The American Institute of Architects Los Angeles (AIA|LA) announced it will relocate its offices and programming to a former bank building in the historic South Los Angeles neighborhood of West Adams. The larger space will allow the professional organization to expand its offerings, while housing the facilities for Architecture for Communities Los Angeles (ACLA), a nonprofit launched by AIA|LA in 2020 that provides opportunities for students in the local community to engage in conversations and programming related to architecture. This larger space is the first of its kind for the AIA chapter and will bring together all of its offerings under one roof.
“I am very happy our organization’s scope will extend to the larger community by providing an environment that facilitates discussion about the value of architecture and design as tools to make our city a more equitable and just place for all Angelenos,” said AIA|LA and ACLA Executive Director Carlo Caccavale in a press statement. “At the same time, we will offer a state-of-the-art facility for our membership to gather for programs and events.”
AIA|LA’s President, Mitra Memari added “The Chapter was at the right juncture to embark on a bigger venture: when, in 2020, we launched ACLA with the tight mission to provide architectural education to empower communities and open the pipelines for the future of our profession by engaging in conversations with K-12 students, we thought it was also time to create a space for both AIA|LA (and its professional community) as well as ACLA to fulfill its mission with a programmatic use of an indoor/outdoor, beautiful new home.”
L.A.–based Clay Holden Architects will oversee the renovation and reoccupation of the existing bank building, which was built in 1927. The building, a squat one-story rectangular structure, located at the corner of West Adams Boulevard and Victoria Avenue, features a flattened facade with prominent elements of classical design, including a series of flush columns and a frieze that wraps around its entirety.
Clay Holden Architects will preserve the building, maintaining its original footprint, as well as its defining architectural elements. Renderings of the redesign shared by AIA|LA and the architect show the front, street-facing elevation revitalized with updated windows and bold, new signage. The interiors, approximately 3,000 square feet in size, feature an open plan layout with high ceilings and “a contemporary-warehouse style” augmented by the industrial-feel ductwork that runs parallel throughout the interiors. Similar to the exterior for the inside, the architects will continue with the light-touch approach, keeping the notable architectural elements and using subdued colors and materials.
As for the spaces themselves, there will be offices, both public-facing and private, in addition to several gathering areas for hosting events, including conference rooms, break-out spaces, and a Great Hall. A wooden staircase will be constructed within the Great Hall to create a second level within the former bank, increasing the building’s occupiable space. The upper floor will house additional space for hosting, conferences, exhibitions, meetings, and other educational programming and events.
The facility’s amenities continue outdoors where a large patio furnished with bench-like seating, round tables, throngs of plants and greenery, and a large mural decorate the site.
“We are aiming at a high level of sustainability in our design of an adaptable, multi-functional space that not only features AIA|LA’s and ACLA’s programs, but also welcomes other like-minded organizations with their own programs. We hope to be a vital hub in the West Adams neighborhood where communities can come together,” Caccavale said.
Construction on the building and site is slated to begin next month with an anticipated opening date set for Spring 2023.
AIA|LA isn’t the only Californian chapter of the AIA on the move. The organization’s Sacramento-based state chapter also recently relocated to new digs, a 1930s-era brick building renovated by local firm Dreyfuss + Blackford, while the AIA San Francisco is also moving to more spacious ground-floor headquarters within its current home at the historic Hallidie Building.