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