New Partner Jonathan Watts Joins Longtime KFA Principals John Arnold and Lise Bornstein
Santa Monica, CA — KFA (Killefer Flammang Architects), Los Angeles’ full-service, award-winning architecture firm, has announced three new partners. Joining founders Wade Killefer and Barbara Flammang as partners are John Arnold, AIA, Lise Bornstein, AIA and Jonathan Watts, AIA. Arnold and Bornstein are longtime KFA Principals while Watts is former Principal of Cuningham Group Architecture. The three expand the diverse legacy KFA established over the past 40 years in reshaping the Los Angeles cityscape.
“Coming off KFA’s 40th anniversary, we are excited to announce leadership for the next decade and beyond,” said Founder Wade Killefer. “Our new partners are innovators in many different architectural disciplines. They are poised to create more places that help make Los Angeles one of the world’s great cities.”
KFA has brought to fruition innumerable landmarks and important projects in the realms of educational and public buildings, multi-family housing, affordable housing (designing approximately 3,500 affordable units in Southern California), adaptive reuse (including some of Los Angeles’ greatest historical buildings), hospitality and many others.
“Barbara and I have tremendous confidence in our new generation of leadership,” he said. “This team is immersed in placemaking that draws from the city’s great past while projecting a future that it needs and desires. KFA will continue to have a lasting imprint on Los Angeles.”
Watts has been practicing architecture and land-use planning for 30 years in Los Angeles. His passion for great design and livable communities has led to work in many different cities and on many different building types, including mixed-use urban infill, multi-family housing, hotel, office, retail and entertainment.
“Design is the real value architects bring to clients and communities,” said Watts. “It is essential to creating beautiful, sustainable environments as well as high-functioning, profitable projects for the clients that commission them. That has been the firm’s calling card and I am excited to continue strengthening the KFA design process, especially for new buildings.”
Among Watts’ work is the complex and transformational Ivy Station. This highly-anticipated Culver City development adjacent to the Metro Expo Line will be an energetic center for residents and visitors, with 500,000 square feet of state-of-the-art office, apartments, a hotel, stores and restaurants within a landmark environment.
Bornstein has been with KFA since 2001 and sees her Partner role as a continuation of the firm’s redefining Los Angeles density.
“We are active community participants, creating elegant, original and sustainable urban infill,” she said. “And our clients are visionary in their own ways: They see the potential in typology of unit types and how the city’s demographics are shifting. They, and everyone on our team, exhibit passion and camaraderie that shows in the work we do.”
Bornstein applies this approach to KFA’s well-known affordable housing as well as a broad range of market-rate residential designs. Equally significant is her large-scale masterplan work, such as KFA’s collaboration with MGA Entertainment to transform an underutilized 24-acre site of the former L.A. Times Chatsworth printing facility into a vibrant campus. The existing 255,000-square-foot building will become creative office and production space, with the surrounding concrete and asphalt giving way to 660 housing units and retail.
With KFA since 1999, Arnold looks toward developing a new generation to carry on its design prowess and creative culture.
“Wade has often said we’re good listeners, and it’s true,” said Arnold. “We listen to what clients, the community and cities want, distilling that input with our wide experience to create projects that succeed on many levels. It’s a very positive ethic that filters all the way down to our friendly working environment and personal approach.”
Among Arnold’s current marquee projects are two high-profile but very different hospitality developments for Sydell Group: NoMad and Freehand, both in Downtown Los Angeles. For NoMad L.A. KFA is restoring a 12-story structure into a magnificent, 250-room luxury hotel with a grand lobby, retail space, a bar, restaurant, library, and rooftop event space and swimming pool. Freehand is a cutting-edge hostel/hotel brand that caters to group, international, and youth travelers.
