Launch Slideshow

working the system

working the system

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    Tom Bonner

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    Tom Bonner

    Leafy privacy walls in front of the units provide a visual and aural buffer against automobile and foot traffic. Owners enjoy roof decks and ground-floor terraces.

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    Tom Bonner

    Adams and Smith selected steel for the industrial-style loftsÕ railings, landings, and exposed cross-bracing (top and above, left.) They inserted volumes for bedrooms and baths (above) into the projectÕs shell (middle).

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    Tom Bonner

    Adams and Smith selected steel for the industrial-style lofts’ railings, landings, and exposed cross-bracing (top and above, left.) They inserted volumes for bedrooms and baths (above) into the project’s shell (middle).

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    William Adams Architects, Venice

    Adams and Smith selected steel for the industrial-style lofts’ railings, landings, and exposed cross-bracing (top and above, left.) They inserted volumes for bedrooms and baths (above) into the project’s shell (middle).

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    William Adams Architects, Venice

    Adams and Smith selected steel for the industrial-style lofts’ railings, landings, and exposed cross-bracing (top and above, left.) They inserted volumes for bedrooms and baths (above) into the project’s shell (middle).

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    William Adams Architects, Venice

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    William Adams Architects, Venice

 

William Adams Architects has made its name designing small, innovative multifamily infill. So when charged with creating a six-unit condo building for a tight site near its Venice, Calif., office, the firm knew just what to do. “We were dealing with a pretty small area,” says project architect Carl Smith, AIA. “With the unit sizes we had to get, we didn't have much choice [but] to maximize the building envelope.”

He and principal-in-charge Bill Adams, FAIA, dreaded the thought of dropping a boring box on the lot, though, so they instead concocted a plan that divides the project into two buildings—one with four loft-style units, the other with two. A central driveway squeezes between the structures, giving each unit owner access to a private garage. “The idea was to avoid a big cube,” Smith explains.

Adams and Smith selected steel for the industrial-style lofts’ railings, landings, and exposed cross-bracing (top and above, left.) They inserted volumes for bedrooms and baths (above) into the project’s shell (middle).

Adams and Smith selected steel for the industrial-style lofts’ railings, landings, and exposed cross-bracing (top and above, left.) They inserted volumes for bedrooms and baths (above) into the project’s shell (middle).

Credit: Tom Bonner

He and Adams developed a disciplined system to organize the project's design elements. They set up the two-story condos like townhouses, with three facing forward and three facing back. The external structure acts as a steel tube that holds a set of smaller, discrete containers for bedrooms and baths. These plywood and Corten steel containers float within each unit and cantilever out over the glass-walled first floors, adding another layer of texture to the street elevations. By consolidating private spaces, the architects enabled the rest of the interiors to remain open and interconnected. Each piece follows a consistent logic: The windows in the steel tube, for example, are horizontal and placed in a staggered pattern, while the floating boxes have regular punched openings. The cumulative effect of all this rigor is an architecture that's orderly, yet interesting—about as far away from a “big cube” as one can get.

project:
Canal Lofts, Venice, Calif.

architect:
William Adams Architects, Venice

developer:
Richard Ehrman, Malibu, Calif.

general contractor:
Sanchez Brothers Construction, Culver City, Calif.

project size:
1,500 square feet to 1,800 square feet per unit

site size:
0.2 acre

construction cost:
$250 per square foot

sales price:
$900,000 to $1.3 million per unit

number of units:
6

photography:
Tom Bonner

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