4th + Linden

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Location: Long Beach, California. City on Pacific coast

Covering an area of approximately 3.5 acres, the project consists of multiple architectural and urban design strategies that seek to revitalize a city block in downtown Long Beach. It includes the rehabilitation of four existing commercial buildings for retail and creative office uses totaling 31,000 square feet, as well as a new 15,000 square foot infill mixed-use development on an existing surface parking lot. Further improvements within the project site are new landscaping and screening on an existing parking lot, and streetscape improvements that include street trees, curb extensions, parkway landscaping, pedestrian lighting, street furniture and pedestrian enhancements.

The purpose of the project is to revitalize an unattractive and inactive set of buildings, parking lots and streetscape in an economically challenged portion of downtown Long Beach, and to regenerate the site as a hub of culture and art within the East Village Arts District.

The primary project goal is to attract unique businesses, retailers and customers to downtown. It also aims to improve public safety and property values in the neighborhood, and to be an economically-efficient model redevelopment for the City, demonstrating the benefits of adaptive re-use, sustainable building and community driven development.

Downtown Long Beach is a mature urban core with a traditional street grid built around the streetcar, and contains a variety of architectural styles. Still, despite recent large-scale redevelopment efforts, much of the area has suffered economically since its pre-war heyday. The project site contains four underutilized and neglected buildings built from the 1920's through the 1970's.  Phase 1 of the project contains a group of buildings that once housed a furniture store, and later a landmark record label and recording studio, but the building was most recently boarded up and used for storage. The public realm was also neglected, and the area was a magnet for vandalism.

The project was initiated by a group of architects, who had been successful in demonstrating to the city the importance of traffic calming in the district, leading to the implementation of bulbouts, landscape and pedestrian lighting along a street near the project. To build upon these improvements, the group identified the project site as an opportunity for further revitalization. They teamed with local investors to purchase the property and begin design and renovation.

Because the existing buildings in Phase 1 were not in a configuration that would allow demising for small retail and office tenants, who were critical to creation of the envisioned creative hub, a key strategy was to modify the buildings with a series of courts and passages that allowed demising flexibility. These incisions also provided much-needed quality open space and activity along the street, which rebranded the project to the community. The tight urban sites also prompted the use of sustainable strategies for designing comfortable interior spaces and distributing parking with minimal impact on the neighborhood. Finally, the challenging economic conditions led to the reuse of existing buildings rather than clear cutting the site for new construction, which allowed the team to complete the first two phases of the project using their own capital and a modest city grant. This strategy also permitted the sale and rent of spaces at prices lower than new construction, which allowed small, creative firms to purchase or rent space.

Phase 1, the rehabilitation of three buildings and their reconfiguration into creative offices and street-front retail is complete, and the spaces are occupied by local and relocated businesses, including an independent art store, a hi-tech company new to the city, an architectural firm and a historic rehabilitation contractor. Phase 2, the rehabilitation of a 1920's s commercial building, is almost complete, and has attracted a locally successful coffee house and music store relocating from another part of town. Phase 3, comprised of streetscape/landscape improvements and a new 20 unit mixed-use building is slated to start construction in 2012.

CHARTER PRINCIPLES

The project addresses all Charter Principles in The Block, Street, and Building category, with an emphasis on the following Principles.

19. Definition of streets and public spaces as places of shared use.

Phase 1 of the project transforms building mass into a street-facing courtyard by removing a portion of the existing building. Phase 2 uses the sidewalk as café seating, further activating the public realm.

20. Architectural projects should be seamlessly linked to their surroundings.

The project conforms to the neighborhood's s scale and massing of one- and two-story buildings. The project also has a restrained modern design that respects historic details, and the buildings' color, details, and simple massing are sympathetic to the eclectic styles found in the neighborhood. The building styles vary to respect the 50- to 100-foot-wide frontages.

 

21. Streets and buildings should reinforce safety, with accessibility and openness.

The buildings were modified to replace closed storefronts with large street-facing windows, enabling "eyes on the street" and a welcoming public face. Warehousing has been substituted with more active uses, such as retail, office and eventually residential.

22. Development to accommodate automobiles, respecting pedestrians and public space.

The parking entry is located behind the building, away from the primary pedestrian street edge. A portion of one building is dedicated to covered parking, reducing the heat island effect of an open surface parking lot. A landscaped paseo provides pedestrians clear access between the street, parking areas and the units within the complex.

23. Streets and squares should be safe, comfortable, encouraging pedestrians and neighborliness.

The new streetscape includes landscaping and a consistent pattern of trees, softening the sidewalk edge and linking to adjacent neighborhoods. Proposed bulb-outs and new pedestrian-scaled lighting also contribute to the safety and comfort of pedestrians along the street. The courtyard offers a place for meetings or socializing for tenants and visitors, with abundant seating, warm southern exposure and attractive landscaping.

27. Preservation and renewal of historic buildings, districts, and landscapes.

In addition to retaining and exposing the original structural building fabric, including wood trusses, clay bricks, and concrete floors, the project uncovered and preserved a notable piece of the original building: the oldest surviving art deco frieze in Long Beach.

 

CANONS OF SUSTAINABLE URBANISM

With its environmentally sensitive architecture and urban design, the project addresses the following Canons in the Building and Infrastructure category.

1. New buildings and adaptive reuse for permanent, beloved structures.

The project includes adaptive reuse of four buildings, which are built with permanent materials that have been rehabilitated to last another 25-100 years.

5. Buildings should conserve and produce renewable energy, enabling efficiency.

Strategies used in the project to conserve energy include reflective white roofs, solar shading, operable windows and shade trees reducing the heat island effect and thus decrease cooling loads. The project also uses highly efficient HVAC systems, roofs and appliances. Phase 1 complies with the City's Green Building Policy on a voluntary basis.

6. Buildings configuration/size should help reduce energy, promote walkability, and be low-tech.

The project is located within close proximity to multiple forms of transit including on-site bus stops and adjacent light rail access and bike station, and is within downtown

Lessons learned: 1. Adaptive Reuse as a Community-Friendly Strategy In an artful reuse of existing buildings, the project accomplishes affordability while serving local and attracting new businesses to the city. Although the team knew that national firms might consider the project, it pursued tenants who were invested or interested in the local arts community. 2. Welcoming a Creative Class Creative spaces attract tenants that reinvigorate aging urban neighborhoods. The project

Transect Zone(s): T5 center.
Status: 51-75% Built
Project or Plan's Scale: Block
Features: Mixed uses.
Land area (in acres): 4
Total built area (in sq. ft.):
Total project cost (in local currency): 3.35e+06
Retail area (in sq. ft.): 33500
Office area (in sq. ft.):
Industrial area (in sq. ft.):
Number of hotel units:
Number of residential units (include live/work): 20
Parks & green space (in acres):
Project team designers: Studio One Eleven at Perkowitz+Ruth Architects
Project team developers: N/A

Previous site status:

Starting/Ending date of construction/implementation: - 2013