Inspired by the area’s industrial past, a concrete and glass building between Santa Monica and La Brea
Dynamism, transparency, and unconventional shapes characterize the new mixed-use complex designed by Lorcan O’Herlihy Architects [LOHA] in Los Angeles. An interpretation of the area’s industrial past through a contemporary lens, the structure encompasses retail, parking, and creative offices on the top floors. Named Sycamore953, the building is located at the intersection of Santa Monica and La Brea, a location that allows the project to stand as an example of how tradition and innovation can coexist both in architecture and functions. This was where California’s first cement mixing plant was built in 1923, the structure partly inspiring the design of this mixed-use building with its emphasis on the use of concrete and glass.
Sycamore953 has eight aboveground and two basement levels. But it stands out in particular for its dynamic shape and fragmented profile, with cantilevers, recesses, terraces, shaded areas, and interiors flooded with natural light thanks to the full-height windows that run around the entire perimeter of the building. Working in Sycamore953 therefore means views of the Hollywood Hills and downtown Los Angeles. The top three floors are already occupied by offices, for which natural light is maximized and optimized by the line of the façades, the roof, and the cantilevered floors. All these features are accentuated by the twisting of the stepped levels, almost creating the impression of a spiral staircase, and by the progressive increase in the height of the top three floors.
The two floors below them are currently dedicated to parking, which, along with the two lower floors and two underground floors, are used by a large number of the local people. However, designed with far-sighted vision for future reuse, the fourth and fifth floors are structured so that they can be converted into two additional levels of offices if necessary with minimal environmental impact and avoiding further land consumption, thereby futureproofing the building against the changing needs of the district. The four central parking floors also have special planters that capture and recycle rainwater to the city aqueduct. These floors were designed to take advantage of cross ventilation, which passively regulates the internal microclimate. Unlike the office floors, the height of the car parks is fixed.
The street level floor is dedicated to retail and likewise open to the city outside with its long, high windows.
This is a building that’s in harmony with the constant transformation and vivacity of its neighborhood, which, since last century, has increasingly been seen as a center for technology and innovation.
Location: Los Angeles, California, USA
Architects: Lorcan O’Herlihy Architects [LOHA]
Client: CIM Group
Area: 22.300 m2 (240,000 sf)
Photography by John Linden, courtesy of Lorcan O’Herlihy Architects [LOHA]