Frank Gehry’s Ocean Avenue Project forges ahead in LA

by | 16 Jun 2020 | Design

The Frank Gehry-designed scheme features a hotel, apartments, retail space and much more. (Photo: Gehry Partners LLP)

Fresh details have been revealed about a Santa Monica scheme designed by starchitect Frank Gehry, which includes plans for a 120-room hotel.

The much-anticipated Ocean Avenue Project in Los Angeles’ Santa Monica neighbourhood appears to be gathering momentum, with new documents shedding light on what exactly is being planned. We find out more.

Ocean Avenue Project takes big step forward

The Ocean Avenue Project in Downtown Santa Monica has been in the works for nearly five years, but a newly published draft environmental study offers more information about the scheme than had previously been made available, according to real estate news provider Urbanize.

Spearheaded by property owners the Worthe family, who acquired the first corner of the two-acre plot at the junction of Ocean Avenue and Santa Monica Boulevard over 40 years ago, the project claims starchitect Frank Gehry as its designer in chief, and the plans for the mixed-use development are executed in Gehry Partners’ signature style. The development of this scheme involved deep community and stakeholder engagement, the outcomes of which have been reflected in Santa Monica’s revised Downtown Community Plan (DCP).

According to the project’s website: “The Ocean Avenue Project was first introduced to the community in 2013 through a Development Agreement application and community meeting at the local public library. Worthe and Gehry Partners heard the community’s concerns and utilised the valuable feedback they received to reimagine the entire design over the last four years. The extensive outreach process used in developing the approved DCP informed the revised project, resulting in a lower maximum height appropriate to the Downtown context.”

Frank Gehry’s vision to transform underused site

The Ocean Avenue Project will be developed on a site that currently houses a number of small commercial buildings and a surface car park. The site is configured in an L-shape, and Gehry’s designs include a number of built volumes across the site, with linkages breaking through at ground-floor level to provide access across the site and through to Ocean Avenue, Santa Monica Boulevard and 2nd Street.

At pedestrian level, the storefronts have been modulated to create an engaging and active facade. The building heights vary, and the tallest point, a slender tower, rises to 130 ft, while terraces, decks and viewing points permeate the development, allowing visitors, guests and residents panoramic views out towards the Pacific Ocean and Santa Monica Pier. Among the scheme’s many amenities are a 120-key hotel, 100 private apartments, retail and F&B units, and an extensive museum and gallery campus.

The official website concludes: “The proposed project is the culmination of many years of thoughtful consideration, community feedback, and important work. It will bring a mix of uses to an underutilised site, refresh historic landmarks, contribute to our cultural amenities, provide much-needed market, family and affordable housing, and create new lodging and entertainment for residents and visitors alike. The design will give this location a prominent place in our city’s history – celebrating the past, present and future.”

Ground-breaking is expected to take place in 2021, with the scheme welcoming occupants in late 2024.

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