Los Angeles is a city deeply rooted in the automobile as well as the culture that surrounds it. The regional culture continues to be shaped, to some degree, by the prevalence of cars and the services that support them. Throughout the heart of the city, valuable real estate is occupied by auto-focused uses such as dealerships, parking structures, service repair stations, and the gas and charging stations that keep them on the road. As L.A. attempts to address its housing shortage with the production of new inventory, many of these auto-centric sites are being supplanted by new apartments and mixed-use developments. Rather than demolishing and building new, Jamison Properties’ Western Station is a rare example of a historic parking garage being preserved and incorporated as an integral part of a new mixed-use community.
The existing garage structure is part of an original development called Pellissier Square, which opened its doors to the public in 1931 as a parking structure, gas station and repair shop. Located in L.A.’s Koreatown neighborhood, the historic garage is an art-deco-inspired structure designed by Morgan Walls & Clements, the architects of the famed theater buildings, Wiltern Tower, El Capitan, Leimert and The Mayan in Los Angeles.
KTGY worked with the L.A. Department of City Planning and the Office of Historic Resources to reimagine the 90-year-old structure and include it as a key component in the plan to enhance the property. The existing structure, as it appeared in its latest iteration, was infused with small retail bays and cluttered with haphazard signage and orange paint in an effort to draw attention away from vehicular traffic. As part of the redesign, KTGY set out to simplify the cluttered language and return the structure to its original patterned façade that marched up, following the form of the garage ramping. In the new concept for the residentialfocused, mixed-use design, the existing garage is folded into the overall building composition to create a bold “T-formation.” This is where the new eight-story residential building will hold the edge of 8th Street to the north while the existing garage runs north-south set in from Western Avenue’s street frontage.
KTGY’s design approach was to preserve the existing garage as a strong grounding element to the site and allow it to both collide and engage with the new residential building. The intersection of the new and old forms creates moments where planes slip to allow for the engagement of the two masses into a singular gesture. This connection is emphasized with a slot at their intersection to visually detach the existing structure. This allows the garage to maintain its own identity and historic integrity while physically connecting to the residential building. A punctured glass form on the north side of the building hints at the collision, recognizing the section that has been dovetailed into the historic structure beyond.
While the new and old building forms retain some of their individuality, they become inextricably linked through programming. At their intersection, the residential amenity space spills out onto the roof of the historic structure like the rolling out of a green carpet. This new roof terrace space is laden with gardens, sitting areas, outdoor dining and, most notably, the pool deck, providing for stunning views north to the Hollywood sign and east towards the downtown skyline.
The building’s architecture is clad in a smooth, tight, bluegray that’s compatible with the cooler tones of the adjacent and historically connected Wiltern Tower. While clearly taking on its own new identity, the new mixed-use structure subtly introduces the Wiltern’s patinated green, which has become known locally as “Pellissier Green.” Those accents are woven into the north façade at locations that peel away the blue skin to reveal larger glazing components and balconies that provide texture and pattern across the building face.
At the historic garage, portions of the 1980s retail are punched out to create relief and a sense of arrival into the ground-floor retail. New signage components, storefront, murals, and lighting at the façade and entry alcove enhance the existing site while transforming it into a unique mixed-use experience.
Owner | Developer: Jamison Properties
Structural: John Labib + Associates
Mechanical | Plumbing | Electrical: Green MEP Engineering
Apartments | Retail
Density: 164 du/ac
Unit Plan Sizes: 450 – 1,000 sq. ft.
Number of Units: 230 du
Site Area: 1.4 ac
Retail: 13,377 sq. ft.
Number of Stories: 8
Parking: 139 spaces (0.5 sp./unit)
Construction Type: I, III