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Habitat 825 by Lorcan O'Herlihy Architects

West Hollywood, California: An apartment building draws inspiration from its neighbor - Schindler's Kings Road House.

by ArchNewsNow
February 9, 2004

Editor’s note: Different factions have been up-in-arms about Habitat 825 (originally called Kings Road Gardens), a multi-unit residential project designed by Lorcan O’Herlihy Architects planned for North Kings Road in West Hollywood. Some feel that the existing 1936 Hollywood Regency house (and several others around it) should be preserved and reused. Others are afraid it will infringe on R.M. Schindler’s 1922 residence, Kings Road House. Then there are those who find O’Herlihy’s contemporary design quite respectful of its noted neighbor.


Chances are that in another 82 years, there would be howls of protest should new plans for the neighborhood include demolishing and replacing Habitat 825 – which by that time, might itself be considered a treasured example of 21st century Modernism.


Rather than take sides, we present a few salient facts, a brief statement by O’Herlihy, and updated images. You (and the future) can judge. – Kristen Richards


The facts:


Site Characteristics:  Flat site directly to the south of the Kings Road House by R.M. Schindler


Zoning Constraints: 23 allowable units with an allowable height of 45 feet.


Program: 19 units and three typical layouts: 1-2-story units with 2-3 bedrooms. All units have private open space and direct access to a courtyard; some units have access to roof decks. The project provides two parking spaces per unit plus five guest spaces for a total of 43 spaces.


Construction System: The project will be built in Type V construction, mainly consisting of wood frame construction with light steel as required.


Funding: Private


Schedule: Construction is scheduled to begin in Spring 2004.


Architect’s statement:


This project represents an opportunity to reinterpret both site and housing strategies. Our goal is to draw inspiration from Schindler in developing new forms of contemporary lifestyle.


Central to this idea is to forge a strong link between City and Building. Los Angeles is, by its very nature, a collage of culture and form. We are continuing the tradition of assembling fragmentary pieces into frameworks that, through their design, transform the elements of making the city. Habitat 825 frames a central void by wrapping two autonomous yet complementary forms – wood volume and cement board volume – thus connecting the building to the city.


This project has also given us an opportunity to address the critical issues of density, site, and the cultural and social impacts that arise from building adjacent to a historic landmark. Key to the design strategy is allowing light to enter at every available opportunity, which is a direct homage to Schindler’s mastery of the ineffable quality of Los Angeles sunshine. By creating a low profile on the North side (the two story structure adjacent to the Schindler house), the project avoids casting shadows on to the adjacent property. An equally important element is the creation of light wells, which originate in roof gardens and filter light down into the dwelling units. The courtyard scheme also allows all the units to have direct access to the exterior, avoiding long circulation corridors between units.


The successful resolution of these forces, along with our interest in material systems, will be used as a basis to develop further strategies for providing innovative housing solutions in a metropolis struggling to keep up with demand.


Lorcan O’Herlihy


Habitat 825 Design Team: Lorcan O’Herlihy (Principal-in-Charge), David Thompson (Project Manager), Franka Diehnelt, Hillary Leonard, Kevin Tsai, Banu Ataman


Lorcan O’Herlihy Architects, Culver City, California, was founded in 1989. Currently on the boards are a number of commercial and residential projects in the U.S., Europe, Japan, and China.


Previously, O’Herlihy worked at I.M. Pei and Partners on the Louvre Museum in Paris and as an associate at Steven Holl Architects, where he was responsible for several projects including the award winning Hybrid building in Seaside, Florida, which received a National Honor Award from the American Institute of Architects.


O’Herlihy has taught extensively over the last decade including the Architectural Association as a Unit Master, the Southern California Institute of Architecture (SCI-Arc) as a graduate studio instructor, and was a guest lecturer at Cranbrook Academy of Art, Michigan, in 2003.


He will be speaking at the Architectural League of New York on March 4th as part of the Emerging Voices Lecture Series.


Also featured on ArchNewsNow:


Hillside Haven: Lexton/MacCarthy Residence by Lorcan O’Herlihy Architects: Grounded in the tradition of mid-20th Century modernism (and grounded by stringent building codes) a new house seems to "float" effortlessly above the canyons of Los Angeles.

(click on pictures to enlarge)

(Lorcan O'Herlihy Architects (LOh/a))
Habitat 825: View into the courtyard

Roof decks

Model axon

View from rear

West elevation

Partial south elevation

North elevation (adjacent to Schindler house)

Courtyard from north side

North courtyard elevation

Site plan indicating location of Schindler's Kings Road House

Building diagram

Unit 6 diagram

Exterior cladding

Window detail

Typical siding detail

© 2003