Grimshaw and East End Studios reveal plans for “vertical” production campus in Downtown L.A.’s Arts District

Produce Distribution to Film Production

Grimshaw and East End Studios reveal plans for “vertical” production campus in Downtown L.A.’s Arts District

Stacked and integrated into the surrounding neighborhood, the proposed ADLA Campus marks a departure from traditional studio complex design. (Grimshaw)

A 15-acre industrial site not too far from the 6th Street Viaduct on the eastern fringes of Downtown Los Angeles is set to be transformed into a Grimshaw-designed “vertical campus” operated by independent production company East End Studios.

As reported by multiple outlets, East End Capital, a real estate investment firm and parent company of East End Studios, recently filed plans with the city for the $800 million development, which envisions a compact and stacked production hub that deviates from the traditionally sprawling studio complex typology found across Southern California. The so-called East End Arts District Los Angeles (ADLA) Campus, as proposed, will include 321,530 square feet of studio facilities (16 soundstages in total), 293,000 square feet of Class A office space, 106,570 square feet of production support, and over 1,000 parking spaces, most of them tucked underground.

As reported by the Los Angeles Times, the development site at the southeast corner of 6th and Alameda streets is currently home to a pair of produce distribution warehouses and a sea of surface parking. East End Capital acquired the property for $240 million in May with plans to build out its fourth studio project in and around L.A., including its Griffith Park campus in Glendale, and fifth overall. All facilities at the ADLA Campus would be for rent.

“We jumped at the opportunity to build a world-class campus for digital content production in the Arts District,” said Shep Wainwright, managing partner of East End Capital in a statement. “The existing and proposed amenities in the area, the sheer size of the property, and the billions of dollars of nearby transit investment represented an unmatched opportunity to bring desperately needed modern production space to Los Angeles.”

Notably, the ADLA Campus will be an elevated one with various facilities linked by a series of outdoor terraces and raised walkways. With pedestrian circulation lifted entirely above street level, “basecamp” vehicular traffic—equipment trucks, actors’ trailers, etc.—will be able to move more safely and seamlessly between soundstages and production spaces. (This is in comparison to the free-for-all scenario found at most studio facilities where foot and vehicular traffic comingle at street level.) In another departure from the norm, the design of the ADA Campus isn’t entirely cloistered and walled-off from the surrounding environs. On the campus’s eastern Mill Street frontage, an inviting swath of open public space would fuse a connection with the surrounding Arts District.

rendering of a stack studio complex
The proposed studio development would rise at a 15-acre Arts District site not too far from Grimshaw’s own L.A. studio. (Courtesy Grimshaw)

“The typically high, bank facades demanded of studio production sites has been tempered and integrated into the surrounding streetscape through a breaking down of the large building module, moments of activation, public amenities and landscaping,” elaborated Grimshaw.

Noting that the ADLA Campus is “evolving the traditional campus of sound studios,” Andrew Byrne, the partner at Grimshaw leading the firm’s L.A. studio, went on to explain that “campus connectivity and city context has driven Grimshaw’s approach to the site which holds industrial heritage and will accommodate a digital future, and the opportunity to work on a project that is part of our own direct community, with Grimshaw’s Los Angeles studio only a handful of blocks away, is particularly exciting.”

Established in 1980 by Sir Nicholas Grimshaw, the London-headquartered firm, which transitioned to become a partnership in 2007, is indeed located in the neighborhood, with its busy L.A. studio being located at 432 Coylton Street. Other major Grimshaw projects in and around L.A. include the Union Station Masterplan, the Santa Monica College Arts Complex, and the $900 million LAX Airport Metro connector transit station, which gained approval in April 2021 with construction kicking off a year later. Both the Union Station and LAX Airport Metro connector projects are in partnership with Gruen Associates.

Rounding out the larger ADLA Campus project team is Mia Lehrer’s National Design Award-winning landscape architecture practice Studio-MLA, structural engineer Englekirk, MEP engineer Meyers+, and civil engineer Langan.

Available soundstage and production space that can accommodate the growing, pandemic-driven demands of streaming services is scarce, and studios and developers have been scrambling to revamp older existing facilities and design and build new campuses that can meet this demands of the streaming boom; like with this particular project, some of these developments set out to tweak the traditional, land-intensive production facility format for a more urban context.

Although a firm project timeline has not been established, the Times noted that East End Capital anticipates that approval will be gained within two years; and when that happens, construction is anticipated to take another two years.