OMA selected for downtown
Santa Monica project


News: architecture firm OMA has been selected to design a major mixed-use public building featuring angled blocks stacked like dominoes for downtown Santa Monica, California (+ slideshow).

The Plaza at Santa Monica by OMA

The stepped development will fill an entire city block at Fifth Street and Arizona Avenue, a site which is currently occupied by a car park and a public ice rink, which will be retained.

Concept diagram
Concept diagram

The building will contain a bit of everything, from shops and offices to apartments and a hotel. There will also be a hub for tech businesses while the open terraces atop each block will be given over to gardens, markets and venues for events.

Public terrace
Public terrace

Each of the angled horizontal blocks will have a distinct use, with the top level containing a 225-room boutique hotel and the one beneath that housing residential and live/work spaces. Below that are two office blocks, with the ground levels given over to retail.

Office terrace
Office terrace

OMA's design was recommended by city planners and their choice will be reviewed by the City Council next month, with construction starting next year if the project is approved.

Hotel terrace
Hotel terrace

Yesterday, OMA were declared winners of a competition to renovate Miami Beach Convention Center in Florida. See all our stories about OMA »

Here's more info from OMA:

City Staff select OMA New York, led by Shohei Shigematsu, for major design competition in Santa Monica

Santa Monica's City Staff has announced their recommendation of OMA's competition proposal for a mixed use development that encompasses civic plaza, cultural venue, retail, residences, offices and a boutique hotel in the heart of downtown Santa Monica.

The selection panel praise OMA's approach, commenting: "The proposed design delivers iconic architecture from all elevations, as well as a highly flexible interior space design that could most easily accommodate potential design modifications and adjust to market demand changes in the future. Additionally, the site design maximizes the public view corridor toward the open plaza areas and integrates within the framework of downtown and adjacent properties."

Shigematsu commented: "Our ambition was to contribute to Santa Monica's diverse network of public spaces, from the recreational plazas at the Pier and Palisades Park to contained commercial centers like Third Street Promenade and Santa Monica Place. Our design provides residents, tourists, and entrepreneurs a dynamic new public realm – a stepped building that achieves a strong interaction between interior program and exterior environments."

The building integrates a ground level plaza and elevated terraces that provide an additional 56,500 sf of programmable open space compared to the original site. These public spaces are capable of hosting a wide range of outdoor programming, including a market galleria and the existing public ice rink. A cultural venue is embedded at the heart of the building, with street level access and a dedicated park.

The site will be anchored by office spaces designed to create a hub for the growing tech industry within the greater Los Angeles area. The office complex will be supported by a boutique hotel offering 225 rooms with unobstructed views of the city, beach and mountains. The project will also provide pedestrian improvements such as wide sidewalks, bike lanes, landscaping, street furniture and additional public parking.

The recommendation will be reviewed by Santa Monica's City Council on August 27th before the project formally proceeds in 2014.

  • David

    Wow, this is a huge month for OMA-NY.

  • zizi

    Stacking boxes randomly is the new frontier!

    • bill

      No – it was the new frontier back in 2007.

  • nofelix

    I like the massing, but the design of the blocks doesn’t seem to be related to ‘stacking boxes’. The strong horizontal lines break each box up too much imho, and there’s not enough variation in facade treatment between the boxes.

    Why couldn’t they be different colours like in the diagram?

  • Nowadays it’s just like in the computer business; a couple of big players like Microsoft, Google and Apple. In architecture they are called: Hadid, OMA and Foster. (BIG). No fun any more.

  • obiwaf

    It looks like OMA is doing the same kind of project style as BIG.

    • Getoverit

      You must be kidding right?

  • Allan

    Stacking boxes is not new for OMA (and others). I really like it here, it forms a cascade motif which is pleasant.

  • justsayin

    I miss the old Koolhaas.

    • It’s true, I don’t see why he isn’t engaging in new forms of architectural discourse – through the Internet. His real skills lay in his ability to analyze situations, actors, truthfully and spit that back out in an intriguing thought provoking way that sparks debate and discussion – offering a new perspective. He is a journalist – a writer!

      While he is still producing seminal written architectural works, I think he is losing touch with the spirt of the times by not engaging in new platforms such as Twitter, Instagram, Dezeen – whatever. I imagine he would do it in a funny and thought provoking way, not being so serious about it but making us think about new forms of spreading ideas and debate. The medium is the message!

      For the record I really believe in the methodology and work of OMA, just wondering if Rem could do even better.

  • marc

    100% agreed!

  • David Samuel

    This is absolutely fantastic architecture and design. Absolutely brilliant. Rem Koolhaas is a GENIUS. I love it. LOVE it. Koolhaas is my absolute hero.

    • eeon

      Just to check, sarcasm?

  • Ryan

    This will be a great addition to LA. That said, why do all recent OMA projects actually look derivative of OMA-baby Bjarke Ingels Group? Where is the old intellectual provocateur Koolhaas that we all love so much?

  • nonarchitect

    Bjarke Ingels worked for OMA. I would credit OMA for helping generate the new wave of young ambitious architects. The other firms active at the time were too busy smoking pot (or whatever) and wallowing in capitalist pity.

    Do you know of anyone who worked for Hadid who became successful on their own afterwards? I mean those who actually worked there full time, not just interns.

  • aug

    Seeing that OMA has done the same design elsewhere before (i.e. Singapore), I wonder if they consider this idea of stacking boxes to be a type that deserves to be repeated elsewhere.

    Not that there is anything wrong for it to be a type, but I question if this view-directing the boxes do genuinely create a better site response.