The Studio and the City

The Studio and the City

Studio One Eleven’s Formosa South adds new production spaces and offices to The Lot.
Nico Marques / Photekt

Formosa South is the first new building on The Lot, Hollywood’s historic film studio campus, in over three decades. Long Beach-based Studio One Eleven has been working with The Lot to enhance an existing master plan, The Lot Movie Studios Comprehensive Development Plan, since 2011. The opening of Formosa South in December of last year represents the completion of phase one in a plan to create a unique district that connects to the surrounding city.

The design complements The Lot’s historic collection of early 20th century studio and office buildings with a contemporary approach to creative workplace. “We wanted a design that had the feel of a repositioned industrial building but with more personal moves that would allow tenants to express their own identities,” said Alan Pullman, Studio One Eleven’s principal-in-charge and lead designer for the project. “It was important that it avoided any kind of corporate look,” he added.


To achieve this, the architects drew inspiration from the image of Le Corbusier’s Domino House and looked to Benjamin Thompson’s Design Research Headquarters in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The later project proved an important precedent for its floor-to-floor glazing and flexible spaces. “We were going for expansive glazing rather than punched openings,” recalled Pullman.

Formosa South gives the appearance of a stacked “urban village,” reflecting different uses and tenants on the exterior. It presents itself as the new front for The Lot along Formosa Avenue, framing a gateway into the campus. The design also enhances the street environment with its play of glass, color, and concrete, as well as a softened landscaped edge.


The team was interested in creating texture changes, moments of variety, and interesting differences on all sides of the building. Box-like elements slide out from the larger volume and the red facade panels that alternate from floor-to-floor around the building reference the historic Formosa Café, just down the road. “The building is designed to be a good neighbor,” explained Pullman. “It was important that it connects with its surroundings, pedestrian pathways, and the landscape.”

Funny or Die’s off-kilter workplace designed by Clive Wilkinson Architects.

While the building’s exterior responds to the site’s history and context, it was important that the interior spaces be flexible enough to accommodate traditional entertainment as well as new media tenants. The plan functions like a template. Tenants can build-out to suit their individual needs, with the added benefit of individual entrances. These elements, plus its location, are why Formosa South has become one of the most sought after creative media spaces in the city. Notable tenants so far include Oprah Winfrey’s OWN production company headquarters and Will Farrell’s online comedy network, Funny or Die with interiors by LA architect Clive Wilkinson.

Formosa South, certified LEED Gold, applies technology where it will have the biggest impact. Low-E double-glazing is used on all facades and the design includes operable windows, a rarity in multi-story office buildings. These elements combined with high-efficiency mechanical systems and recycled building materials contributed to the LEED Gold status. “People should be able to open a window,” said Pullman.

Phase two of the master plan, the Studio One Eleven-designed Plaza Building, will break ground later in 2015.