Grimshaw Architects is looking to transform a parking lot in Los Angeles’s Chinatown into a bustling creative hub. 130 West College Street is slated to be a five-story, 233,000-square-foot development massed as two office buildings separated by a central atrium. The design, which will be structured in mass timber, places a strong emphasis on sustainable methods and systems as well as occupant wellness.
The proposal to reimagine the site—currently a vacant lot wedged between College Street, Bruno Street, North Alameda Street, and North Main Street in an “underutilized” section of the mixed-use neighborhood—has been submitted for entitlement review. Grimshaw has developed the design with the wine-making Riboli Family and development manager Granite Properties.
Initial renderings of 130 West College show the two rectangular buildings standing side by side with a mid-block courtyard. At street level, landscaping wraps the perimeter of the building where restaurants and shops can be situated. Above a wood-clad podium, two two-story rectangular volumes are layered and shifted in plan. Expansive terraces on the south-facing facade give the buildings its tiered appearance.
130 West College’s program is reflected on its dynamic facades: Along the shorter faces, large spans of glass open to public-facing outdoor deck spaces. Meeting rooms and other spaces for more concentrated or private work are placed within the building’s core. Upper floors of the east- and west-facing elevations are fronted with a vertical grid of narrowed windows, while at street level timber slatting crowns the glass storefronts.
“The design vision is to create a vibrant and flexible exterior environment to accommodate different types of occupation across all levels of the development,” Andrew Byrne, managing partner of Grimshaw’s Los Angeles studio in a press release.
The project is an important one to do well, as Grimshaw’s Los Angeles offices are located just a few blocks away.
“With Grimshaw’s studio located just down the street from 130 West College, we feel very connected to the Chinatown neighborhood,” Byrne added. “It is important to us that our design for the building compliments the local architecture and contributes to the vibrancy of the community.”
Though the buildings occupy much of the site, this does not close it off to the public: A landscaped plaza and raised outdoor sandwiched between the two buildings creates an inviting meeting spot for the entire community.
The proposed building is wholly focused on sustainability. As a firm Grimshaw has “publicly committed to design and deliver socially and environmentally regenerative buildings and assets by 2030.” According to the firm’s website, it strives to achieve net zero carbon/net zero carbon–ready in all its design work by 2025. With all-electric systems, an array of photovoltaics, and the use of carbon-sequestering mass timber within the building, Grimshaw is making headway toward those decarbonization goals.
Another project goal promotes wellness among tenants. In addition to office space and collaborative work environments, the buildings would also house bike storage, showers, and lockers.
“Today’s workers prioritize wellness and social engagement in their everyday experiences, so it is imperative to design the modern workplace with purpose and intention to draw people back into the office,” Byrne continued. “Our design for 130 West College will provide a robust mix of flexible workspace, desirable amenities, and outdoor space to support new ways of working.”
Working alongside Grimshaw and developers on the project are SALT Landscape Architects, with Holmes Structures as the structural engineer, Buro Happold as the MEP engineer, and civil engineering work from Langan.
130 College Street is now subject to entitlement review. The next design stage is anticipated to begin in early 2024.