Date:  Spring 2014
Comprehensive Design Studio
Institution:  UCLA M Arch I
Critic:  Roger Sherman

A counterproposal to the traditional tower project—this design for a hotel in Century City, Los Angeles competes in scale with its neighbors, however, also seeks to undo what one might argue is the traditional “exterior versus interior” paradigm common to high-rise building types. Instead, the design explores formal tension by resisting a singular reading through strategies such as recalibration of scale and exploration of the ambiguity that exists between solid /void and part /whole.  Ultimately, the design seeks to capture the visual and spatial potential of what might be termed as the “loose figure”—operating formally between object and texture.      

Between Object and Texture

A particular Los Angeles precedent—John Portman’s Bonaventure Hotel—and it’s ability to produce an experience rooted in a deep interior space was an initial precedent that informed the design.  The Bonaventure Hotel’s inner chamber is undeniably the main event and, is made possible by the hard reflective surfaces that define the exterior envelope.  While Portman’s interior space may be explicitly private, the design of this project seeks to produce an alternative condition of interiority that is explicitly public.  Similar to Portman, this is carried out through a central chamber, however, it deviates as it is not enclosed.  

Two distinct pedestrian experiences inform the reading of a “loose figure” in this project.  First, visitors coming up from the planned Metro Purple line spill out into a submerged courtyard framed above and below by an accumulation of block-like volumes.  From the street, a second pedestrian experience occurs as individuals encounter a looming object that appears to grow upward and outward.  Moving closer,  the individual blocks that make up the overall design become more apparent it is clear that this is not a building but rather a “building of buildings” with ample air, light and space lingering in between.    


Formal Logic: 
Corbelling Towers

On the corner of Constellation Boulevard and Avenue of the Stars, this mixed-use design for a hotel, office and retail space starts, more or less, in line with the city grid.  

At ground level four towers spring and, for the first 10-stories, climb upward and outward remaining distinctly separate (each with it’s own elevator core and vertical fire circulation.  As the primitive block volumes pile, they begin to corbel and also to gently rotate until, on three sides, they meet producing a navigable “ring” around the circumference of the building.  From this point forward the blocks continue to weave and twist, and the overall figure begins to contract until it reaches its highest point at the 30th floor—culminating with a tight four-sided arrangement of blocks with a closed-perimeter.

The “blocks” that make up the project are intentionally designed to be particularly “thin”—each is only 32’ and varies between 32 and 96’ in length.  This shallow depth of the block primitive isbeneficial on the office and retail levels as it allows for flexible partitioning of interior spaces and ample natural light exposure.  On the upper levels, this depth allows for an arrangement of hotel rooms that face outward and are accessed by a single loaded outdoor corridor circling the interior of the “hive.”

Program Distribution

Beginning two levels below grade, retail spaces are programmed in the block primitives up to the fourth level.

Office spaces are accommodated between floors four and ten as the blocks twist and corbel outward. 

The point at which the blocks produce a connected ring is the location of the hotel lobby.  From here, guests can transfer to a secondary set of elevators that will bring them to their hotel room and other related programmed spaces above.