Frank Gehry's Five-Building Project On Sunset Strip Gets The Green Light

The Los Angeles City Planning Commission voted unanimously on Thursday to green-light a Frank Gehry-designed project that will put five new buildings on the Sunset Strip, reports Curbed LA.

The buildings, which will vary in height from three stories to 15, will combine retail spaces with 249 residential units. According to the Los Feliz Ledger, developers had originally planned for 28 of those residential units—or 11%—to be set aside as low-income housing, but the commission requested that the developers add another 4% of affordable units. In response, developers agreed to add ten more units for "workforce housing", or housing for families of four whose income is roughly between $56,000 and $67,000 annually. The commission also asked that parking spaces be reduced to encourage visitors and occupants to use public transit. In total, the buildings are expected to cover 334,000 square feet.

The project was met with some opposition at the commission hearing on Thursday. Some residents said that the buildings would crowd an area that's already congested. Sarah Dusseault, chief of staff for Councilmember David Ryu (the project will be built in his district), told the Los Feliz Ledger that the additional 4% of below-market housing was not enough. "“There are a lot of good things about this project, but you have to make sure you don’t give away the milk for free," said Dusseault. "Is this a fair exchange?”

And, in fact, the proposed buildings are three times what the city's "floor area ratio" would allow for. But, as per state law, developers were absolved from that rule because the project will offer affordable housing.

At the hearing, Gehry tried to reassure attendees that the project will take a mindful approach. "I will do my best to be responsible, beautiful and humane and to make you proud," he said. He also claimed that his buildings will bring a new vibrancy to L.A. development, which he deplored as having "no spirit or humanity." Harsh!

As shown in early renderings, the project fits the Gehry mold of design. The buildings are almost bulbous—drawn with curved lines and sloping angles. The most obvious comparison would be the Walt Disney Concert Hall downtown, which, of course, was also designed by Gehry. It's all very reminiscent of Picasso's cubism period. The renderings (at least the ones from Townscape) also depict the larger structures as being covered in a kind of translucent shell. Is it glass? Which leads us to: is there going to be a glass slide?

The project, while designed by Gehry, is being developed by real estate investment firm Townscape Partners. It will be built at 8150 Sunset Boulevard, which is directly across the street from the famed Chateau Marmont.

An earlier version of this article said that WeHoVille reported that Townscape Partners had agreed to add three units for workforce housing. A member of Townscape's communications team told us that there will actually be ten units.