Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles Moving HQ to Pico Union

LAFLA's proposed headquarters, viewed from the corner of 8th Street and Union Avenue.

According to an initial study recently published by the Department of City Planning, the Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles (LAFLA) is about to embark on a complete rebuild of its modest Pico Union office.  Contingent on city approvals, plans call for the forgettable low-rise building at 1550 W. 8th Street to be demolished.  In its place, LAFLA would construct a four-story structure, containing approximately 34,000 square feet of office space and a 33-car parking garage.  In addition, the building would feature more than 9,000 square feet of private open space, consisting mostly of terraces and balconies on upper floors.

The rebuilt Pico Union office - more than quadruple the size of the existing two-story facility - would become LAFLA's new headquarters, absorbing all operations currently housed on Crenshaw Boulevard.  Planning documents describe the new headquarters as "modern, efficient and client-friendly."  Its central location, in close proximity to densely-populated neighborhoods such as Westlake and Koreatown, will facilitate LAFLA's mission to provide quality legal services to impoverished families and individuals.

The proposed office building is being designed by House & Robertson Architects, the Culver City-based firm which has recently made waves for the proposed remodel of the Peterson Automotive Museum.  Their vision for Pico Union is significantly less ostentatious: Facade materials for LAFLA's new building would consist mostly of glass and earth-tone cement plaster.

A total of three zoning variances will be needed build the project in its current form.  Specifically, LAFLA has requested 1) a reduction in the building's total parking requirement, 2) a permit to include more compact parking spaces than allowed by code and 3) the elimination of an on-site loading space at the back of the property.  Should the city grant these requests, the new office building is scheduled to complete its 13-month build-out in 2016.

Northern elevation

Image credit: S.L. Leaonard & Associates, Inc.

Image credit: S.L. Leonard & Associates, Inc.

1550 W. 8th Street

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