Holdrege Avenue Building
February 20, 2012
*all images courtesy of Architectural record
Many times, in architecture, we are dealing with an existing project that a client has asked us to update. Since this is true of one of our current projects I decided to do some research into adaptive reuse projects. As a Denver architect I was drawn to a project located in Los Angeles, California, 3641 Holdrege Avenue.
What drew me to this project was the way the architect respected the integrity of the existing building, including the roof, a half dome structure typical of 1950's industrial construction.
Located in Culver City this building joins the ranks of many other buildings in the area who have converted from industrial to commercial use. Urban Offerings, the developer, saw a chance to provide an emerging market of creative businesses a place to house their companies in a growing urban context.
The solution offered up from Lynch / Eisinger / Design was to create more from less. So they started by tearing down a generic shed built in the 1980's to provide space for surface parking. They also sliced off pieces of a second building to create some outdoor space in the form of courtyards, and to allow daylight into the space. This left the original warehouse building, serving as a diaper factory at the time.
They restored the remaining buildings, dating from 1956, which consisted of tilt-up concrete walls and bowstring-truss roofs. They sandblasted the trusses and walls to expose the warmth of the wood and the ruggedness of the walls and floor.
The project's lead tenant required a showroom and sales center. So the design team created a dramatic entry narrative. A slatted pavilion gets the attention of the public, offering limited views of what lies beyond. Visitors enter the pavilion, which has no doors, and pass into one of the new courtyard spaces. This meandering entry sequence allows visitors to shift their minds from life in the city to the quiet garden environment.
The east and west walls are now curtain wall systems. The east faces the larger of the two courtyard spaces, while the west façade projects from the building on steel grating like a pergola exposing the bowstring trusses.
The final solution creates an architectural setting which establishes a great relationship between indoor and outdoor spaces. The communication between the two is essential in all projects but is critical for 3641 Holdrege Avenue. Through a design and renovation process of subtraction a multitenant commercial building was crafted.
This forlorn set of buildings was given a new identity as a great place to work. The entry sequence proves that the most direct way is not always the best way. And the power of connecting interior and exterior spaces is gracefully exhibited here.
It also helped me to visualize my own project in a different light. As I stated in the beginning, as architects, we often deal with existing conditions. Sometimes it's buildings and sometimes it's just context. The ability to see something that isn't there, or isn't obvious, is where our skills as designers come in. Giving new life to buildings of the past is very fulfilling.