UNIQUE APPLICATIONS IN ARCHITECTURE & LIGHT
The Desmond at Wilshire Apartments Moderne Miracle
16 28 The Lexington
Polished Perfect Luxe Lacquer
Architects Orange reanimates historic Wilshire Boulevard in Los Angeles with a residential tower in the Streamline Moderne style
ISSUE 618 â€¢ 2018
OFFERING A WORLD OF
Emergency Lighting & Fire Alarm Devices
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6 The Desmond at Wilshire Apartments Photography by Chet Frohlich and Les Tirmenstein
15 Global Lighting News 16 Polished Perfect Photography by Geoffrey Ragatz
26 Product Showcase
28 The Lexington
Photography by Brandon Stengel
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TA B L E O F
CONTENTS The Desmond at Wilshire Apartments
MIRACLE Architects Orange reanimates historic Wilshire Boulevard in Los Angeles with a residential tower in the Streamline Moderne style
Wilshire Boulevard in Los Angeles is a tale of boom, bust and boom again like so many other thoroughfares throughout the United States. But Wilshire’s current iteration, and its profile as a thriving area in which to live, work and play, owe a great deal to the presence of a new mixed-used residential building: The Desmond at Wilshire Apartments. Designed by Architects Orange, a firm based in Orange, California, specializing in retail, restaurant, mixed-use and multifamily residential projects, The Desmond occupies a significant corner on Wilshire where its Streamline Moderne-style architecture and glass-clad contemporary profile are reinvigorating an all-but-abandoned stretch of the famous “Miracle Mile.” First, the backstory. In the early 1920s, a developer named A. W. Ross decided to transform an unpaved farm road—which ran through dairy farms and bean fields— into a new commercial district. He called that portion of Wilshire Boulevard he
We incorporated a contemporary approach that creates an iconic corner while not competing with the department store’s tower.” – Ed Cadavona, Design
Partner, Architects Orange
The Desmond at Wilshire Apartments
Architects Orange Ed Cadavona, Design Partner Photography by Chet Frohlich and Les Tirmenstein
The Desmond incorporates numerous outdoor spaces that maximize Californiaâ€™s indoor/outdoor lifestyle, including a pool deck and sheltered outdoor living space (this page), and balconies and streetscape seating (opposite).
intended to develop Miracle Mile, foreseeing the area’s seemingly improbable rise to prominence. Ross intended to create a shopping mecca to rival that of downtown Los Angeles. He succeeded. In 1929, Desmond’s Department Store opened, its grand tower anchored by a two-level extension and designed in the Art Deco style. The store signified a new age of elegance on Wilshire Boulevard. Other anchor buildings followed, including in 1939 the May Company Department Store, designed in the Streamline Moderne style that was all the rage at the time. As sun seekers and fortune hunters poured into the fast-growing city, Ross’s parcel became one of Los Angeles’s most desirable areas. More retail stores and commercial highrises sprang up along the boulevard, many of them also featuring Art Deco or Streamline Moderne architecture. Museums also took root; so many in fact—including the La Brea Tar Pits pavilions and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art—that one stretch of Wilshire was named “Museum Row.” Today, two Historic Preservation Overlay Zones ensure significant architecture remains intact. The oncoming Purple Line subway extension will link Wilshire Boulevard to downtown Los Angeles and surrounding areas. The May Company Department Store has been adaptively reused to house the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures. And in the former parking lot next to Desmond’s Department Store is the residential jewel of the Miracle Mile, The Desmond on Wilshire Apartments. “The developers, the Ohio-based Associated Estates, asked us to design in response to the Art Deco and Streamline Moderne styles already nearby, including buildings like the storied Desmond’s Department Store,” says Ed Cadavona, Design Partner, Architects Orange. “Rather than emulate or copy those styles, we studied their proportions to design The Desmond in response. But we also incorporated a contemporary approach that creates an iconic corner while not competing with the department store’s tower.”
The new apartment complex defers to the Desmond’s Department Store tower in the background (above) while infusing the block with color, light, a new materiality and a distinctive presence that includes a Moderne-style façade for the main entrance (right).
In fact, The Desmond includes a new urban plaza that it shares with the adjacent Art Deco historic landmark; the plaza also unifies the burgeoning area of retail ventures, residential buildings and coffee shops with a new public open space. On its west side, the building further enhances the district’s livability with a series of forecourts along the 50 ground-level, live-work units. With large glass Nana walls that fold open and closed, these units and their adjacent courtyards are interstitial spaces that both soften and activate the streetscape. “The weather here in LA is so great, we wanted to introduce live/work spaces with an indoor/outdoor relationship on the first floor that really engage passersby,” Cadavona says.
