If you’ve walked Northeast on Figueroa Downtown just above 6th Street, you may have noticed a building that made you stop and go, “What?” If you passed it at night, you definitely stopped and stared at it because it was so interesting looking. It glows from the inside out with this white cleanliness and red pops of brightness. What is this place? Well, it is big architecture, design, and consulting firm Gensler‘s LA outpost. The name doesn’t sound familiar? Well, they are the people who designed the LA Live Ritz Carlton and Marriott, the Archlight, will be reconstructing the Los Angeles Coliseum, and will even be making Farmers Field, the divisive new NFL stadium. They’re also building the Shanghai Tower, AKA the second largest building in the world. Basically, they are very accomplished and they put this love and talent into their own LA space which feels a lot like the high-tech cousin of Wieden+Kennedy Portland office.
The space was built out in late 2011 and saw the company’s LA office move from a Santa Monica “meh” cubicle farm to an old Bank of America that they rehabbed into the space you see now. The space that you see here are three very open floors. The bottom floor has super high ceilings, a work/play auditorium area, and even a fancy front desk area made by Cal Poly students. The front walls are even an abstract representation of the Los Angeles street grid! Crazy.
The second and third floors are devoted to offices and, fun architectural tidbit, the second floor actually “hangs” by the support beams used for the third floor which is why you do not see any huge columns on the first floor. Like the first floor, these two working areas are quite open and embrace the concept of working together in an exposed environment. Want a little more peace? There are built communal small working areas like a treehouse library, a few large tables, and drop-in meeting rooms. They also have an area on the third floor devoted to fabrications (rug and fabric swatches and various other building materials) that designers can use and reference when making a project. If you look up from here, the ceiling is a giant skylight that lights up the space, has light/temperature sensored blinds that retract when it gets to hot, and is built in a way that–should there be a fire–the smoke can escape very easily.
The building is remarkable and one of those hidden “Wait–this exists…in LA??” kind of places. Additionally, the building was built out in a matter of months as they got the space early in 2011, ordered the materials the same day they got it, moved their Westside offices Downtown, and opened up by Fall of the same year. That’s crazy! There are also a few floors below them that includes a fancy shop where they can make 3D models of buildings and a retail space they use for art offerings. They’re also super into rehabbing old spaces (like they did with their own) and will be doing some locally, soon. If you’re dying to check out the space, check out their Facebook as they have lots of programs like Live Talks and even crazy dance events. Keep your eyes out for this place. It’s a beauty!