Silicon Beach California got even hotter last month with the arrival of Metro’s Expo Rail to Santa Monica. Tech and production firms teeming in the area (such J.J. Abrams’ Bad Robot) are now served by trains from Downtown L.A. to the ocean. One of the few available creative buildings celebrated this arrival with a pop-up mural installation curated by ArtCenter College of Design . Expo-themed street art flows inside and outside the space, 1301 Colorado, adjacent to the rail line.
Developer New Urban West purchased the 17,000-square-foot, 1960s building last year and hired 2015 AIA National Firm Award winner Ehrlich Yanai Rhee Chaney Architects (formerly Ehrlich Architects) to transform the rundown warehouse into chic tech studios. No tenant has yet been announced.
Until the design firm starts construction, the muralists have their train-centric canvas. They include not just ArtCenter students and associates, but two famous illustrators: Brian Rea, artist and illustrator of The New York Times Modern Love column, and Clive Piercy, principal at renowned design agency Air Conditioned. Both are on ArtCenter faculty and each claimed a broad swath of 1301 Colorado’s exterior. (The installation is an extension of ArtCenter’s widely heralded 2015 OUTSIDEIN exhibition of international muralists.)
“This raw industrial space practically demanded to be re-imagined by one of the industry’s leading architecture firms,” said Jason Han, a partner leading the marketing effort at New Urban West. “The redesign goes to the heart of Silicon Beach style.”
It includes soaring ceilings, natural light on the interior, exposed-wood structural spans, and reclaimed concrete floors—even bike and surfboard storage.
“The unveiling is all the more exciting because of the collaboration with ArtCenter,” said Han. “We are thrilled to have Brian Rea and Clive Piercy interpret the train connection. Their work is now enjoyed by tens of thousands of Angelenos riding past it each day on the Expo Line.”
The architects are equally jazzed: “We love the challenge of bringing new life to under-utilized, tired buildings,” said Steven Ehrlich, Founding Partner, Ehrlich Yanai Rhee Chaney Architects. “The explosion of creative office and activity around the metro line extension made this project an exciting one for us, we designed in abundant transparency on the façade, maximizing visual connections to the surrounding community.”
The LEED-targeted space includes: Indoor/outdoor terraces, western-facing glass rollup doors, 17-foot ceilings, polished concrete floors, dark fiber connectivity, operable skylights, subterranean parking with valet option and elevator, drought-tolerant landscaping, and a mezzanine overlooking the expansive, column-free floorplan.—by Jack Skelley