Frank Gehry, FAIA’s multi-use, 334,000-square-foot 8150 Sunset Blvd. development has been approved for construction in the West Hollywood neighborhood of the Canadian-born architect’s adopted home of Los Angeles. The site will be comprised of a group of five interlinked structures, and it will be overseen by Townscape Partners, a local real estate investment firm specializing in the Los Angeles area development.
The buildings range from three to 15 stories tall, and are certainly Gehry-esque in their forms and presentation, with either bounding petals or undulating waves encasing a structural base. According to the architect’s namesake firm, two of the structures will be residential, holding about 249 residential units. Each building will feature distinctive functions or amenities, such as retail, entertainment, green spaces, or communal areas.
The project will anchor the eastern end of the Sunset Strip and face the Hollywood Hills to the North. Mindful of the historical and residential buildings surrounding the site, Gehry designed the buildings to be sensitive to specific structures that are essential to West Hollywood’s identity, such as the Chateau Marmont, Granville Towers, and Sunset Tower. The western 15-story residential buidings, for instance, are scaled to be harmonious with the Chateau Marmont, the Gothic Revival landmark hotel designed by architect William Lee Douglass in 1929.
The site is also historical in its own right. Taking up the location of the former Garden of Allah (originally spelled without an “h”), an estate-turned-residential hotel in Old Hollywood bought by Russian actress Alla Nazimova in 1919 from real estate developer William H. Hay, Gehry’s design is a subtle homage to the hotel and how he remembers seeing it.
In 1926, Nazimova expanded the 2.5-acre site by buying another 25 whitewashed villas around the original building to create the hotel grounds, which boasted tropical fruit trees and a pool intentionally shaped like the Black Sea. In subsequent years, the hotel and grounds became a safe haven and second home for some Old Hollywood stars who could rent the units up to a day or months at a time such as on-screen-turned-real-life partners Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall, and literary figures such as author F. Scott Fitzergerald and American playwright George S. Kaufman. The hotel also garnered a reputation of hosting over-the-top parties.
The property was sold and torn down in 1959, an event that reportedly inspired American songstress and counterculture figure Joni Mitchell’s 1967 song “Big Yellow Taxi,” which sings “They paved paradise/And put up a parking lot,” to build a bank—a modernist building dubbed Lytton Savings designed by architect Kurt Meyer. A preservation battle is now being fought to protect the bank, since Gehry’s project calls for the demolition of the 1959 structure. The location also currently features a strip mall and a McDonald’s.
The dates for breaking ground have not yet been released.