Sat, May 28, 2011
After changing ownership and uses over the course of a century, there are now extreme structural and mechanical constraints to making any further modifications to the building. These limitations provoked a series of questions about building in an environment that can’t be altered: If walls can’t be added or removed, what if design alters the character of existing walls? What if walls appeared to be deep instead of flat? What if graphic and color got confused with three-dimensional objects? In other words, is it possible to manufacture more space without changing the size of a room?
In response to these questions, The architects largely restricted design to a graphic pattern that takes cues from op-art to make flat walls appear depth and material qualities. The scheme uses a large number of slightly tapered parallel stripes to produce variable spatial qualities depending on the angle of view. Viewed frontally the stripes look like shading on a flat surface. Viewed obliquely the stripes and the wall blur into a fog; it looks like you can touch cloudiness.
Two benches in the building lobby were designed to interface with the wall graphics so that three-dimensional form appears to peel out of the flat wall. Acrylic globe lights throughout the project are positioned to hover in front of the optically foggy material of the walls.
Mercantile Contemporary Lofts was commissioned by ICO Development, a real estate investment firm with holdings throughout Southern California. ICO has recently completed several residential projects in LA’s Historic Core, emphasizing a commitment to the revitalization of Downtown.