FORM on Design: The Vermont Looks to the Future

Designed by the Jerde Partnership, the Vermont in Los Angeles’s Koreatown neighborhood offers a new vision for a historically non-residential piece of the city. Image courtesy the Jerde Partnership.

There’s a new kid on the block in Los Angeles’s Koreatown neighborhood—the Vermont, a new high rise on the bustling corner of Wilshire and Vermont. Developed by JH Snyder Co. and designed by the Jerde Partnership, it’s a dynamic statement on the current state of urban design in Los Angeles.

Already entitled when J.H. Snyder came on board, it soon became apparent that rather than 464 condos the same number of units should be rentals instead. The big question, according to Tammy McKerrow, senior vice president, design principal of Jerde, was, “How could we do a successful rental property in the heart of Los Angeles, where it’s mostly commercial office? There’s not much residential development.” 

For starters, McKerrow and her team reimagined the building itself, designing a pair of towers, opening up expansive views. “It created a higher sense of quality and urban living,” she explains. For potential residents, the building offers 360-degree views from all of the apartments, which range from 650 to 1,000 square feet and include well-thought out finishes. 

A retail component comes into play as well. However, it only has 35,000 square feet of space—facing Wilshire and Vermont—rather than the allowed 41,000, all the better to make it “really valuable,” says McKerrow. There’s plenty of livable sidewalk space as well, designed to feel “more like Seattle, San Francisco or Vancouver, which are all about the walking experience,” she says. “There are places for people to gather and stay as they’re coming out of the metro.” 

Park space completes the picture for the building, a requirement on the entitlement. Originally designed for the Shatto Place side of the building, Jerde moved it to the structure’s Wilshire side, giving 13,000 square feet to the community. “It leads to a more sustainable and livable community environment,” McKerrow says. (There’s green space on the building as well, which, beyond aesthetics, filters storm water.)

For potential residents, the building also offers outstanding proximity to Downtown and, via a new bike path, to USC. With the much-anticipated Red Line expansion, the Vermont will even offer subway access to UCLA and the Westside. Given the current and future opportunities planned for the area,  “This can be a new mixed-use core,” notes McKerrow, and the Vermont—and its residents—will be well-positioned to take advantage of the expanding opportunities. 

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