Arnold also directs residential trends. The Micropolitan at Chandler will be a seven-story, 82-apartment, transit-oriented building at one end of a North Hollywood city park: “Our solution to this difficult site was to imagine a vertically accented mini-highrise, like a stylish Central Park apartment building, rather than a more-expected California courtyard building. This approach has been quite successful. We are applying equally innovative approaches to the new Seabluff condominiums in the heart of Playa Vista, creating unique, downtown loft-style spaces in that Westside urban setting.”
KFA by the Numbers
Over its first 40 years, KFA has designed over $4 billion of Los Angeles developments (project value, not billings, calculated in 2016 dollars):
151 housing projects
15,205 residential units
3,436 affordable housing units
904 units on Skid Row
4,416 adaptive reuse units
1,282 hotel rooms (built and soon to come)
30+ adaptive reuse projects
12 recreation projects
4 fire stations
11 project buildings listed on the National Register of Historic Places
70 current projects – 56 are new-construction projects
7,426 units currently in the pipeline (residential and hotel; new and adaptive reuse)
Over 7,500,000 square feet of current projects (new and adaptive reuse)
Tuesday, November 24 2015
Re-Imaging LA: How campus projects are re-shaping Los Angeles
1. How does the 201 Lexington Campus project play a part in reshaping/reimagining L.A.?
New urban infill mixed-use apartment buildings like 201 Lexington play a critical role in bringing housing to job centers with a residual effect of reducing peak-hour automobile traffic and commuting times. Many residents that live in new housing in the heart of downtown Glendale will either walk, bike, or take public transit to work. Those that still choose to drive their cars to work will likely have shorter commutes than they otherwise would have. This transit-oriented model is being followed in many of the urban centers of Los Angeles – most notably Downtown LA, Hollywood, and even Santa Monica to a certain extent.
2. How has the local/regional community received your development?
Community can also refer to the client’s industry/sector and/or social/cultural impact if applicable. Glendale city council and its Planning Department is a talented, forward-looking group – many municipalities would do well to follow their lead. They administer a creative Specific Plan that encourages appropriately scaled residential development near the existing job base. The Specific Plan also incentivizes sustainable development and the creation of open space. The result of our project will be the development of a 12,900 SF paseo, which will become a great public open space. Beyond creating great public space, this type of urban infill brings life to the downtown district 24/7.
3. What was the drive to create the project? What were the markets, opportunities, and services that were taken into consideration?
As with any of our projects, the key to Century West Partners’ interest in this site was its central location. Frequently, our projects are located on the edge of the urban core. 201 Lexington is in the center of the action in Glendale – with great access to jobs, the highway and Nordstrom and Whole Foods along with easy access to downtown LA.
4. Why this project? Why now?
Because we found a great architecture team that we enjoy working with.
Tuesday, November 24 2015
KFA Moderates Adaptive Re-Use / Affordable Housing Panel Discussion at the 2015 SCANPH Conference
KFA moderated an important affordable housing discussion panel at the 2015 SCANPH Conference held at the JW Marriott hotel in Downtown Los Angeles last month. As an expert in adaptive reuse design, KFA Principal, John Arnold, AIA, lead the focused conversation on the topic of the conversion of underused commercial buildings into affordable housing projects. For over 20 years, KFA has been at the forefront of the adaptive reuse movement and has designed and assisted its clients in finding solutions for transforming historic buildings into modern affordable homes, market-rate residences, hotels, and retail establishments.
The panel showcased a few of KFA’s affordable housing clients and the projects they are developing and completing to provide safe, comfortable homes and permanent supportive housing for formerly homeless individuals, seniors, and individuals with special needs. The panel featured Maurice Ramirez, Executive Vice President, AMCAL Multi-Housing; Cristian Ahumada, Executive Director, Clifford Beers Housing; Jesse Slansky, Real Estate Director, West Hollywood Community Housing Corporation; and Sasha Truong, Project Manager, Skid Row Housing Trust. Each panelist spoke about their recently completed adaptive reuse affordable housing projects, and answered questions pertaining to trends, financing, design, development, politics, and overcoming unforeseen obstacles.
