Location Los Angeles
Size 250,000 ft²
Program Mixed-use, luxury residential apartments
Awards Los Angeles Business Journal 2013 Commercial Real Estate Gold Award; Gold Nugget Residential Project of the Year; Golden Nugget Grand Award for Mixed Used, Multi-Family Housing, and Urban Infill Site Plan
Developer Caruso Affiliated
Architect MVE & Partners
Building Façade Hetzel Design
Interior Designers BAMO, Waldo Fernandez
Landscape Architect Lifescapes International
Construction Services Bernards
Building an icon isn’t easy. The biggest challenge to building 8500 Burton Way, a new luxury residential development in Los Angeles by Caruso Affiliated, came with a last-minute decision to switch to a new exterior design. “The bar is very high, and it’s always a little nerve-racking when you’re in the risky business of designing something that you want to be iconic,” says Dave Williams, the executive vice president of architecture at Caruso, with a laugh.
Williams hired MVE & Partners, a highly regarded, nearly 40-year-old firm with thousands of buildings in Southern California to its name, “to tweak our original idea and make the building layout efficient structurally and mechanically,” he says. With the efficiency of the building perfected—Caruso builds to LEED Silver standards but doesn’t get the buildings certified—Caruso decided to switch gears on 8500’s façade, seeking something that “would feel very fresh, very current, but timeless.”
The design only makes sense in Hollywood terms. Williams says it’s like Entourage—an HBO show featuring the grinning, tousle-haired Adrian Grenier as an up-and-coming film star, hanging in Hollywood with his buddies—meets Mad Men—the television drama about suave, sharply dressed, Manhattan-drinking advertising execs in 1960s New York.
Caruso brought Hetzel Design onto the project to achieve this effect. Branislav Hetzel, the firm’s principal, is known for iconic projects all around the world, including the “The Ring of Life,” the steel circular landmark in Shenfu, China, that somewhat resembles a 515-foot-tall Dyson bladeless fan.
Caruso’s requested blend of fresh and timeless resulted in a smooth, unbroken skin of bright cast-in-place concrete and aquamarine glass. The triangular, eight-story building is shaped exactly like the corner pocket on a billiards table—its rounded corners a throwback to mid-20th-century mod design, and the unexpected shape and wall-to-wall, floor-to-ceiling windows an homage to the architectural styles of today. Inside 8500, custom design reigns. With the cost of rent being what Williams calls a “tertiary” matter for Caruso’s target market on this luxury project, hitting the perfect iconic look—inside and out—would better attract the LA entertainment and design industry elite.
Certification Not applicable
Site Water filtration system in sidewalk planters, EV-charging stations, cool roof, bike-sharing program
Materials Ipe wood deck, double-pane glass windows and doors, recycling on-site, Green Sweep supplies
Water Smart irrigation system with automated controls, low-flow faucets and toilet fixtures
Energy 50kW photovoltaic array, solar-heated pool, energy-efficient residential appliances
Landscape Canopy trees reduce heating and cooling costs for lower-level spaces, garden-level green roof
“The location and iconic design are standout elements,” says John Sykes, project executive with Bernards, which provided preconstruction and construction services. “The roof amenities rival some of the finest hotels in the area.” Rent one of the building’s 87 apartments (they start at $4,500 per month) and you have access to the following amenities: indoor fitness center, rooftop pool, dog-walking services, housekeeping and laundry service, concierge, valet, car service, personal shopping, furniture rentals, and room service. The eighth-floor swimming pool and spa offers an unhampered view of Beverly Hills. You can lounge there, “order a pitcher of margaritas and lunch and have it delivered,” Williams says—just like a resort vacation. Rent tops out at $40,000, for what Variety called the project’s pièce de résistance: the penthouse, 4,000-square-feet designed and decorated by Waldo Fernandez, whose client list includes Elizabeth Taylor, Brad Pitt, and Tobey Maguire.
Like a luxury hotel, the emphasis is on a five-star sort of convenience. Apartments are part-time homes to plenty of jetsetters who are more than happy to pay higher rents to eliminate the hassle of parking, figuring out where to eat, joining a gym, washing the sheets, and so on. “It’s kind of remarkable that more developers haven’t tapped into this,” Williams says, noting that Caruso incorporates high-end amenities and services into all of its mixed-use projects, so “it’s second nature to us.”
What’s most interesting is that 8500 is as bold in its contributions to a healthier LA as it is in its emphasis on luxury. The greenest element of the building is both the most difficult to achieve and the least quantifiable: the creation of a truly walkable area. The long side of 8500’s triangle faces Burton Way, just where it’s swallowed by San Vicente Boulevard and runs into La Cienega. This is the gateway between Beverly Hills and Los Angeles though 8500 technically stands in the latter, which is a boon for the developer considering 90210’s strict height restrictions. The base of the building actually draws foot traffic with a Trader Joe’s grocery store and a high-end café called The Larder. Nearby, La Cienega—once a pricey restaurant row that Williams says is poised for a renaissance—is a popular street for shopping and eating, as are Third Street, Melrose Boulevard, and Robertson Boulevard, all in easy walking distance.
Creating a walkable area aligns perfectly with Caruso’s business plan. This isn’t the first project by Caruso, one of the largest privately held real estate companies in the nation, to emphasize shopping, eating, and finding entertainment nearby. The Grove, a shopping mall and movie theater just down the road from 8500, and the Americana in Glendale, which combines more than 300 residences with shopping and entertainment nearby, are both examples of mixed-use trying to lessen the load on LA’s roads.
“Nobody walks in LA, but they walk around this building, which is very satisfying and remarkable to us,” Williams says. “We hoped it would happen but didn’t know if we could change people’s habits and attitudes in this neighborhood—but we think we have.”