Creating a Functional Community Retail District in Virgil Village

April 25, 2011 § Leave a comment

This past weekend, Studio One Eleven started work on a comprehensive plan for Virgil Village: a new neighborhood project sponsored by Los Angeles Neighborhood Initiatives (LANI). The focus of our study is Virgil Avenue, a mixed-use (but mostly retail-oriented) street between Melrose Avenue and Santa Monica Boulevard in Los Angeles. Like a lot of our work, this project involves the design of streets and sidewalks as well as commercial façades along an economically-challenged part of town.

We’ve always recognized the significance of being involved in these types of projects. In fact, our studio was born as a result of working with the 4th Street merchant association to implement a commercial façade program on Long Beach’s Retro Row (www.4thstreetlongbeach.com). The success of that project affirmed our commitment to what we call “Community Retail Districts” – local/independent stores that serve the community and occupy older and historic buildings along public streets. Community Retail Districts are the public face of a neighborhood, and operate on the triple bottom line of economic, cultural, and social return. This contrasts with “Corporate Retail Districts” (a.k.a. “shopping centers”), which are privately owned and often provide economic return only to investors who are not connected to the community. (Visit www.cooltownstudios.com for more on natural cultural districts and their return to communities).
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Back in Rehab

September 29, 2010 § Leave a comment

At Studio 111 we love to work on adaptive re-use projects. There’s something about re-purposing a derelict building that seems appropriate in this budget constrained, energy conscious age. And the texture, history and materials of older buildings just can’t be replicated with new construction. (Check-out the awesome Waterhouse Hotel in Shanghai in the September 2010 issue of Architectural Record – architects, trained to create new buildings, love something about ruin and decay as well). Our latest adaptive re-use project is the Continental Graphics Building rehabilitation on La Brea Boulevard in Los Angeles. Some of the materials and graphics of the project will play off the history of the site as one of LA’s premier printing shops, but the first phases of work are fairly straightforward – creating new storefronts and interiors (we’re collaborating with Mark Hershman from Shubin Donaldson) in order to re-purpose the buildings from light industrial to retail and/or creative offices. A lot of the construction is being done on spec, so the buildings are fairly neutral in order for the tenants to come in and provide a unique identity. And the whole vibe of the street, with American Rag, Volcom and Undefeated on the same block, is pretty low-key-cool. That’s a good thing, since the budgets are low-key too. Beyond the buildings themselves, our ultimate goal is seeing revitalized storefronts and tenants, new streetscaping (we’re working with Ahbe Landscape design) and pedestrian improvements and traffic calming occur so that this block transforms into a more walkable retail destination. And once that happens, extend the improvements both North and South. That may take some time, which is OK. We’re happy the first phases have begun. The contractor is Del Amo Construction (it’s a design-build project), and our client is developer Madison Marquette.

Lincoln + Rose, winner of 2010 LABC Renovated Building Award

August 18, 2010 § Leave a comment

Lincoln+Rose
Photo by Tom Bonner Photography

A few weeks ago the LA Business Council hosted the 40th version of the LA Architectural Awards. Selected by a jury of ten notable design and building professionals, the winning projects cut across a wide range of building types, from commercial office spaces to affordable apartment complexes to sports arenas. The call for entries went out in December 2009 to more than 7,000 industry leaders. From the hundreds of submissions received, the jury selected 31 winning projects in 20 overall categories. All winning projects, except the “Best of LA Architects” award winners, are located within Los Angeles County. “Best of LA Architects” recognizes local architects for projects completed outside of Los Angeles County.

Links to more coverage: archdaily, inhabitat, LA Business Council

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