Monday, May 09 2016

Hollenbeck Terrace – 2016 Los Angeles Conservancy Preservation Project Award Winner

Tuesday, March 29 2016

An Interview with Thomas W. Wulf of Lowe Enterprises

Tom Wulf headshotIvy Station is a complicated, mixed-use project. What has been the biggest challenge and the greatest opportunity?

Clearly, it is more exciting to me to consider the greatest opportunity, and in this case, we collectively have the responsibility to create an activated, energetic, mixed-use development directly on one of LA’s newest light-rail transit lines, the EXPO line. Our mission is to build value in real estate by creating innovative and lasting environments for people to live, work and play. That is exactly our goal with Ivy Station.

The greatest challenge? Like any development project there are many constraints and stakeholders involved. Here, that is only magnified by the fact that the site has shared jurisdiction of both Culver City and Los Angeles. In addition, given the station proximity and transit parking, Metro rounds out the trifecta of agencies. Each of these bring along a multitude of requirements and site planning constraints. Layer this in with community, economic, constructability and market conditions, and there are many factors at work that must be managed and addressed.

How do you see TOD changing the way Los Angeles is growing?

I look at demand for residential and commercial space, and we see the growing desire from tenants to eliminate the commute and live in walkable, pedestrian oriented environments. This trend, combined with the significant investment in infrastructure throughout LA (the rail system is doubling in size), is changing the face of development and the landscape of the Los Angeles area. Properties surrounding transit stations are the new “freeway off-ramp” location that are in great demand. The challenge is that most locations directly adjacent to the transit stations are small in scale making it difficult to create meaningful impacts. Thankfully at Ivy Station we have the size to create a true destination and a mix of uses.

How different is creating place in Culver City compared with, say, DTLA?

I don’t think it is significantly different between the two locations. It is more site specific and relating to the context of the neighborhood in either location. Both Culver City and DTLA both have an existing fabric of commercial uses, a strong history and access to transit. In Culver City, we have the difference that we have more area to work with and can therefore create a more meaningful space within the development. It also relates to the demographics; in downtown we see a younger resident, while Culver City brings an established neighborhood of families and a broad range of residents.

How do you see Culver City changing in the next 5 years given the current wave of development?

Culver City has always been a desirable location – on the Westside with easy and convenient access to both downtown LA and the beach areas. Now that access is only magnified with the addition of the EXPO line. I see responsible and balanced development that will enhance the walkability of the community and provide a mix of uses (residential, commercial, hotel & retail) that will only foster additional vibrancy of the area. The area will be home to more residential development as well as commercial space. More than anything, I see Culver City being linked together more than ever before. The TOD area will be the hinge that will link downtown to Helms and the Arts District and Hayden Tract.

Do you think our communities understand the value of design?

Absolutely, although some communities value it more than others. Good design certainly adds value to properties although it must be a balanced approach as additional costs must create additional revenue or we will never be able to build it. It’s no doubt that good design is recognized and rewarded once complete. Sometimes the challenge is presenting and convincing others in the planning stages to take the additional risk in order to reap the rewards. Nothing is certain, but quality design and attention to details are essential for success.

What still gets you excited about doing what you do?

The most important thing about what I do every day, and keeps me excited, is the ability to create. The ability to dream, coordinate and create high quality places for us all to live, work and play. There are not many fields where you have the ability to touch ones’ senses in so many ways and impact lives for a generation to come. Sure there are the challenges, the process and the headaches along the way – those are exciting too – just in a different way! The process is exciting, but the finished product is the true reward.

Tuesday, March 29 2016

Introducing Ivy Station


The highly-anticipated Ivy Station development will be Main Story Graphic Feb March v3500,000 SF of high quality, state-of-the-art office, residences, hotel, stores and restaurants within a landmark, destination-oriented environment. With the opening of the Metro Expo Line in June 2012, excitement about the area has substantially gained interest. This development is located at the intersections of Venice, Washington and National Boulevards. Just adjacent to the terminus of the Metro Expo Line of Culver City, this area is expected to become an energetic center of life for residents and visitors alike.

Ivy Station is a mixed-use transit-oriented development that provides a mix of retail, office, hotel and residential uses surrounding a large central open space and conveniently served by light rail and bus transit in Culver City. The project includes a stand-alone 5-story office building with retail and restaurant space on the ground floor and offices located on all levels. In addition, two interconnected 5 to 6-story buildings atop a single-level podium include a 200-unit residential building and a 148-room boutique hotel building, both of which will have ground floor retail and restaurant space. The three buildings are built over a three level subterranean parking structure. The project scale will reflect the surrounding area with additional building setbacks, step backs and offsets to create visual interest in the building design.

The Metro Expo Line connects the Westside by rail to Downtown L.A., Hollywood, the South Bay, Long Beach, Pasadena and dozens of points in between, making the ride from Culver City to Downtown less than 30 minutes. With a convenient stop at Ivy Station, commuters will have easy access to the businesses, residences and retail of the area. Subterranean parking for Metro riders will also be provided.

