MAD Architects has formally revealed Gardenhouse, the Beijing-headquartered firm’s first completed project in the United States. Located at 8600 Wilshire Boulevard in Beverly Hills, the 48,000-square-foot mixed-use complex—street-level commercial at its base, luxury residential up top—manages to both politely blend into its well-groomed environs while and also bringing something playful and new.
With a series of white gabled facades poking up from above a vegetation-wrapped base, the visually arresting building is meant to be reminiscent of a small, remote village perched on a lush mountainside. The semblance is visually quite effective, if a bit puckish, even though the five-story building isn’t towering or intrusive, as it tops out at just under 60 feet.
The illusion of a summit-topping hamlet carries through to Gardenhouse’s range of housing typologies: eight condominiums, five villas, three townhouses, and two studio apartments. Per the firm, this diversity is meant to offer residents a “high sense of community, and a feeling of individuality and exclusiveness even in this small-scale development.” And in lieu of a central corridor, the units, most sporting pitched roofs and all clustered around a tree-lined second-floor courtyard, have their own independent entry/exit circulation routes as if they were standalone houses.
MAD’s mountaintop village in the heart of Beverly Hills does, however, have a ground-floor central entry point tucked away on Stanley Drive that makes entering Gardenhouse from the street sound like a rather heady experience. The entrance “adopts the atmosphere of a cave digging into the hillside; a dim, surreal environment where residents are led on a journey through a ‘fairyland’ of light, shadow, and the sound of water,” reads a statement released by MAD. “Further ahead, the softness of the cave meets a bright conclusion, with natural light flooding through a connected water feature from the courtyard patio above.”
The most verdant and profuse element of the complex isn’t necessary the inner courtyard—or a “secret garden” as the firm describes it. From almost top to bottom, the building’s street-facing exterior is clad in an impressively generous swath of greenery that’s composed of vines, drought-resistant succulents, and an array of native plants. This defining feature is described by MAD as one of the largest living walls in the U.S. Seasons Landscaping is credited as the project’s green wall specialist, working alongside landscape architecture-helming Gruen Associates.
“Los Angeles and Beverly Hills are highly modernized and developed. Their residences on the hills seemingly coexist with the urban environment,” said MAD Architects founding principal Ma Yansong in a statement. However, they also see enclosed movement at their core. The commune connection between the urban environment and nature is isolated. What new perspectives, and new value, can we bring to Los Angeles? Perhaps, we can create a hill in the urban context, so people can live on it and make it a village. This place will be half urban, half nature. This can offer an interesting response to Beverly Hills: a neighborhood which is often carefully organized and maintained, now with a witty, playful new resident.”
In addition to Gruen Associates, who also served as executive architect, and Seasons Landscaping, the project team includes Rottet Studio (interior design), John Labib + Associates (structural engineer), Breen Engineering Inc. (MEP Engineer) and DHC Builders, Inc. (general contractor). The project was developed by the Santa Monica-based Palisades Capital Partners.
Not surprisingly, much like the topography that Gardenhouse evokes, prices for the units are similarly steep and start at $3.7 million.