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
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
Copyright © 2011 by Santa Monica Mirror. All rights reserved.