City Council Needs To Stop Approving Alike Looking Projects: Letter To The Editor

Tuesday, 15 Oct 2013, 9:14:00 AM

Letter To The Editor

To maintain height and density while maintaining light, floating levels could be created with upper floor terraces on both street fronts, says Architects and Engineers for Responsible Planning.
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To maintain height and density while maintaining light, floating levels could be created with upper floor terraces on both street fronts, says Architects and Engineers for Responsible Planning.

Editor's Note: This is an open letter by "Architects &

Engineers for Responsible Planning." Their names are published at the

end of the letter.

The two proposed hotels at the corners of 5th and Colorado form the

gateway from Expo to downtown. What statement will they make?

“Welcome,” “I’m on vacation,” “come in and have fun,” “enjoy Santa

Monica with its fresh air and sunlight,” or even just to stop and

admire.

Instead they look like all the other recent, boring, unappealing

apartment buildings, or worse yet like gulags – failing to offer any

meaningful public space or inspired design.

The maximum density of the site envelope allows 42 percent open space

(22,500 square feet site x 3.5 FAR = 78,750 square fee of floor area) (6 stories x 22500 square fee

=135,00 square feet of total area).

The proposed six story hotel, or “jewel box” as the architect describes

it, puts the bulk of this open space at the interior of the building.

One of many alternatives designed to the same height & density

while maintaining light, openess to the sky, and a human scale.

Two wings are connected by a 1st floor lobby with floating decks

above, wider sidewalks, and upper floor terraces on both street fronts.

City Council, Planning Commission, ARB, City Manager, and Planning

Staff – stop approving projects that all look alike, are all built close

to the property lines and to the maximum height.

You’re destroying the character of Santa Monica.

Our city deserves much better and it’s your responsibility to demand it.

Footnote: Regarding the above analysis, there are two points we would like to clarify and propose.

1) Both the applicant’s design and the alternative design represent

94,000sq ft or 4.2 FAR. These areas exceed the designated 78,750 square feet

or 3.5 FAR by 19.4 percent and, as a result, reduce available open space from

42 percent to 30 percent. This excess area is allowed under the existing code which exempts perimeter wall thickness;

elevator, stair and duct shafts; covered open space (pool area in  this

case); covered driveways and loading areas; etc.

2) It is our groups strong recommendation that the new code does not

allow these exemptions. This would be a simple way to reduce building

mass and/or height without needing to revise existing FAR designations.

Thanks for listening – and hopefully acting!

Ron Goldman FAIA, architect

Bob Taylor AIA, architect

Dan Jansenson, architect

Thane Roberts AIA, architect

Mario Fonda-Bonardi AIA, architect

Armen Melkonians, civil & environmental engineer

Phil Brock, Chairman, Santa Monica Parks & Recreation

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