Urban Oasis: Gardner 1050 by Lorcan O’Herlihy Architects (st.)

– Via ArchNewsNow

Gardner 1050 in West Hollywood is indicative of the current boom in multi-unit housing in Los Angeles. Designed by Lorcan O’Herlihy Architects (LOHA), the 10-unit project is a result of a series of studies into how various housing typologies could be re-invigorated to create new opportunities for living within the extremely tight economic and special parameters of the speculative housing market.

The location at 1050 North Gardner Street, just south of Santa Monica Boulevard, created an opportunity to add to the burgeoning urbanism of the eastern section of West Hollywood. As a model of medium-density courtyard housing development, LOHA used a variety of design strategies to elevate it above the more mundane infill developments typical of speculative housing.

Through simple forms and refined materials, the 15,000-square-foot, three-story project maintains the relationship between indoor and outdoor living space. The cubic form is wrapped around a central courtyard, and the units have been reduced and expanded in areas allowing a change in materials to vary the perception of façade and scale. On the western (front) elevation, the cut-away box is completed by a semi-transparent skin of cedar slats enveloping the courtyard and completing the corner at the garage entry. A dramatic stair clad in translucent glass provides a strong vertical element in an otherwise predominately horizontal composition. This stair functions as an entry marker that, at night, glows with a subdued lantern-like quality.

The primary materials consist of a painted cement board cladding system in 4-foot-wide panels; a system of horizontal cedar wood slats; translucent channel glass panels; and painted aluminum window frame projections in three colors. The horizontal wood slats encompass the entire second floor. Wood elements on the first and third levels help to break up the scale and create an integrated palette. While significant attention was paid to the exterior and its appearance within the surrounding urban fabric, the ultimate strength of the project is revealed from inside the “void” that is the courtyard. Here, there is a delicate balance between intimate and expansive. Landscaped with native drought-tolerant species, stainless-steel cables creep up to the third level walkways forming scaffolding for a “hanging garden.” This vertical foliage helps to moderate the strong urban quality of the courtyard and, in conjunction with a fountain near the entry, offers a peaceful oasis open to the sky. Furthering this sense of openness is the use of steel gratings for the walkways above that allow light to filter down into the courtyard. Gardner 1050 has garnered an AIA/LA Honor Award, a 2006 American Architecture Award, and a Westside Urban Forum Award.


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