February 21, 2024 Breaking News, Latest News, and Videos

The Plaza at Santa Monica’s Groundhog Day (Part 2)

Last week our colleague Thane Roberts, in a reprise of an article from four years ago, said: “Insanity was once defined as doing the same thing over again and expecting a different result. Once again, our City Council has embarked on a misadventure that will likely end the same way as before with the Hines Project- a major waste of funds and time for all parties concerned, especially the developers.” This week he continues the discussion about the proposed Plaza at Santa Monica, a massive project in the very heart of downtown Santa Monica.

The reasons given for the project’s excessive mass, height, lack of open space, housing and parking come back to costs- “We can’t afford it”. This despite the fact that the annual ground rent for the project is only about $ 1.3 million/year for a project that will cost in excess of $ 250 million. The exorbitant costs likely have less to do with the requested community amenities than the design of the project. One reason its design is “iconic” and “one of a kind” is that it will be an extremely complicated and expensive project to build. While The Plaza’s stacked, splayed blocks looks simple, when it comes to construction they are anything but. Normally, structural systems “stack” atop one another from floor to floor starting at the lowest parking levels and continuing to the roof. This is not the case for The Plaza.

The fact that the floors are skewed and offset will make the structure of the building complicated and hence more expensive to build. In addition, the economies of having the roof of one level be the floor to the next are lost. Instead of ‘one roof’, The Plaza will have many “roofs” and, in this case, ones that must be waterproofed and designed for landscape and foot traffic even if they are never used for that purpose. The Plaza will be a “Type 1” (steel) construction that is the most expensive building type due to the fire proofing, elevators, mechanical systems etc. that are required. At the other end of the spectrum is Type 4 (wood frame buildings) that is 1/3 the height (around 50’) but much less expensive to construct with fewer constrictions.

An aerial rendering of The Plaza at Santa Monica.

While an “iconic” building of this scale and uniqueness will certainly draw attention, is it the kind of attention the City wants? Does it complement our current beachside ambiance or degrade it? This conflict, as well the other ‘trade offs’ for such a massive building, renders it an illogical choice as our City’s centerpiece that will forever tower over our downtown. The alternative-several small, simpler structures that were in keeping with the scale of the City–or even much better, an open central plaza with trees and space for real public activities– would be much less expensive and could free up funds for housing, open space and some of the other amenities that residents desire. It is a more modest approach, one that would be more attuned to our small, beach town character. It might even save enough money to allow for a real ‘Plaza’ or park instead of one in name only. Sometimes reducing expenses is better than chasing more funds. Currently, it is a case of the tail wagging the dog.

“It will forever symbolize the City’s desire for spectacle over substance, of quantity over quality, of waste over sustainability and of putting the needs of those that would exploit our resources above those who strive to protect and preserve them. Is this the legacy that we wish for the City’s current residents and future generations? “

Thane Roberts, Architect, for SMa.r.t.

Finally, there is the issue of sustainability and environmental impact. The current Plaza design, by nature of its construction type will be a less sustainable design and require more energy to build and operate. It will prevent rainwater percolation and create a heat sink in the heart of our City that will raise temperatures. It will consume more resources and be a greater source of pollution due to its size and many systems. Finally, it will generate more traffic than a smaller project (or simply an open community plaza) that has more landscaping, trees and open space. All of the values that Santa Monica claims and espouses would be put into question if this project were to be built in its current form. It will forever symbolize the City’s desire for spectacle over substance, of quantity over quality, of waste over sustainability and of putting the needs of those that would exploit our resources above those who strive to protect and preserve them. Is this the legacy that we wish for the City’s current residents and future generations? We would hope not! Lets learn from our past mistakes and stop this madness before it is too late!

Thane Roberts, Architect, for SMa.r.t.