On the seven-story building’s main corner, the designers created a bold curve with a Moderne-style façade using an Oldcastle Glazing storefront system contemporized with supporting columns. “The site itself is trapezoidal, which posed a challenge, but the shape also lent itself to this form, so it’s a positive,” Cadavona explains. “The shape and materials create a strong sense of verticality, a cool urban vibe, and highlight the leasing offices inside the lobby— especially at night.” LED lighting on the balconies frames the front entrance and draws the eye up to the open-air deck at the top of the building.
Architects Orange utilized light to create transportive spaces, whether incorporating globe lights (above) or unique cove lighting in the public spaces (right top), or allowing sunsets (right middle) and daylight to add character to outdoor areas (right middle and right lower).
Inside the lobby, cream and gold globe fixtures, their lighting computerized and operable by staff, extend from a wall of ceramic tile that resembles reclaimed wood. Subtle lighting behind glass-paneled walls also provides a lovely backdrop that illuminates the globe lights, which also hang, as pendants, from the ceiling. â€œThe lighting helps create visual movement in the lobby, which is long and narrow,â€? Cadavona says. Floor tile in a herringbone pattern and comfortable furnishings upholstered in gold and deep-blue material add a rich warmth to the already glowing leasing and gathering areas in the lobby. In addition to live/work spaces, The Desmond includes an array of luxury living units, including flats, lofts and unique top-level double-height penthouses with private roof decks. The units feature open floor plans with the kitchen, living and dining areas flowing together. Pendant lights over the kitchen islands add multiple layers of illumination that supplement abundant daylight. Designer amenities surround the south-facing podium-level pool deck, including an alfresco dining room and automated outdoor movie screen. A common rooftop terrace affords views of downtown LA, the Hollywood Hills and the Hollywood sign. A linear pet park on the south side of the building acts as a buffering oasis.
Architects Orange designed each side of the complex to respond to the neighborhood’s existing context, while featuring playful rhythms and unexpected angles.
At the residence’s main entrance, Reysta Siding and stucco alternate with the rhythm of the rectangular storefront glass. The building’s other façades also feature playful rhythms and unexpected angles. “We broke up the façade on the live/work side with materials like horizontal fiber-cement siding, corner windows and vertical planes of color inspired by nearby buildings, all of which help break down the massing,” Cadavona says. One side also incorporates brick out of respect to an adjacent building. Through historically sensitive and visionary design, The Desmond’s architecture links Wilshire Boulevard’s historic past and thriving present. “The design is a fresh response to a historic urban context undergoing renewal,” Cadavona says. “It’s also a trend setter, in that we provided the client and the city with everything they wanted and the area needed. By drawing from the strategies of the Art Deco movement and Moderne style, we designed a residential project that utilizes modern materials, simple geometries and building elements as ornament, creating a look that’s unique in the area.” n – CLF
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Lacquer Erin Morris Architects, Inc., burnishes a California nail salonâ€™s brand with an elegant, modern aesthetic on a budget
Erin Morris Architect, Inc. Erin Morris, Founder and Architect Photography by Geoffrey Ragatz
While Morris adhered to each shopping area’s template on the exterior (above), she devised a new design for the interiors that reflects and enhances Polished Perfect’s brand (right).
