Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Robert A. M. Stern to Design Phase 1A of the Grand Avenue Project

The Grand Avenue Project's Phase 1 site, otherwise known as Parcel Q

After months of speculation, the LA Downtown News reported in January that Frank Gehry's $2 billion design for the Grand Avenue Project would not be moving forward.  Now, another architectural giant will try his luck with the long stalled development.  According to a document from the LA County Board of Supervisors, Robert A. M. Stern Architects (RAMSA) will be the new design architect for Phase 1A of the Grand Avenue Project.  Developer Related California also indicated to the Grand Avenue Authority that while there is no master plan for the development, they have been collaborating with San Francisco based Gensler to "look for a template that [works] for the entire site."

Under Related's revised plans for the Grand Avenue Project, Phase 1A calls for a 380 unit residential tower with ground level commercial space at the northeastern corner of 2nd Street and Grand Avenue.  While no specifics have been released regarding the Phase 1A tower's height, Related California President Bill Witte told the Downtown News that it could be taller than the 19-story Parcel M tower which broke ground earlier this year.  Witte also indicated that Related was considering a "hybrid building," featuring for-sale condominiums on the upper floors and rental units on the lower levels.  Groundbreaking for Phase 1A is tentatively scheduled for March 2015.

Phase 1B will consist of a 250 key hotel tower with commercial space on the 1st Street side of the parcel.  The hotel tower could also have 50 for-sale condominiums, should market conditions justify their inclusion.  However, neither an architect nor a timeline have been specified for this part of the development.

While Robert A. M. Stern has had a career that most architects could only dream of, RAMSA has designed few large scale projects in the Los Angeles area.  They previously collaborated with Related California on the 42-story condominium tower in West Los Angeles known as "The Century."  RAMSA is also responsible for the design of the proposed 29-story Gayley at Wilshire.

Two Robert A. M. Stern designs: The Century (L) and the Gayley at Wilshire (R)

Although Stern has a reputation for "throwback," designs, his firm has a knack for creating buildings that fit in well with their surroundings.  It will be interesting to see how their design complements the metallic, postmodern Walt Disney Concert Hall and the honeycombed Broad Museum on the opposite side of Grand Avenue.


  1. Thank yous again for the update! This is pretty amazing news and for as much as I like Gehry's work, Robert A.M Stern understands urbanism much better, and will probably create a building that functions as well as it looks - whereas Gehry creates sculptures that will pretty have no contextual hold for the area in which they are placed.

    1. I'm also a RAMSA fan. I know a lot of people find their work boring, but I think something more traditional might be exactly what the doctor ordered. Between Disney Hall and the Broad Museum, this intersection has plenty of architectural "wow," factor. Not sure that we need a third building fighting to be the center of attention.

  2. I hope it's more like the Comcast Center in Philadelphia and less like The Century. Both designed by A.M. Stern Architects.