Q&A With 8500 Sunset Architect Paul Danna Of SOM
All The Buzz From 8500 Sunset
The Residences at 8500 Sunset, debuting Spring 2016, are poised to transform the Sunset Strip and offer an architecturally intelligent design that began with a vision for the towers and culminated in artful amenity and residential offerings inspired by the unique lifestyle of West Hollywood. Here, Paul Danna, Director at SOM, who in partnership with Lorcan O’Herlihy of LOHA, led the design of the residential towers, shares his insight on the innovative design of The Residences at 8500 Sunset.
Tell us about the architectural vision for The Residences at 8500 Sunset?
I think the vision was driven in large part by a desire to create a place that would capture the spirit of the Sunset Strip and allow residents to participate in the lifestyle as well as to observe it. The Strip is one of the most famous boulevards in the world — the image, character and vibe of the place. We wanted to capitalize on the history and culture as well as to provide a retreat from daily life and work, where people could be at home and comfortable, enjoying the other aspects that living in Southern California provides, including its climate, environment and natural amenities. One of the goals was to create something that is edgy yet sophisticated, confident yet not too loud, cool but comfortable.
How will the towers integrate and elevate the lifestyle of the Strip?
The project is going to do wonderful things for this portion of the Sunset Strip and the neighborhood around it. These two blocks have been the missing teeth in the grin of the Sunset Strip and are truly a gateway to the city below. 8500 Sunset will enhance the pedestrian movement from east to west, bring more pedestrian life, residents and connectivity to the neighborhood.
What are some of the standout features of the residential towers?
I think one of the strong features is the checkerboard facade with floor-to-ceiling glass, which gives the buildings a strong and identifiable character. More importantly, the walls of glass capture spectacular views of the city below, the life and action of the Sunset Strip and the Hollywood Hills. All are unique; all are very much about the spirit of Los Angeles. We were able to capture these views from the residences, the pool deck and the open-air plaza space that links the projects together. Also, the pool deck, with its south-facing orientation, is always sun-filled and captures magnificent views of the city while remaining separate and private from the Strip.
Explain how the walkability factor and outdoor spaces are central to the design.
The open-air plaza creates a slight buffer between the energy of the Strip and the privacy of the residences. Landscaped with trees, seating areas and water features, the open space creates a great visual and walkable access that stretches from the pool deck to the private entries and to the action of the Strip. You can head out for the night or for breakfast and come home to this experience — of walking through the plaza where the towers frame this postcard view. It’s truly the essence of Los Angeles.
What was the lifestyle you envisioned when designing this project?
We envisioned a lifestyle that was active, healthy, energetic and highly social. The communal spaces at the ground level — the pool deck, fitness center, kitchen, lounging, meeting and entertaining facilities — were designed to support a sense of community, within the larger community of West Hollywood.
What was the architectural vision behind the residences themselves?
We wanted to create homes that would be very much of their time today, as well as suited to transition to the future; homes that would hold their value because they were timeless as well as of their time. The goal was to keep the design visually clean, open and spatial so that the focus could be the incredible views. The project is in sync with current trends and interests in the market. We used natural materials, such as exposed concrete ceilings and oak floors, as well as a neutral color palate that, along with the flexible layout, would be a highly adaptable backdrop for a resident’s own sense of style, character and personality.
What are some of the standout features of the residences?
Each residence has, at least, one large 8’ by 8’ window that frames the view and captures abundant natural light. The invaluable end, which you can’t find anywhere else on this planet, are those views. That’s what makes this project so unique. On one side it’s sweeping views of the city, and on the other it’s the visual richness of the Strip and the Hollywood Hills. All share these spectacular views; none of which is second-class.