Beauty and wellness guru Twila True realized California’s Orange County wasn’t lacking in nail salons. But the entrepreneur, CEO and President of True Family Enterprises—an investment firm with entities including True Investments, True Fresh HPP, True Venture Capital, Twila True Fine Jewelry and Twila True Beauty—knew those salons were lacking considerably in hygiene, customer service and sensibility. “The cleanliness wasn’t impressive,” True told the Los Angeles Times. “You’d pick the nail polish out of plastic bins, there were no fashion trends and the employees weren’t keen on assistance. I wanted to elevate the experience.” True decided to expand her portfolio with a luxury nail salon. Located in Costa Mesa, the new salon would offer manicures, pedicures and nail art choices using products True created that are free of formaldehyde, camphor, dibutyl phthalate and other toxic agents. She called the new venture Polished Perfect. Polished Perfect’s flagship salon was a success. Then True realized the budget to build out the luxury salons wasn’t cost effective. Enter Erin Morris. “The Polished Perfect team was concerned that the cost for Polished Perfect’s beautiful stores didn’t pencil with plans for
growth,” says Morris, Founder and Architect, Erin Morris Architect, Inc., Newport Beach, CA. “We collaborated with the entire team in adapting the design to embody the same luxe feel but at a fraction of the build cost.” Morris began by creating a design template that would put Polished Perfect’s existing brand forward. “My personal background is in retail—ground-up developments and commercial projects,” she explains. “In the last seven years, I’ve been digging deeply into the needs of individual retailers who have new, exciting typologies and are reframing ways of thinking about service in order to set themselves apart. Polished Perfect is one of those companies.” Polished Perfect’s brand is luxury, with a gold logo incorporating four petals in a diamondlike shape. In addition to gold, the color palette is simply black and white. “The logo and color palette are very restrained and elegant, as well as high contrast,” Morris explains. “The branding communicates that Polished Perfect is an elevated and sophisticated pedicure and manicure experience. Our job was to help Twila translate the brand in its two-dimensional form—as logo and website—into a three-dimensional space with similar elegance, freshness and modernity.”
True was drawn to natural polished marble and black quartz with lots of gloss and pristine edges, “so we looked at materials we could use instead that fit the budget, but still have that aesthetic and tactile quality,” Morris says. For the manicure stations at the back of the salon, Morris selected black engineered quartz. “The long manicure bars visually anchor the back of the store,” Morris explains. “People’s hands look beautiful on top of the surface, as it’s luxe, shiny and a bit glittery.” The chairs are upholstered in black and cream. Guests are invited to remove their rings and bracelets and place them in an individual, gold-and-glass box that replicates the logo’s diamond shape. “Polished Perfect has such great attention to detail,” Morris says. Behind the nail bar are wood shelves—on which gold-capped bottles of polish are lined up by color—that bracket a diamondshaped mirror. The wall itself is covered in a custom wallpaper with a gold-and-cream diamond-like pattern. Next to the nail bar is a white wall partition of three-dimensional, interlocking pieces. The panels, by Modular Arts, arrive in segments that are fit together, the joints filled and sanded, and then painted. The partition not only provides visual interest in the space; it also hides the entrance to the rest room. On the walls behind the plush, pillowed chairs for pedicure customers are similar MDF wall panels in a sculpted pattern.
The design template embellishes Polished Perfect’s luxury brand with a color palette of gold, black and white, and design details that reflect the logo’s diamond shape (left). Morris also designed display cases for the salons’ retail products (above).
Morris incorporated a ceiling “cloud” to add a sense of intimacy to the space’s volume and inserted recessed and pendant lights for ambience (above). Glass cabinets were constructed using square-tube framing in a powdercoated gold metal (right).
“The panels add texture, shadows and visual interest in a way that’s repeatable in multiple stores,” Morris says. “They also contrast with the sculptural black pendant lamps and the black chairs throughout the space.” The lighting package Morris designed was made possible using an Armstrong grid system, or “cloud,” that lowers the ceiling for a greater feeling of intimacy. “The cloud breaks up the ceiling’s horizontal mass and imparts a feeling that’s more enclosed and contained in this large volume,” she says. Embedded in the cloud are LED lights. The cloud also has recessed portions in which Morris hung white cylinder pendant lamps. Cove lighting around the perimeter of the cloud softens the room with ambient light that can be adjusted throughout the day. “The initial level of lighting is a combination of cylinder pendants and recessed lighting, which is visually neutral,” she explains. “Then we layered in the black sculpted pendants that add geometry that fits with the brand.”
“We needed to come up with a design template Twila could replicate on a budget in order to launch the brand forward.” – Erin Morris, Founder and Architect
White custom panels add visual interest, texture and shadows, and can be easily replicated in each location. Sculptural black pendants reflect the shape of Polished Perfectâ€™s diamond logo (top and above).
