughes’ own office nearby. Indeed, his spirit of adventure lives on here.