Part arts initiative and part residential development, 325 Westlake merges old and new structures to create a building that preserves the character of the existing building and the site, while ensuring its continued usefulness. Rents from the residential development fund MadArt, an arts initiative focused on connecting emerging artists with the community in unexpected ways. MadArt, which runs the studio space occupying the storefront, makes it possible to engage with art and artists every day, making artists and residents richer through their programmatic partnership.
The design pairs a 1927, one-story, masonry-and-wood building with a five-story, steel-and-glass addition. The new structure occupies a narrow, 3,240-square-foot slice of the site created by demolishing the back half of the old structure, which had been structurally compromised over the years. The historic structure, originally a car dealership, is stripped back to its bones, yielding an art-making space that is open to the neighborhood and encourages engagement between artists and pedestrians. Full-height, sliding wood windows along Westlake Avenue reveal the art-making process and invite people in, while the addition of awnings overhead provides protection from the elements and encourages passers-by to linger. Building upgrades—including seismic steel moment frames, a new roof, and enhanced mechanical and electrical systems—round out the improvements to the older building. A mezzanine, inserted between two of the large Howe trusses in the old building, is daylit by a large, 13x15-foot skylight, which opens up views from the street to the apartments above and provides office space for MadArt.
The 19,910-square-foot addition houses twelve residential units—ten lofts, a one bedroom flat, and a penthouse apartment. Outdoor living at each unit including a wrap-around balcony for the penthouse, and a shared roof deck, provide unique exterior views and neighborhood connections. No-nonsense in its aesthetic, the addition shares the utilitarian spirit of the older structure. Finishes include polished concrete floors, aluminum windows, steel structure, and salvaged and repurposed wood windows used to enclose the mezzanine and wood roof sheathing used for common area wall surfaces. By preserving the historic, pedestrian-oriented character of the neighborhood, the building provides neighborhood continuity and activation, and a new way to think about living with art.