RAC Design Build and contractor City Constructors have transformed a 12,000-square-foot former aircraft facility on the edge of Culver City’s Hayden Tract into a flexible work environment for the visual effects company Framestore. The New York–based outfit, known for its work on the film Gravity, wanted a distinctive space to serve as its new West Coast headquarters.
Repurposing the building—an industrial tilt-up concrete shell with a unique four-story central tower—on a fast-track schedule required a coordinated approach between the architect and the builder. “I think the finished design really shows how the team came together,” said Evan Richardson, vice-president of City Constructors.
The distinctive tower, originally used for fireproofing and drying fabric for airplane wings, was reinterpreted by RAC as a visual and social hub. With its independent
steel truss system called out in striking yellow, it now houses a bi-level conference area and functions as a light well to illuminate the open plan below. Its upper level serves as a roof deck overlooking the surrounding neighborhood and offering views of the city. Since the tower was a separate structure, it posed logistical and structural challenges. “Its completion marked a turning point,” said Richardson. “Once that tower steel was done and the new staircase (made out of cantilevered concrete) was in, the flood gates opened and it allowed the finishes to really take shape.”
More character was added to the tower by opening it up and highlighting the steel trusses as design elements, making it part of the language of the interior. Additionally, large steel-framed windows, doors, and glass partitions were used to define the tower’s new functional spaces.
RAC designed the core and shell, adding new details to the openings of the original tilt-up by using redwood, steel, and glass to create a large pivot door, which replaced a roll-up door at the entrance. A large steel and glass barn door was also built for a secondary entrance. Interior firm DHD Architecture and Design, out of New York, designed playful faceted “islands” in an open floor plan for meeting and workspaces.