Santa Monica Architects for a Responsible Tomorrow: Thane Roberts, Architect, Robert H. Taylor AIA, Daniel Jansenson Architect, Building and Fire Life-Safety Commission, Ron Goldman FAIA, Samuel Tolkin Architect, Mario Fonda-Bonardi AIA, Planning Commissioner, Phil Brock, Arts Commissioner

Related Posts

“Women in Jazz” Event at the Moss Theater to Benefit College Scholarship Program

February 20, 2024

February 20, 2024

The Scholarship Trains Students to be Ambassadors for Antiracist Learning and Teaching Los Angeles-based jazz vocalist Amber Weekes, an alumna...

Countdown to the 30th Annual SAG Awards: Celebrating Excellence in Film and TV

February 20, 2024

February 20, 2024

SAG Awards Ceremony Set for Feb. 24, 2024, to be Globally Streamed on Netflix The anticipation for the 30th Annual...

“20’s/20s” Exhibit at ARCANE to Showcase Emerging Artists’ Work

February 20, 2024

February 20, 2024

The Featured Artists Were All in Their Twenties During the 2020s ARCANE Space is set to host an exhibition showcasing...

(Video) If Not Now Los Angeles Protest at Vice President Kamala Harris’ Home in Brentwood

February 20, 2024

February 20, 2024

The group held a Shiva or Jewish mourning ceremony as a protest. @smmirrornews If Not Now Los Angeles Protest at...

Atmospheric River Update for Los Angeles, Santa Monica, and Malibu for February 19

February 19, 2024

February 19, 2024

Road Closures, Mudslides, and Heaviest Rainfall of This Storm Still on the Way The City of Los Angeles intensified its...

A Sustainable “Air Taxi” Service Will Operate Out of West L.A.

February 19, 2024

February 19, 2024

Based on Images and Videos, the Aircraft’s Design Mixes a Helicopter With an Airplane By Zach Armstrong Los Angeles is...

Upcoming “Liquid Grooves” Concert Will Have Ocean and Sea Theme

February 19, 2024

February 19, 2024

Compositions Include “Pacific Grooves” by Tyler S. Grant and “Water Reflections” by Yukiko Nishimura The Emeritus Concert Band of Santa...

Los Angeles Gears Up for Another Slow-Moving Storm: Residents Urged to Prepare

February 18, 2024

February 18, 2024

National Weather Service Issues Flood Watch for Los Angeles County Even though Los Angeles County is still recovering from the...

Downtown L.A. and the Pacific Ocean can be seen from this Nearly $50M Palisadian Home

February 18, 2024

February 18, 2024

A movie theater, waterfall and infinity pool are among its amenities.  By Zach Armstrong A seven bedroom Palisadian estate with...

Two Bedroom Santa Monica Condo Lists for $9.5M

February 18, 2024

February 18, 2024

Originally established in 1928 and meticulously reconstructed in 1996, El Tovar By The Sea stands as an architectural masterpiece Originally...

S.M.a.r.t Column: Top Toady Town

February 18, 2024

February 18, 2024

Throughout history, from the ancient Romans and Assyrians to Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine, siege warfare has served as an...

(Video) Ghost Kitchen Kitchen United MIX has closed on Third Street Promenade

February 16, 2024

February 16, 2024

The Kitchen United MIX Location in Westwood is also closed. It’s a Wingstop Now. @smmirrornews Ghost Kitchen Kitchen United MIX...

Pacific Coast Highway In Western Malibu Faces Nightly Closures Due to Erosion Until Further Notice

February 15, 2024

February 15, 2024

Caltrans Implements Emergency Measures to Address Ocean Side Shoulder Damage Starting on February 14, a full closure of Pacific Coast...

Fiery Crash Shuts Down Pacific Coast Highway in Malibu Near Nicholas Canyon

February 15, 2024

February 15, 2024

Collision and Vehicle Fire Leads to Helicopter Evacuation of Injured Driver A two-car traffic accident resulted in the destruction of...

Council Votes to Advance City Hall Mural Project Focused on Equity

February 15, 2024

February 15, 2024

The Recommendations Center on Changes to the Mural Display and Surrounding Space The Santa Monica City Council voted on Tuesday...