Frank Gehry-Designed Project Debated in Santa Monica


Image: Gehry Partners, LLP

The first public meeting was held to discuss a planned 244-foot tall tower designed by Frank Gehry, which could tower above Ocean Avenue and Santa Monica Boulevard.

Santa Monica residents were encouraged to attend the meeting to give their opinion on the project, according to LA Curbed, which will include a Gehry-designed hotel and condominium tower that will soar higher than the current four-story limit downtown. LA Curbed and Santa Monica Patch report that while some attendees “praised the ‘very slender, delicate building,’ … another feared its breeze-blocking potential and the ‘Manhattanization’ of the ocean front.” Knowing the reputation Gehry has, a few residents mentioned they felt “lucky” and even “delighted” to have a building designed by Gehry in their neighborhood, said Patch.

Gehry is known for his design of the Walt Disney Concert Hall in downtown Los Angeles, the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain and much more.

The public meeting, which took place last week and saw some 50 residents in attendance, was intended to get a feel for public response to the proposed project and property owner and developer Jeffrey Worthe said, “If the community doesn’t want this, it’s not going to happen.”

The Gehry tower would be one of the tallest buildings located in Santa Monica if it goes forward, according to Santa Monica Patch. Some fear the tower will impede their ocean views and block the breeze, but the slender design of the building may have swayed some worries. Patch reports that the tower would take up “about 12 percent of the 1.9-acre site.”

If the plans go forward, the new project will include 125 hotel rooms, 22 condominiums, ground-floor shops/restaurants, a public green space, and a three-building museum and exhibition campus. The height of the proposed tower is directly related to Worthe’s projection that there will need to be 125 hotel rooms minimum for the project to be profitable.

Santa Monica Patch reports that Gehry commented on the height of the tower and said, “I’ve been here since ’72 no one has come to be to do a lower building that architecturally significant. Believe me, it will get more sculptural and more nice as we go along.”

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