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Design Center Has Whale of a Plan for Its Expansion

September 15, 1985|EVELYN De WOLFE

A two-phase, $150-million expansion announced by the Pacific Design Center will more than double the showroom space at the West Hollywood interior design and home furnishings facility. An additional 825,000 square feet is planned, for a total mart area in excess of 1.5 million square feet.

Commonly referred to as the "Blue Whale," the huge blue glass structure will be joined by two other brightly colored buildings, one sheathed in green glass and the other in maroon.

The expansion adjacent to the existing six-story blue-glass building on the corner of San Vicente Boulevard and Melrose Avenue, according to executive director Murray Feldman, is a step taken in response to escalating demand for showroom space in that area.

Plans proposed earlier for a hotel have been dropped in lieu of the needed showroom space, he said. Another factor cited was that several hotels are located near the center--Le Parc, the Bel Age, the Hyatt Sunset and Le Mondrian, among them.

Ground breaking for the expansion project is scheduled for next June, followed by 20 months of construction.

"We are now fully leased, and there is a waiting list for another 300,000 square feet to serve new tenants and those looking for showroom expansion," Feldman said. He added that in the past six months, 95% of the tenants whose leases were to expire by January, 1987, have renewed in advance. This includes the Baker, Knapp & Tubbs showroom which has extended its lease to the year 2000.

(The Times reported Aug. 11 that the prominent firm was considering a move to Palace Square, the downtown complex currently under development as a wholesale marketplace for interior furnishings by a joint venture of Double RB Associates and the Palace Square Development Group. The complex includes two landmark structures, the May Co. and the Eastern Columbia buildings and will cover a square block bordered by Broadway, Hill, 8th and 9th streets.)

Feldman said, "Additionally, we have welcomed 25 new tenants and expanded showrooms for nine tenants. This is a rewarding affirmation of PDC's success in an area of continued and growing vitality."

West Week, PDC's annual design conference, has become an event of international importance in the design community and, Feldman added, was attended last year by more than 22,000 people.

Team Reunited

Pacific Design Center's original architectural team of Cesar Pelli, design architect, and Gruen Associates, has been reunited for the new project that includes a two-acre landscaped public plaza off San Vicente Boulevard with a 5,000-square-foot exhibition gallery and a 300-seat amphitheater to serve the community.

In describing the design for the overall complex, Pelli said: "The first building was conceived as a large fragment or over-scale element in an unusual bright color; the added elements also are conceived as separate overscale fragments in strong contrasting colors."

The expansion program for Pacific Design Center will allow for the original building to become integrated with future elements of the complex by means of a blue glass base from which the two additional buildings will rise.

Including the base, the Phase 2 building will be a 425,000-square-foot, eight-story domed tower with a green glass skin, and Phase 3 will consist of 400,000 square feet on seven levels, sheathed in maroon-colored glass.

Central Court Plan

Three vertically stacked malls will be open in the center to create a series of two- and three-level spaces, lending a feeling of airiness to the complex. The top three floors of the eight-story tower in Phase 2 will be covered by a domed skylight that will soar about 75 feet above the sixth floor, creating a central court reminiscent of the treatment in the original building.

Natural light will also filter in through the upper levels of the Phase 3 building by means of a giant skylight.

The Phase 2 tower will accommodate a conference center with a 500-seat auditorium, meeting rooms and a restaurant. A seven-level parking structure is to be built east of the new buildings.

Vertical circulation will be provided by existing escalators and a common escalator bank that will serve the new facilities.

Owners and developers of Pacific Design Center are Birtcher Pacific, Laguna Niguel; Santa Fe Southern Pacific Corp., San Francisco, and the World Wide Group, New York City.

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