Ken Ryan – Little Saigon Project Honors More Than Vietnamese Culture

August 24, 2017

WESTMINSTER, CA—KTGY Architecture + Planning recently revealed its plans and design for IP Westminster LLC’s new “experiential urban lifestyle” development here currently called Bolsa Row, which will serve as the gateway to the existing “Little Saigon,” the largest Vietnamese community in the US. Bolsa Row is geared to all social and cultural elements found today throughout Orange County and is reflective of timeless design elements sought after by all ages and demographics, Ken Ryan, KTGY principal and head of its Community Planning and Urban Design Studio in Irvine, CA, tells

Plans have been submitted to the City and are currently under review for Bolsa Row, which is located on 6 acres on the southeast corner of Bolsa Ave. and Brookhurst St. Plans include a five-story, 150-room hotel, which is the area’s first, and a five-story, 201-unit apartment community with a mix of studios and one- and two-bedroom apartment homes. The design currently includes approximately 60,000 square feet of ground-floor experiential and lifestyle retail, restaurant space and an event facility. The plan is connected by a “festival street,” a pedestrian-friendly retail promenade that could host Southeast Asian summer market nights and similar events.

A landscaped “celebration bridge” with seating areas will connect the event hall to the hotel’s second-story roof garden. The bridge enhances the pedestrian circulation, establishes active and passive uses and provides an outdoor event space with access to the indoor reception halls.

We spoke with Ryan exclusively about the project and some of the complexities that go along with designing a project of this scope that’s geared toward a particular cultural group.

Active frontages will engage the festival street and orient activity toward the interior of the site, minimizing potential impacts to existing residential neighbors. What is unique for you about this project?

Ryan: We turned several unique challenges into distinct opportunities for Bolsa Row. The site is only 6 acres, and the development program has four dynamic uses of hotel, retail district, banquet hall and residential living, each with its own pragmatic functionality requirements. The uniqueness of Bolsa Row is not so much about fitting those uses on the site, but rather connecting each of them in a way that creates “one place” where all activities merge and complement each other in order to create synergy and a strong social realm. What are some of the complexities that go along with designing a project of this scope that’s geared for a particular cultural group?

Ryan: Bolsa Row was designed to evoke the community spirit of pre-1970s Vietnam and, in that light, not so much designed as a literal interpretation of French Colonial architecture in Vietnam, but rather, and more importantly, to evoke the gracious lifestyle associated with celebrations, weddings, retail experience, community functions, comfortable residential living and a pleasant atmosphere. The project is geared to all social and cultural segments found today throughout Orange County certainly honoring the Vietnamese culture, but also being reflective of timeless design elements sought after by young and old and all demographics.

The festival retail street will connect the residential residences to the south, the banquet facility to the north and the hotel to the east.

The area is envisioned to include up to 210 apartments with supporting amenities and ground-floor retail uses. Are you seeing more projects of this type being developed?

Ryan: Yes, we are finding more and more desire for “places” that have character and charm and have inviting spaces in a more 24/7 daytime and nighttime setting. Bolsa Row has been designed to respond to the human experience, where there is activity and serenity, order and discovery, finesse and boldness. It’s a place that we believe will attract people, appeal to the senses and become a special place for residents and visitors alike. What else should our readers know about this project?

Ryan: One of the exciting design aspects of Bolsa Row is not only the strong horizontal connections, but also memorable vertical elements creating visual, physical and emotional connections. An iconic celebration bridge spanning the hotel and banquet hall, an elevated wedding/event garden, an elevated pool courtyard, a secret garden, and a festival street that can be closed for special events while allowing all uses to function properly are features not found often in one 6-acre project.