Will the Olympic Tower skyscraper be Downtown LA’s subsequent icon?
The plans for a thin skyscraper with a clever diamond-faced exoskeleton have received rave reviews from city planners who predict it could be beautiful enough to secure a spot as one of LA’s most iconic buildings.
“We need excellent downtown architecture, this project delivers,” said Samantha Millman, chairwoman of the Los Angeles City Planning Commission.
If it was ever built, this is it.
There is always the possibility that the plans will die or the development plans will change. To ensure this design is preserved, the commissioners recommended the city council last week to review changes to the appearance of them.
The architect Noberto Nardi and his company Nardi Associates have been working on plans for the steel skyscraper Olympic Tower for more than six years.
“I created a high-rise that is not a boring high-rise,” said Nardi.
In the middle of the Olympic Tower there would be a unique “carve-out” element.
The 57-story skyscraper would sprout near the Staples Center and right next to the Figueroa Hotel, wiping out a car wash on a “super narrow” lot of just 30,000 square feet. It would bring 373 hotel rooms, 374 marketable condos, offices, and stores to South Park.
Developer Simon Neman informed the commission that his company OlymFig26 did not want a high-rise building with “cookie cutters”. What he got is anything but generic.
Nardi plans to use a steel exoskeleton to hold the entire building up so no internal pillars are required. With no pillars, he envisions scooping out the center floor slabs and adding vertical gardens and a 28-story atrium in the center of the tower to “establish [a] Connection with the rest of the city. ”
He also says: “The building upstairs is fun, and I think architecture should bring luck.”
The commissioners were particularly impressed by how the eight-story parking platform would be “clad”, wrapped in glass, corrugated iron and offices, and how the tower would meet the street. The tips of four massive diamond-shaped anchors that pierce the sidewalk and create passages for people on foot to weave.
Commissioner Helen Leung called the design “really thoughtful” and Commissioner Mark Mitchell called it “aesthetically beautiful”.
“I’m very familiar with this sad little corner of downtown. This is a fantastic improvement, ”said Commissioner Karen Mack. “I really appreciate the design and the thought and focus on incorporating our design guidelines to create a landmark for this part of downtown.”
Roy Reel, who works in business development for Harley Ellis Devereaux, architecture and engineering for the downtown Circa and Metropolis megadevelopments, told the commission that the Olympic Tower “is one of the most beautiful [high-rises] we’ve seen.”
“We think … it will be as iconic for Los Angeles as William Pereira’s Transamerica Center is for San Francisco,” he said.