Cristian Ahumada presented Clifford Beers Housings’ 28th Street Apartments, a conversion of the historic South LA YMCA into 48 units of affordable housing. One of the obstacles he presented was the need to reduce the existing housing unit count in order to adhere to new square footage and unit amenity requirements, a process, which can be politically and publicly difficult to overcome. Reducing the unit count can reduce the affordability level for future tenants. Because of the building’s historic status, the historic building code was used to help mitigate some of the difficulties encountered.
Maurice Ramirez of AMCAL discussed the recently completed Hollenbeck Terrace Apartments, an adaptive reuse of the former Linda Vista Hospital into 120 modern senior residences with support services. He provided invaluable insight into the multiple construction issues they encountered during each phase of the project. Maurice also provided a detailed explanation of the budgetary process and further broke down the public and private funding sources available for sizeable adaptive reuse projects.
WHCHC’s Jesse Slansky presented the adaptive reuse of a vacant, substandard apartment building in West Hollywood that was transformed into the Hayworth House, an affordable housing community for low-income seniors. He explained the local political issues WHCHC faced during the development and construction of this adaptive reuse project. Together with KFA, they were collaboratively able to find solutions for universal design, accessibility, community spaces, modernization, and building and unit configurations.
Sasha Truong with Skid Row Housing Trust presented the New Pershing Apartments, which opened in 2015. This project is a reconstruction of a three-story Single Room Occupancy (SRO) Hotel at the southeast corner of 5th and Main. It is one of the last Victorian era buildings left in Downtown Los Angeles and was converted into 69 units of affordable housing for formerly homeless individuals who have special needs or require rehabilitative care. She discussed the importance of being committed to design equity and the environment in which tenants live as being vital to a person’s recovery and stabilization.
They all agreed that the adaptive reuse of historic structures for affordable housing can provide a great benefit to the residents, while preserving a valued building within a community by giving it new life and a greater purpose. Reused buildings encounter much less resistance in communities than new construction.
Generally, historic buildings have more common areas and outdoor open space than new construction. Residents benefit from the organized social interactions and conversations that spring up in the community gathering spaces such as a communal garden, courtyard, or community kitchen. Historically significant buildings used for adaptive reuse projects are often centrally located near urban cores with attractive amenities, as well as providing quick and easy access to major employment centers, public transit, schools and daycares, retail options, health facilities, and recreational opportunities. Close proximity to needed services is valuable to residents who cannot afford a vehicle or can no longer drive, and to children and teens who walk to school and to nearby community activities.
Adaptive reuse can also serve as a strategy to change attitudes and stereotypes that often accompany affordable housing development. By restoring a valued structure within the community, these projects can help the communities view affordable housing as an asset instead of a detriment. Further, adaptive reuse of historic buildings for affordable housing can increase community pride as it increases nearby property values. Adaptive reuse can further contribute to downtown revitalization efforts by restoring a unique sensibility and preserving character in the heart of a city.
All panelists agreed that adaptive reuse projects require complex funding streams, and that it is becoming increasingly difficult to put deals together. In the future, this will require more creativity in finding sites, and future rehabilitation projects for affordable housing may shift from adaptive reuse conversions to straight-up rehabs of existing multi-family buildings.
We appreciate our clients’ participation and the time they took to be panelists and answer difficult questions regarding the adaptive reuse process.
KFA (Killefer Flammang Architects) recently celebrated its 40th anniversary of design excellence at an outdoor party held in its parking lot at Olympic Blvd. and 17th St. in Santa Monica. Friends, family, clients, and other well-wishers were in abundance – as were the food trucks that catered the event.
The firm was started by husband-and-wife team Barbara Flammang and Wade Killefer, who met at UCLA when they were both getting their masters degrees in architecture. Flammang and Killefer live in Santa Monica and are active members of the community.
KFA has had a significant impact on the local architectural scene, having designed libraries, educational buildings, multifamily housing, and affordable housing.
