October 28, 2016
By Dennis Kaiser
Southern California is experiencing a strong swell of development across the major property types. That activity encompasses a staggering number of residential towers underway in DTLA, as well as an interesting mix of housing projects in other residential product categories. In the second of a series of 3 CRE Q&A’s, Connect Media asked Johnson Fain design partner, Scott Johnson, FAIA, to share how the architecture practice approaches the design of high-density, mixed-use projects. His insights reveal what’s driving the urban housing resurgence, what projects are in demand and what makes projects work.
Q: What draws residents to mixed-use neighborhoods today?
A: The best mixed-use neighborhoods are full of life and services. Choice abounds in food, recreation, entertainment and cultural opportunities. Fully developed mixed-use environments feel safe as there is a strong public presence and the public right-of-way is active after dark. When these neighborhoods are reasonably dense, life is generally a walkable experience, healthier and without the challenge of navigating streets and parking. A great example is LA Plaza Village, which recently broke ground in downtown Los Angeles. This dense mixed-use project will attract residents and visitors with a rooftop food garden, grocer, multiple dining options, and an active public paseo that will connect Union Station to nearby cultural destinations.
Q: What are the drivers of mixed-use projects today?
A: Being around like-minded people is a basic tribal instinct. Also, being around people you admire or wish to be like is another basic instinct. Having friends or colleagues nearby and enjoying social or recreational pleasures together speak to the first. Cultural opportunities which involve performance, fine arts or sports speak to the second. An example of a mixed-use project, designed by Johnson Fain, that successfully incorporates these drivers is Runway at Playa Vista. The project has been a huge success as it serves as a diverse and relaxed community center for the creatives of Silicon Beach to live, work and play.
Q: What are some of the more popular programs, services and amenities?
A: Fitness has become a huge social magnet. Whether working out alone or together, being in a location where a resident can meet and interact with others is important. Other elective amenities allow like-minded residents to find and develop friendships whether poolside, in a sports lounge, or over a barbecue. The best tenant management companies frequently create programming which brings residents in closer contact with their community, and by extension, their project.
*Johnson Fain designed Runway at Playa Vista for Lincoln Property Company, Phoenix Property Company and Paragon Commercial Group; and LA Plaza Village for High Street Residential, the Cesar Chavez Foundation and the LA Plaza de Cultura y Artes Museum.
For comments, questions or concerns, please contact Dennis Kaiser