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Landmark Carousel Building’s Onion Dome to be Restored:

Santa Monica Pier’s Carousel Building, also known as the Looff Hippodrome Building, will have its original onion-dome roof restored. thanks to an April 12 approval of a Certificate of Appropriateness for design approval by the Landmarks Commission.

The original Hippodrome, built in 1916, featured a “Byzantine-Moorish” style of architecture that was popular at the time for resort and beachside buildings. The Carousel building was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1987, after being designated a City Landmark in 1976. However, the onion dome had long been removed. A 1999 repair of the Carousel building roof was to have incorporated reconstruction of the dome, but this was not done due to budget constraints.

The new dome, planned by the City of Santa Monica and designed to replicate the original, consists of eight powder-coated aluminum struts bolted to the existing roof of the cupola. These are tied together by an aluminum-cladded collar, which in turn holds another set of aluminum struts symmetrically arranged and joined by an aluminum plate at the top. An 11-inch aluminum finial tops the 14 foot, eight inch structure.

City Staff noted that there is insufficient documentation of the original dome and roof’s colors and finishes. The Secretary of the Interior’s Standards requires that a reconstruction have “accurate duplication of historic features based on documented or physical evidence.” Therefore, the Guidelines for Rehabilitation will be applied on the basis of “adequate historical, pictorial, and physical documentation.”

The Landmarks Commission was satisfied with the report of the design plan.

Preliminary Design for Hotel Unveiled

The Commission also discussed an adaptive reuse for a 1928 office building at 710 Wilshire Boulevard. The project proposes to convert to full-service hotel with 285 guestrooms, conference rooms, restaurants, and retail shops. A smaller mixed-use building will wrap around the main building and will feature 24 units of rental housing.

Other Commission members commented on the need to have a connection in design between the new and old buildings without duplicating any character-defining features, and about the massing, which seemed too high. The number of floors has been reduced from eight to six with a partial seventh floor from the initial design.

Laks will present his design scheme at the May 11 City Council meeting in order to obtain a development agreement with the City. According to attorney Ken Kutcher of Harding Larmore who represents the applicant, existing zoning laws will not provide for the construction of this project, which is why the development agreement is being sought.
LYNNE BRONSTEIN

Mirror Contributing Writerlynne@smmirror.com

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