KFA has played a leading role in securing affordable housing for low-income individuals, including the formerly homeless. KFA has designed approximately 3,500 units of affordable housing, including a dozen single room occupancy hotels and almost 1,000 units on Skid Row.
KFA has also been highly influential in the movement to adapt and re-use historical buildings, especially in Downtown Los Angeles.
Legacy projects include: the Old Bank District, Eastern Columbia building, Ace Hotel, Broadway Hollywood, Taft Building, Title Guarantee building, The Chapman, Rowan Building, Roosevelt Lofts, Pegasus, Pacific Electric lofts, 1010 Wilshire, and Grand Lofts.
This wave of renovations began with the 1999 passage of Los Angeles’ Adaptive Reuse ordinance, and included KFA’s transformative efforts in The Old Bank District.
“The Historic Core of Los Angeles experienced a huge renewal, as many of its stately but abandoned office buildings were repurposed to residential use,” Killefer said. “Downtown’s population increased five-fold and we rehabilitated over 40 historic buildings.”
Closer to home, KFA has made its mark in Santa Monica as well. KFA served as architects for: Pico 11, a 32-unit development on Pico Blvd. off 11th St., which is one of the few apartment projects to be approved by the City of Santa Monica this year; Step up on Colorado, planned permanent supportive housing for homeless individuals; and Seabluff in Playa Vista, new condominiums (construction will start soon).
“Over 40 years we have learned that the best architecture comes from the best clients. We have been lucky to draw inspiration from visionaries who set high goals and pushed us toward them,” Killefer said.
Killefer is on the board of the Santa Monica Boys and Girls Club. Flammang served as board president of the Westside YWCA.
The couple raised two children, Joe and Annie, in Santa Monica. Joe graduated from Loyola High School and later, Dartmouth College. He is now in the field of construction management and development and will marry Jennifer Dunn this October.
Annie, a graduate of Santa Monica High and Bard College, has a specialty in international conflict resolution and is now in Nepal providing post-earthquake relief. Earlier this year she did a stint for Oxfam in South Sudan.
Friday, September 11 2015
EXPO-ADJACENT “KAUFMANN APARTMENTS AT STEP UP ON COLORADO” OPENS IN DOWNTOWN SANTA MONICA
Downtown Santa Monica is one of the few places in the city where any new housing gets built, including affordable housing. The Kaufmann Apartments at Step Up on Colorado is the latest project to open in the city’s thriving Downtown.
The new building, located less than a block from the Expo light rail stop in Downtown Santa Monica, provides 32 new homes for people who are experiencing homelessness and mental illness.
Lise Bornstein, a principal with KFA, said that the design was driven by desire to incorporate the building into the community fabric.
“We wanted people to feel like they have roots in their community,” she said. What happens beyond the unit is equally important to what happens in the unit.
A question that helped drive the design was, “How can we organize the building to promote integration into the community?”
To that end, Bornstein said, the design has semi-private balconies, common space within the building, and a front porch feel at the ground level.
“The tenants can sometimes feel isolated, so we wanted [the design] to give them an opportunity for community spaces and gathering spaces that look out into the city,” Bornstein said.
The building is designed to meet at least a LEED Gold — and possibly a LEED Platinum — designation from the U.S. Green Building Council for its sustainability features, including a solar-heated water system and the use of recycled water from the city’s urban runoff treatment facility (SMURF) for irrigation.
Providing well-designed housing for people experiencing chronic homelessness is just one facet of Step Up’s mission, however. It’s also about providing people who live in these buildings with community, said Carolyn Baker, vice president of community development for the nonprofit.
“Housing is healthcare,” she said. Making sure that people experiencing homelessness, many of whom struggle with mental health issues, have a safe place to live is a medical issue, she said.
Step Up buildings provide not only shelter for the most vulnerable members of our community, they also provide “a rich array of support services,” in which tenants can — but are not required to — participate, Baker said.