The porcelain-tile, marble-look floor also reflects Polished Perfect’s brand. “The flooring adds gloss and shine, which is the look of the brand, but it’s also super durable, easy to maintain and cost effective,” Morris says. Glass cabinets displaying Polished Perfect retail items were constructed using square-tube framing in a powder-coated gold metal, an inset light box and glass shelves, with white-gloss Formica doors below. Cleanliness is paramount at Polished Perfect. Instead of jetted pedicure tubs, True selected cozy custom armchairs with individual pedicure bowls, which are cleaned and disinfected after each use. To ensure service tools are pristine, True invested in a specialized Pure Lab sterilization autoclave system. The pressurized steam and high heat destroy thermo-tolerant organisms and sterilize the metal tools. “We were all very hands on throughout the design and construction process,” Morris says. “We closely analyzed each component—from furniture to plumbing to mechanicals—to make sure the salon would enjoy the highest levels of efficiency with the best look possible.” Moreover, Morris adds, “to come through at the right price point was the big challenge. We needed to come up with a design template Twila could replicate on a budget in order to launch the brand forward.” Forward she has gone. True has since expanded from the flagship studio in Costa Mesa to locations in Brea and Irvine’s Los Olivos Marketplace. Morris designed both. “What’s inspiring about Twila and Polished Perfect is the clear vision she has of what the company is and wants to be,” Morris says. “It’s fun to help people with a great vision articulate how they want to serve their guests and make them feel fantastic.” “Our process is also extremely hands-on, in terms of exploring how every aspect of the design will serve the outcome the client is seeking,” she adds. “With retail, time is money. The faster we can design, build out and get the doors open, the faster they can serve their clients. Together, we deliver service.” n – CLF
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VINTAGEVIBE ESG Architects restores the gloss and glam of a St. Paul grand dame, delighting generations devoted to dining and cocktailing
Opened in 1935 at the end of prohibition, when the neighborhoods around Grand and Lexington avenues in the capital city of St. Paul were home to Minnesotaâ€™s railroad, lumber and grain barons, government heads and society mavens, The Lexington was the place to see and be seen. The restaurant and bar boasted opulent crystal chandeliers, rich wood paneling, leather-upholstered seating and a hidden staircase behind the coat check.
ESG Architects Ann Fritz, Partner, Director of Interiors Mark Whitenack, Senior Interior Designer Photography by Brandon Stengel
Decades of shenanigans ensued, along with myriad business deals, cocktail hours and milestone celebrations. Generations of St. Paulites dedicated to fine dining and cocktailing enjoyed The Lex (as it’s affectionately known), with its signature entrees, martinis and service— along with a glass of cigarettes at every table. But more than anything, The Lex was beloved for its ambience: dark, mysterious, intimate. It was place where you could get away with most anything—and people did.
The original wood paneling, beams and crystal chandeliers in the The Lexâ€™s dining room were cleaned and restored (above), an observation window was created in the new chefâ€™s dining room (middle), and wood paneling was cleaned and polished in the martini bar (above).
Our goal was to act as stewards of The Lex’s character; to preserve its memories and personality by being selective and respectful.” – Mark Whitenack, Senior Interior Designer
Then, in 2013, The Lex suddenly closed. An uproar ensued. But the new owners, Josh Thoma (a wildly successful restaurateur) and Jack Riebel (a well-renowned chef) were quick to promise The Lex’s adoring public that the grand dame would be back— and better than ever. And she is. “The hardest part of our job was reassuring people who had loved The Lex for so many years that we weren’t going to change their favorite place,” says Ann Fritz, Partner and Director of Interiors, ESG Architects, Minneapolis. “It’s still classic St. Paul. But now it also appeals to a younger clientele that wants a swanky, cool, supper club in which to drink, eat and hang out with friends.” One of ESG’s primary goals was to restore The Lex’s gloss and glimmer, dulled over the years by smoke, wear and tear, and disrepair. “We upgraded the lighting throughout The Lex to state-of-the-art LEDs,” explains Mark Whitenack, Senior Interior Designer, ESG. “We also used warm color temperatures to mimic warm incandescent lighting, which is very fitting to The Lex’s supper-club vibe.” “In the ceiling coffers, original neon tube cove lighting was burning out and flickering in places, giving the spaces a has-been feeling,” Whitenack adds. “We replaced all of this with warm (2400K) LED cove lighting.” Popcorn ceilings were meticulously smoothed out and painted white to reflect the warm glow of the new lighting, which “creates an almost heavenly aura,” he adds. Enriching the glow is the painstakingly restored, rich wood wall paneling in the three different rooms, which now “glistens just like in a Pledge commercial,” Fritz says with a laugh. In fact, every nook and cranny of The Lex, which is actually made up of three separate buildings, has been lovingly restored. “The whole place was rather dark and dingy, plus there’s very little natural light,” Fritz says. “Lighting was so important, in order to get the perfect mix of warmth, intimacy and illumination. We improved the light levels throughout and made all of the lights dimmable so the levels can be changed depending on the time of day or event.” ESG cleaned and reinstalled the historic crystal chandeliers in the dining room, which now has lustrous refurbished wood paneling and ceiling trim, luxurious curved booths and new carpets. In the new chef’s room, the paneling was painted a stylish gray. ESG also installed a window through which diners can watch the kitchen at work. In the kitchen, fluorescent lighting required by code was relegated to recessed cans “to retain the ambience, drama and energy of the kitchen,” Fritz explains, “without blasting the diners with light.”
