Warren Techentin Architecture (WTARCH)

Warren Techentin Architecture (WTARCH)

Los Angeles, CA


Elysian Fields Apartments

In a city known for single family homes nested in endless urban sprawl, multifamily living in Los Angeles is increasingly becoming the norm.  One challenge facing apartment living is how to replicate the spatial goals associated with single family living: a large open spaces, pets, trees, and the ability to creatively modify your living space.  The Elysian Fields Apartments – located in Echo Park neighborhood - endeavors to offer all of these things and to deliver something different to a neighborhood which has seen little investment in the last fifty years.  This part of Los Angeles is alive with color, texture, murals, and the kind of plant overgrowth which occurs when many generations of people and cultures have lived in an area. Seeking to accommodate this diversity, the design aggregates a variety of 27 live/work type units – from a 580 square foot micro-unit to a 1,375 square foot three bedroom loft – intended to attract a wide demographic of possible tenants. 

In an effort to better respond to the surrounding environments, we speculated on the idea of having each of the elevations of the building speak differently to its neighbor. Each of the facades (north, east, west, and south), while aggressively new, are vaguely inspired by the residual palimpsest of buildings in the neighborhood. The amalgamation of bold colors, bold form, as well as contemporary and traditional building materials, together form a language tied specifically to this area of Los Angeles. The building becomes less of an object in the city and more of a new kind of background building informing the spaces surrounding it.

The primary, west façade of the building located right on Sunset Boulevard (fabricated by Arktura) and is a large, gently curved perforated aluminum plate skin which seeks to form a coherent urban edge to a street which has lost definition over the years. This skin is an obvious sign of the building’s sustainability – it serves as a second skin through solar shading, and is punctuated by large eyelids which reveal units behind. But these apertures also articulate select views of Los Angeles beyond as well as shimmer in the busy-ness of Sunset Blvd at its feet. The north façade, painted black and revealing itself from the hillside site, is articulated with pink cruciform shapes and a seemingly scattered array of windows that mirror the uniquely stacked units and double high spaces within.  The south façade is painted yellow and shaded with a cedar screen wall, referencing nearby store-fronts, while the east façade, painted white, catches the morning glow of the California sun.

Inside the building, the units are equally as varied as its exterior suggests.  No unit is repeated twice and each boasts extra-large windows, double height spaces, and ample exterior spaces such as balconies and private patios.  The central courtyard, organized around a large planter of miniature fruit trees, becomes the social condenser for the building and hides within it the rainwater filtration system.  Smaller ‘supportive’ vegetation including herbs, vegetables, and flower gardens will be planted throughout the building perimeter.

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Status: Built
Location: Los Angeles, CA, US
Firm Role: Project Designers