Those services include medical and mental health care, assistance in accessing whatever benefits tenants may be entitled to, access to whatever benefits they may eligible, job opportunities, vocational programs, and about 60 different types of tenant-driven groups, like art, creative writing, yoga, support circles.
Step Up also provides meals at hub locations, like Step Up on Vine (in Hollywood) — whose opening in 2013 was attended by former president Bill Clinton — and Step Up on Second, just a few blocks away from the new Kauffman Apartments.
The new building marks a milestone for the Santa Monica-based nonprofit. In 2010, when Step Up and Hollywood Community Housing Corporation opened its Step Up on Vine Street location to much fanfare — the ribbon cutting was attended by former president Bill Clinton — the nonprofit announced its commitment to build 200 units to house people experiencing homelessness.
The Kaufmann Apartments at Step Up on Colorado marks the achievement of that goal, said Baker. And, to celebrate the achievement, Step Up will hold an official opening ceremony for the new building on September 24.
But Step Up is not content to stop there, she said. Next, the nonprofit will be targeting homeless vets in Los Angeles and will set a new benchmark: 400 new permanent supportive homes for these vulnerable community members.
Step Up is one of the nonprofits working with the West L.A. Veterans Affairs (VA) campus as it undergoes a master plan design process in order to create new supportive housing for veterans who are experiencing homelessness.
Step Up was an early adopter of the “housing first” model of helping people who are experiencing homelessness. The idea behind the model is to get people into permanent supportive housing first in order to address the root causes that led to those people living on the streets.
Baker recalled one resident who, before moving into a Step Up building, was living in a cardboard box. When she moved into her new apartment, this woman brought the cardboard box with her because it was what she had become used to.
“We moved the box in with her and within a few months, she asked us to get rid of the box,” said Baker.
Step Up, which has about 140 housing units in Santa Monica alone, boasts about a 90 percent retention rate, which means that once they get people into safe homes, those people are likely to stay there, said Baker.
That’s good news, not only if you believe combating homelessness is a moral issue, but also it costs tax payers about 40 percent less to find homes for people than if those people remained without homes, Baker said.
Still, L.A. County has one of the largest population of people who are without homes in the country. While the majority of people experience homelessness for a short period of time, Baker said, there is a core group of about 6,000 people who experience chronic homelessness.
That core group is who Step Up tries to reach, going so far as to putting together “street outreach” teams that consist of medical professionals and people who formerly experienced homelessness. Those teams go out and speak to people living on the streets in order to try to connect them to the services they need.
Baker said, often times people think that those people experiencing homelessness are resistant to getting help. But, in reality, they aren’t “service resistant,” Baker said. They are “system resistant because the system isn’t really designed to meet them where they are.”
Housing first works, but only if there is enough housing. “It’s really a mass issue. There aren’t enough units available,” Baker said. But Step Up — and other nonprofits — are chipping away at the problem little by little.
Jason Islas is the editor of Santa Monica Next and the director of the Vote Local Campaign. Before joining Next in May 2014, Jason had covered land use, transit, politics and breaking news for The Lookout, the city’s oldest news website, since February 2011.
Tuesday, September 08 2015
How I Made It: Architect Breathes New Life into L.A.’s Historic Core – LA TIMES – Sept. 6, 2015
How I Made It: Architect Breathes New Life into L.A.’s Historic Core Wade Killefer
By Roger Vincent
Architect Wade Killefer, an expert in converting old buildings to new uses, says he is most proud of his contributions toward creating residences for people of modest economic means. (Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times)
The gig: Wade Killefer, who has always liked building things, has become one of the go-to architects for developers who want to convert historic buildings in downtown Los Angeles to new uses such as housing or hotels. Among his most prominent residential conversions are the Art Deco-style Eastern Columbia Building, a former department store on Broadway, and the Pegasus, a former oil company headquarters on Flower Street. But that’s just one specialty for an architect who has also designed single-family homes, libraries, schools and apartment buildings.
