Gehry a Go Go

Gehry complex on Sunset Strip approved with affordable housing component

(Courtesy Visualhouse / Gehry and Partners)

A tweaked configuration for Gehry Partners’ $300-million design for 8150 Sunset was approved by the Los Angeles City Planning Commission (LACPC) this week, marking a big step forward for what could be one of L.A.’s newest architectural icons.

As part of the approval, Gehry’s 249-unit, mixed use project, containing 65,000 square feet of retail space, will need to include 37 units of affordable housing, instead of the 28 originally proposed. The increase, requested by the LACPC, comes out to about 15% of the overall unit count, a lower percentage than is typical in area municipalities that have an inclusionary housing mandate. The City of Los Angeles itself does not have an inclusionary housing requirement, though one is potentially in the works.

The 8150 Sunset Boulevard complex, developed by L.A.-based Townscape Partners, has fanned the type of neighborhood discontent that has become par-for-the course in the housing-deficient region, with a local councilperson and aggrieved area residents decrying the size, height, and potential traffic implications of the 334,000 square foot mixed use project.

Organized as a rumpled mish-mash of layered, vertically-oriented facade panels and bulging volumes with punched openings, the complex rises to various heights in a medley of configurations, typically between five and 15 stories above the city’s famed Sunset Strip. The project’s site will be carved up into various tree-lined public plazas, including a monumental staircase on the corner facing the famed Chateau Marmont.

Though the project has been cleared by the LACPC, it’s not totally out of the woods yet. An iconic mid-century structure on the site, currently housing a Chase Bank branch, has been nominated as a local historic cultural monument in efforts to save the structure from demolition. If the structure is indeed approved as a landmark during a hearing scheduled for August 18th, its demolition could face challenges, complicating the viability of Townscape Partners’ proposed project. A California Environmental Impact Report submitted for the project details a scheme that incorporates the structure’s reuse by reducing the overall retail component of the project and increasing the overall unit count to 291 dwellings.

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