Stick that in your Claw

Morphosis-designed Sunset Strip hotel lambasted by West Hollywood residents

The currently proposed design for 8850 Sunset Boulevard is winning few favors with the city’s residents. (Courtesy Kilograph)

Though the city of West Hollywood gave its approval to a construction timeline for 8850 Sunset Boulevard, an audaciously designed 15-story hotel and condominium by Morphosis that will replace the infamous Viper Room, the city’s residents are loudly singing a different tune. On October 10, several residents of West Hollywood attended a public meeting hosted by the city where they were given an opportunity to voice their opinions.

Most participants were concerned that the aesthetic profile of 8850 Sunset Boulevard and its presence on the Sunset Strip would not be considered in an environmental analysis, which is typically state-mandated for all buildings of this type. “It doesn’t belong on Sunset Boulevard,” said Jessica Hancock, a resident of West Hollywood for 47 years, before commenting that the proposal might be more fitting in cities like Dubai or Las Vegas. Another resident commented that the proposal is “too tall, too massive, and the design is grotesque.” According to Curbed, Doug Vu, the city’s senior planner responded to these and other aesthetic complaints by stating that the site’s proximity to a significant transit corridor can legally excuse its design from being subjected to state regulations, and that it “may not be considered an environmental issue per se under the California Environmental Quality Act.”

Others were concerned about its treatment of the Viper Room, the bar and nightclub cofounded in 1993 by Johnny Depp which currently sits on the site. Plus Development, the current development manager, plans to demolish the Viper Room, along with every structure on the block, and reconstitute the club into the ground floor of the new building, where its character will undoubtedly be altered.

Subsequent public meetings concerning 8850 Sunset Boulevard and other proposed developments along the Sunset Strip are planned to take place in the near future, as the environmental review continues—and as the makeup of the street shifts away from low-rise entertainment venues and towards luxury hotels and housing.

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