In the Williamsburg Room, ESG created a new back bar, smoothed the ceilings and installed new LED cove lighting (above and top right).
In the martini bar, ESG removed the back bar, which was in great disrepair. In its place is a sleek, new, but vintage-looking back bar in shiny black-lacquered wood, with frosted backlit art glass and an etched-mirror finish. Two vertical light boxes on either side of the back bar provide subtle illumination. The existing curved front bar was refinished in the same black-lacquer paint. A new half wall topped with illuminated glass separates the bar’s high seating from the room’s more intimate low seating of button-tufted velvet banquettes and leather chairs around small tables. In the Williamsburg Room, a discrete piano bar long closed except for special events, the refurbished carved-wood paneling and trim gleam alongside pops of contemporary color. The back bar and bar area received the same treatment as in the martini bar. New luxury furnishings
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The martini bar also got a new back bar and illuminated glass room divider (above).
include red-velvet and black-leather banquettes with mirrored tables; gray-blue leather club chairs around low tables; tufted leather lounge seating in front of the restored fireplace; and contemporary art and vintage lighting. The stained-glass window was cleaned and repaired to bring in light during the day and serve as an art object at night. Accent pendants provide additional lighting over corner booths. Behind the piano in the Williamsburg Room, a stairway leads to the second-floor event space. A grand staircase, inside The Lex’s front entry, also winds up to the event space and rooftop patio. In the event room, ESG added millwork and a ceiling frieze. A sliding wall allows the room to be divided so The Lex can host two events simultaneously. On the roof, an indoor/outdoor kitchen and bar were inserted into a former mechanical room. Festoon or “twinkle” lights create a cozy, backyard ambience on the new roof deck and “provide the feeling of having shelter overhead without having to build a structure,” Fritz says. Acoustic panels keep the noise down in the neighborhood. Wood pavers were used to create a warm, parquet-like floor.
“Creating a new event space and new rooftop deck, where nothing existed before but storage, really completed The Lex’s reinvention,” Whitenack says. “Those additions made The Lex more viable in today’s market, in which people are always looking for new and unique experiences, as well as ways to move around within an establishment to enjoy new vantage points and experiences.” Additional structural elements support the new elevator in the back hallway, which connects the renovated restaurant and bars on the lower level with the new event space and rooftop on the upper levels. “The discreetly placed elevator opened up new revenuegenerating spaces for the owners without impacting the flow and vibe of the downstairs areas,” Whitenack says. The bathrooms were redone with subway tile “that has a vintage look and feels original,” Whitenack says. New tile and carpet were installed. “Throughout the renovation, we really paid close attention to creating a balance between new and existing, to bring The Lex up to date while maintaining its heritage,” he adds. On The Lex’s exterior, the Juliet balconies were refurbished and the red neon sign glows. For a multi-generational clientele devoted to dining and cocktailing in a supper-club atmosphere, ESG’s respectful renovation was worth the wait. The distinguished establishment now includes distinctive areas for enjoying The Lex’s singular ambience. “The Lex has a space for everyone,” Whitenack says: “A classic supper-club dining room for the older crowd, the chef’s room for foodies, the martini bar for power lunching,
ESG refurbished The Lex’s signature Juliet balconies and the red-lit sign on the front of the building (below), and created a new rooftop deck for casual diners (left).
the Williamsburg Room for the hipsters, and the roof-top deck for the casual folks. Our approach to creating exciting new and unique spaces while maintaining the vintage vibe of The Lex has given it new legs.” At the same time, The Lex feels old, like a throwback. “The Lex is timeless. It’s an institution,” Whitenack says. “Our goal was to act as stewards of The Lex’s character; to preserve its memories and personality by being selective and respectful.” Now that The Lex has reopened, whether guests are creating new memories or reviving old traditions, their table is ready. n – CLF
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