Steven Christensen Architecture

Steven Christensen Architecture

Santa Monica


Broadway Loft

This loft occupies a 1998 penthouse constructed on the roof of the former J.G. McDonald Chocolate Company, a stately brick structure built in 1901. Lacking the post-industrial aura of its downstairs neighbors, this penthouse unit presented both a tabula-rasa and a challenge to lend a new identity to this tight but uniquely situated space.

Our design objective was to produce a sense of openness and contemporary luxury within a fairly limited footprint of 810 square feet. Somewhat paradoxically, our strategy for achieving this effect involved a greater degree of partitioning within the space in order to conceal all equipment and clutter, eliminate the need for storage furniture, and shift the balance of spatial allotment toward open spaces dedicated to entertainment. Although the previous layout contained some generous spaces (including two inexplicably vast bathrooms), it had no space for storage, a tiny kitchen, and no place in the living area large enough for a sofa. By eliminating eccentricities in circulation, reworking bathroom layouts, and swapping living and sleeping spaces, we were able to add two closets, a sizable shower ‘cave,’ and increase the size and openness of the remainder of the unit.

Cognizant of the fact that this urban second residence would be used largely for entertaining, our design includes a ten foot wide sliding partition that can separate the modest bedroom from the large open living areas. This bespoke element inspired the project’s signature motif: The custom fabricated sliding partition – along with every other east/west oriented wall – consists of a large continuous intaglio line drawing that is robotically milled 3/16 of an inch into its wood surface. The variation in proximity between the lines begins to yield three-dimensional perceptual effects that pay subtle homage to the work of op-artists such as Bridget Riley or Victor Vasarely. Here, with the strong two-dimensional figure/ground discordance of Riley’s work replaced by a relatively subtle counter-relief play between light and shadow, the faceted topographical surface implied by the drawing oscillates from shallow to deep depending on ambient light and the perspective of the viewer. 

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Status: Built
Location: Salt Lake City, UT, US