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'Roof Breaking'--A Novel Answer to Land Shortage

May 12, 1985

A roof breaking? Now, there's a novelty. But where else than in downtown Los Angeles, high-rise haven, where there is hardly a patch of dirt for a ground breaking anymore?

The so-called "roof breaking" will take place Tuesday at 10 a.m. with a balloon spectacular, expected to be attended by Mayor Tom Bradley and other dignitaries, atop the eight-story Atlantic Richfield Plaza Parking Garage at 4th and Hope streets.

And the roof breaking will be for the 3 1/2-story Stuart M. Ketchum-Central City YMCA, the first downtown Los Angeles facility for the YMCA in 16 years.

The facility also marks another first, say its promoters. It's the first time that a new addition to a downtown building also represents, as they phrase it, "a separate and distinct entity for a different owner."

A long-term lease for the use of the two-acre rooftop was negotiated with the garage owners, Flower Street Ltd., a partnership of Atlantic Richfield Co. and Bank of America. The Community Redevelopment Agency of Los Angeles sanctioned the $12.8-million project, named for Ketchum, YMCA vice chairman and real estate developer. He spent 15 years negotiating for the site and development of the building and personally donated an estimated $3 million toward its construction.

Dominated by Three Modules

Scheduled for completion in November, 1986, the facility will appear as a contemporary, sleek pavilion, with 110,000 gross square feet of space, in the middle of a landscaped park. The exterior will be clear glass and Teflon-painted metal panels with a metal rib roof coated with a Teflon-based paint. It will have a stepped appearance, ascending from Hope Street, where it will be at ground level.

The YMCA facility will be dominated by three modules with glass and metal facades. The main or highest module will have an Olympic-length swimming pool on a level below six handball/racquetball courts. The next module will have a dividable gym with two basketball courts rimmed by an elevated, indoor running track. (The main entry and lobby off 4th Street will be at this module.) The third module will have an auxiliary gym for aerobics, karate and ballet; a weight-training room; Nautilus room; fitness-testing center, and locker/shower rooms for men and women that will include whirlpool, steam, sauna and tanning booths and private lockers.

The rest of the building, at its lowest point closest to Hope Street, will have offices, meeting rooms, a chapel, health food cafe, pro shop and lobby.

The design, by Albert C. Martin & Associates, was influenced by two criteria: structural limitations of the existing garage and the programs or building features required by the YMCA. For example, the pool was placed in the largest module, closest to Flower Street, because the greatest load-bearing capacity is at that point.

Landscaping will create a parklike setting with emphasis on a sculpture garden and several public places throughout the open areas. The landscape architect is Emmett L. Wemple & Associates of Orange County. C. L. Peck of Los Angeles is the building contractor.

The YMCA of Metropolitan Los Angeles has not had a facility in the downtown area since 1969, when its building at 7th and Hope streets was razed to make way for the Broadway Plaza.

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