Frank Gehry grows a new—and twisty—development on the Sunset Strip

Architecture Development Newsletter Unveiled West
Gehry's new development along along the Sunset Strip. (Gehry Partners, LLP)

Gehry’s new development along along the Sunset Strip. (Gehry Partners, LLP)

Frank Gehry must have a green thumb. First he snags the Los Angeles River and now Townscape Partners has released renderings and a model of the $300 million development on the site of the Garden of Allah, a former Mediterranean hotel rich with bohemian lore on the Sunset Strip. But what exactly is he growing?

“It was all white, the Garden of Allah. It was low rise, a lot of incense burning, and people in flowing gowns,” Gehry recalled to Architectural Record.

The new project replaces a strip mall and the design shows a typically Gehry Partners scheme: buildings clustered around a plaza. The firm used a similar strategy on a small scale with the 1984 Edgemar development in Santa Monica and on a grand scale with the proposed designs for Parcel Q across from Disney Hall.

Two residential towers flank a central retail volume and plaza. (Gehry Partners, LLP)

Two residential towers flank a central retail volume and plaza. (Gehry Partners, LLP)

Gehry’s compositional jumble of mixed-use development adds up to 333,600 square feet, with 249 residential units and retail spaces. Two residential towers—one 11-stories along Crescent Heights Boulevard and one 15-stories—flank the glassy, mall-esque central building, which will feature shops, cafes, and restaurants, topped by penthouses.

According to Record, the design is meant to be responsive to the scale of the street and partner Anand Devarajan was mindful about making the site feel “porous.”

The site is the former location of the famed Garden of Allah. (Gehry Partners, LLP)

The site is the former location of the famed Garden of Allah. (Gehry Partners, LLP)

This need for approachability may be in response to a group called Save Sunset Boulevard, which is fighting to block the project. In March, AN reported that anti-development lawyer Robert Silverstein, objected to “the project’s potential to add to congestion, dwarf local historic buildings, block views, and waste water and other resources.”

Townscape Partners plans to submit an Environmental Impact Review in the near future, with the hopes of breaking ground in winter 2016/17. (You can read the Draft Environmental Impact Report (PDF), here.)

Update: After seeing the new Gehry designs, the folks at Save Sunset Boulevard have had a change of heart. In a blog post on their website, Andrew Macpherson wrote: “As one would expect Frank Gehry has transformed the project from something that looked like an airport hotel into a landmark design. That Townscape listened to the voices of the neighborhood and brought in a great architect gives me great hope that they will continue to address our other concerns.”

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