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Lorcan O’Herlihy Architects

Los Angeles, California, United States

July 2021


Lorcan O’Herlihy (Architect)


Labib Funk Associates / Melissa Doorn (Structural Engineer), Labib Funk Associates / Frank Larocca (Civil Engineer), L.A. Group / Julia Ledbetter (Landscape Architect), Ariel Fox Design / Ariel Johnson (Interior Design)


CIM Group


Here And Now Agency / Paul Vu


With the aim of favoring pedestrian encounters, several strategies are used at ground level to anchor the building to the street. Rather than one massive, imposing facade, three discreet wedge-shaped volumes appear along Santa Monica Boulevard, each of them deftly touching down on the pavement. The design breaks down the bulk typical of most housing projects showcasing residential and pedestrian experiences at street level. Bridges link the volumes at three upper levels and the shapes define a trio of parterres, landscaped with drought resistant plantings. The largest of these has a pool and all have movable seating to foster social gatherings of every scale. A lifting effect is further enhanced through a sequence of large strategic carve-outs, shaped like inverted prisms, placed at the corners of the complex. Besides providing breathing room beneath the structure, the voids push the building back from the property line, with the added benefit of widening the sidewalk. The structures are clad in a gray fluted metal which catches and reflects the sun light as it passes, raking the surface and activating the ribbed panels. Instilled in the ethos that drives LOHA is an attitude that considers environmental sustainability inherent to good design. At Granville1500 passive design strategies including exterior access to units bringing cross-ventilation and natural light; and water conservation achieved by reclaiming and managing rainwater on site as well as incorporating drought resistant vegetation in landscaping. Bicycle storage, electric vehicle charging stations, and rooftop solar are among many other sustainable strategies employed.


Route 66, the legendary highway that linked Chicago to Los Angeles before it was superseded by interstate freeways, was once known as “America’s Main Street”. The last stretch, before the highway meets the Pacific--Santa Monica Boulevard-is a bleak reminder of how life was drained from the main streets all over the country in service of the automobile bringing with it low-density sprawl. The dreary succession of cheap storefronts and workshops is ripe for reinterpreting. A new “missing-middle” housing typology has emerged, one that has expanded in scale and placement to the edges of the neighborhoods, along commercial corridors, and busy thoroughfares (where automotive repair shops and warehouses once stood.) With these changes comes a need to bridge these new missing-middle communities to the neighborhoods and streets that they straddle. Granville1500 celebrates the urban experience, while providing 153-units offered at below-market rates to UCLA medical students, residents, and graduate students. The project reinforces a sense of place and the feeling of arrival in an area that was once inaccessible and lacking urban life. The block-long parcel was previously a car dealership, but now
serves as a model for denser, mixed-use development bringing scale and character complementary to pedestrian activation.


Though it was constructed on a tight budget, it has engaged with its environment in contrast to the siloed self-styled ‘luxury’ apartment towers scattered around West Los Angeles. Granville1500 has created spaces for civic engagement within it’s urban context, and enlivened an area sorely in need of uplift. The resulting “urban village” engages the public though it’s engaging public/private design, while cultivating an activated residential enclave. This project changes the conversation of what a neighborhood can be. There is a constant sense of discovery as one walks around the blocks and linger in the spaces between—a tension between mass and void—and a steady rhythm in the fenestration. Through the careful allocation of residential density in three masses stitched together by communal spaces, a thriving neighborhood within a neighborhood has flourished. Upon completion, UCLA acquired Granville1500, recognizing that the development could offer students a more faceted environment than conventional academic housing less embedded in West Los Angeles. Transportation options continue to develop, connecting the complex to UCLA. Just a short bus or bicycle ride from campus and the beach, one can imagine this former traffic artery being narrowed and landscaped in the not-so-distant future, with outdoor restaurants and cafes, bicycle paths, and a central lane for electric buses, self-driving cars, and autonomous nighttime deliveries.

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