HistoricPlacesLA The Eastern Columbia Building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. (Rick Loomis / Los Angeles Times)
Early years: Killefer, 66, grew up in Washington, D.C., and earned a degree in English from Stanford University. Having no particular career in mind upon graduation, he joined a carpenters union to take part in its apprentice program. Soon he decided that his life interests came together in architecture. “Both writing and architecture are about having an idea and then supporting it. They’re just different means of expression,” Killefer said.
Getting launched: Killefer returned to school, securing a graduate degree in architecture at UCLA. There he met his wife and business partner, architect Barbara Flammang. “Barb was a classmate. We were both late to graduate school and had the two worst seats in the studio,” he recalled. Their Santa Monica firm Killefer Flammang Architects just celebrated its 40th anniversary.
Starting small: Many of Killefer’s first jobs involved designing and building houses, and he both drew and literally dug trenches. Soon there was enough demand for his design skills that the architect was able to put down his tool belt and concentrate solely on architecture. He designed a library for a friend and then a private school.
Making a mark: In 1990, the firm completed its first historic renovation, the Mary Andrews Clark Memorial Building on the edge of downtown. The elegant former YWCA residence for young women built in 1913 in the style of a French chateau was converted to housing for low-income single workers. That led to designing conversions of an old office building and the former luxury Town House hotel, both also near downtown, to affordable housing.
Lean years: During the real estate downturn of the 1990s, Killefer concentrated on libraries, schools and other public buildings, including fire stations. His firm became the campus architect for Loyola High School, a Jesuit preparatory school for young men that is one of the oldest schools in Los Angeles. “We’ve had a pretty varied practice,” Killefer said.
Finding a niche: Killefer’s expertise in converting old buildings to new uses made him a likely candidate to join Los Angeles developer Tom Gilmore’s pioneering plan to take advantage of the city’s Adaptive Reuse Ordinance of 1999. Gilmore surprised many real estate industry observers with his financially successful creation of housing, restaurants and shops in rundown former office buildings in downtown’s historic core. Other developers soon followed with similar projects. “Everybody thought Tom would fail,” Killefer said, “and then people said, ‘If that guy can do it, we can do it.'”
Priming the pump: Following that success, Killefer and his team walked the historic core of downtown and in 2001 created a list of buildings that would be suitable for adaptive reuse. Since then, his firm has designed the adaptive reuse of more than 40 downtown buildings. Among the latest downtown are the popular Ace Hotel and the NoMad and Freehand hotels, both under construction in long-vacant office buildings.
Exterior of the United Artists Theatre in the Ace Hotel at 937 S. Broadway in downtown Los Angeles. (Al Seib/Los Angeles Times)
Speed bumps: Business for architects ebbs and flows with real estate cycles. When the market goes cold, like it did during the last economic downturn, business dries up. Killefer and his wife didn’t take salaries from their firm during a tough year in the late 2000s. “Recessions are brutal,” he said.
Personal best: Killefer said he is most proud of his contributions toward creating residences for people of modest economic means. His latest is the New Pershing Apartments, a 69-unit complex built by the Skid Row Housing Trust at 5th and Main streets in downtown L.A. Killefer’s design saved the three-story facade of the Charnock Block building erected there in 1889 that later became known as the Pershing Hotel. Family time: Killefer and Flammang live in Santa Monica, where their firm his based. In his off-hours, he likes to spend time outdoors, hiking and fishing. They have two grown children, a daughter who is doing earthquake relief work in Nepal and a son who is a real estate developer — a suprise career choice to Killefer. “When they were growng up, we took them around to look at buildings and they thought there was nothing more boring than that,” he said.
Design trends: The architect supports dense development, especially housing, in the blocks around transportation hubs such as train stations. Most recent buildings are three to seven stories, but Killefer would prefer taller buildings with open space around them. “I hope the next generation will be taller, thinner buildings,” he said.