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“(W)rapper” Office Tower

Designing a Uniquely Resilient Tower

Eric Owen Moss

“(W)rapper” Office Tower
By Michael Webb -

Twenty-five years ago, Eric Owen Moss exhibited a model of a tower encircled with steel ribbons that support 17 floors of column-free office space. It was conceived as the high point of a masterplan that covers an area between Culver City and Los Angeles and that includes the regeneration of the Hayden Tract, a decrepit light-industrial zone. Visionary developers Frederick and Laurie Samitaur-Smith saw the project whole but realized it incrementally, allowing Moss to give each remodel and ground-up addition a distinctive personality. It is a showcase of sculptural forms and a magnet for creative firms, making this a resoundingly successful urban redevelopment.
(W)rapper, as the tower is called, raises the bar. As you approach it suggests a statuesque figure with rippling muscles. The steel bands have been treated with sprayed-on cementitious fireproofing, giving them a third dimension. The rectangular office floors are fully glazed on three sides and vary in height from 4.2 to 7.3 m. A glazed “beak” extends out from one end, recalling a wedge of space between the new structure and a building that formerly occupied the adjoining site. To free up the 16,700 sq. m of rentable space, elevators, rest rooms and mechanical equipment are accommodated in a service tower on the south-west side, providing shade from midday sun. An emergency exit stair is boldly expressed in cantilevered landings and a free-floating flight of steps that extends the line of a structural band. This stair and a walkway provide access to the second-level lobby from a station on the elevated light rail track that runs past the tower. 
Many of the Moss creations in the Hayden Tract have a jewel-like character; (W)rapper combines mass and transparency on a heroic scale. The irregularity of the bands and the exposed joints give it a hand-crafted quality. The swooping geometry plays off the verticality of the tower and the solid elements to the rear, and their rough...

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