Lorcan O'Herlihy Architects [LOHA]

Lorcan O'Herlihy Architects [LOHA]

Los Angeles, CA



Social equity and sustainability drives the work of Lorcan O’Herlihy Architects (LOHA). Located on a corner lot just north of the US-101 Freeway in Los Angeles’ Silver Lake neighborhood, Bellevue53 seeks to elevate the urban environment through a uniquely articulated mixed-use project.  

Located just west of Downtown LA, the Silver Lake neighborhood has transformed in the past two decades from a sleepy Eastside enclave, to one of the city’s most vibrant creative communities. Yet, the majority of its housing stock has remained unchanged since the 1970s. The residential streets comprise a mix of historic homes and mid-century “missing middle” bungalows, duplexes, and fourplexes.

Today, there is a need for much more density. Not only to keep up with demand, but to retain a level of affordability in a housing market that has priced-out the majority of artists and ethnic communities responsible for giving the area its energy.  This kind of density in some neighborhoods, such as Silver lake, is beginning to rise up along the edges of neighborhoods, along commercial corridors where warehouses once stood. 

A new “missing-middle” housing typology has emerged, one that has expanded in scale and placement to the edges of these neighborhoods,  With these changes comes a need to bridge these communities to the neighborhoods and streets that they straddle. 

As Los Angeles densifies, the inevitable conflict between multi-unit housing and houses becomes increasingly apparent. By incorporating the types of spaces found in the surrounding neighborhood into a denser building - intimate green spaces, terraced hillsides, and plazas- this project has allowed the two disparate typologies to coexist.

Drawing inspiration from the neighborhood, LOHA developed a rhythmic massing that echoes the steep topography and reduces the scale of the building. The lower stepped articulations in the massing create a series of outdoor amenity decks. These decks are paired with open air circulation – offering both generous views of the city and a sustainable solution for development. Exterior unit entries, which are open to the sky, are one passive design strategy that provides cross ventilation that essential to a holistic environment. 

While public exterior decks animate each façade with favorable lighting conditions at different times of day – private punched balconies mark the elevations, ensuring every unit enjoys exterior access and natural light. Vertical metal panels provide articulation and interest along the street front that provides generous walkways and a plaza for pedestrians.

As Los Angeles embraces densification, the tension between multifamily living and single-family homes intensifies. LOHA’s Bellevue53 project eases this tension by weaving the essence of the neighborhood into multifamily fabric through stepped façades, exterior spaces, and public amenities.

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Status: Built
Location: Los Angeles, CA, US
Firm Role: Architect
Additional Credits: Team:
Principal-in-Charge: Lorcan O'Herlihy, FAIA
Project Director: Brian Adolph
Project Lead: Geoffrey Sorrell
Project Team: Yuval Borochov, Nick Hopson

Civil & MEP: SYLee
Structural: John Labib + Associates
Landscape: Stephen Billings Landscape Architecture

Photography: Eric Staudenmaier