Ivy Station includes a total of approximately 136,000 SF feet of public and private outdoor open spaces, gateways, landscape treatments, and amenity spaces all designed in collaboration with Melendrez. This includes a Great Lawn and Central Plaza that will be a programmed for occasional daytime or evening special events. Concerts, movie nights, wine & cheese festivals, fitness classes, holiday craft fairs and seasonal activities are just some of the activities planned for the park. The Great Lawn and Central Plaza will be accessible from the train, office, retail areas, hotel and residential units, creating a dynamic place for the public, commuters, hotel guests and residents to enjoy. Retail and café uses will line the park area and the transit plaza providing opportunities for shopping and dining experiences.

The project’s landscape and streetscape design are key elements that will help promote a more livable, accessible, and vibrant neighborhood. Streetscape improvements around the site are intended to promote area revitalization through the implementation of pedestrian-friendly streetscape enhancements including canopy street trees, street furniture, graphics, and new crosswalk paving.

Private open spaces include a residential pool courtyard, a landscaped residential courtyard, a club room terrace, a gym deck, and a roof terrace. The hotel will provide public open space including a hotel courtyard space provided on the second level podium. The hotel will also have a 6th floor, rooftop pool deck.


Ivy Station includes a Transit Plaza extending from Venice Blvd. on the west to the Expo Station platform, and provides gathering spaces to serve commuters, project residents, employees and the local community, including locations for commuter related retail. Envisioned as a natural extension of the existing space beneath the platform, this public space offers a hardscape and landscaped place to linger for transit riders travelling both to and from the escalator, elevator and stairs that access the platform. The Transit Plaza also provides an appropriately civic space within which Metro’s Bike Rental Hub can reside, maximizing its visibility, and complimenting it with additional short-term bike parking at its edges.



The office building, designed by Ehrlich Architects, features generous amenities and indoor-outdoor spaces that take advantage of the complex’s high visibility and urban location. The office building will serve as the “Front Door” to the project and the Expo station. Balconies on the south façade of the office building will overlook the Great Lawn and Central Plaza below. The ground floor will provide restaurant and retail spaces, enhancing the pedestrian experience and taking advantage of the complex’s high visibility and urban location.



The Hotel at Ivy Station will be a 5-6 story boutique style hotel with 148 rooms. The hotel places significant focus on creating memorable public spaces in the lobby, lounge and the restaurant to appeal to hotel guests and local residents. Hotel amenities will include a gym, outdoor terrace, ballroom, meeting space and a board-room, and a pool and spa deck located on the roof.



The Residential Building is 5-6 stories and will include 200 residential units. Similar to the hotel building, the massing of the residential building is carefully designed to maximize views out and create a varied streetscape experience. The residential building has three different roof levels. The ground level of the residential building will have retail and restaurant storefronts along National Boulevard, the interior open space area and the paseo parallel to the Expo platform. Amenities will include a pool with courtyard space, a landscaped courtyard, gym, clubroom, and outdoor terraces.



The residences are contained within two buildings on a single podium. On top of the podium will sit a series of sculpted, v-shaped courtyards providing as much natural light as possible, views out for internal units and privacy for the residential pool courtyard. The building massing is an exciting, geometric response to the courtyards, plazas and open space and creates a striking approach to the train station for passengers. The residential and hotel buildings are designed to interact as one dynamic building form while at the same time providing a clear horizontal separation.

Thursday, March 17 2016


Saturday, February 27 2016

Los Angeles Business Journal CRE Awards 2016

Tuesday, January 26 2016

Meet the KFrosh: KFA’s 2016 Freshman Class

KFrosh2016_graphic2Our office is bustling with new faces and we are excited about opportunities to collaborate as we grow. We interviewed our newest freshman class and asked each of them to give us a brief introduction:

Veronica Castro, AIA is a Puerto Rican architect who moved to L.A. after earning her Bachelor of Architecture from Syracuse University. All of her favorite activities involve getting friends together to spend time outdoors – she spends most of her weekends either surfing, skiing, or exploring L.A.’s local hikes and bike paths. During the week, she likes to wind down after work by cooking any sort of interesting recipe she can get her hands on. After living in L.A., she has developed an appreciation for the make-up of the city and the idea of small, diverse neighborhoods forming a metropolis that has something to offer to everyone, regardless of where you come from.

Lee Cooper, AIA earned his BA from Auburn University, completing his thesis with The Rural Studio. After stints in Chicago and Austin, he spent the past several years in his hometown of Birmingham working on various healthcare and higher education projects before deciding to relocate to Los Angeles to learn more about multi-family. Both he and his wife are enjoying exploring their new environs and can most often be found peddling back from the beach with a breakfast burrito in their bike basket.

Jeff DeWitt was raised in the topographically diverse, beautiful state of Michigan.  He attended the University of Michigan, where he received a BS in Architecture in April 2015.  He moved to LA shortly after to join the fantastic team at KFA.  Outside of work, he watches a lot of Netflix and peruses Facebook.  On rare occasions, he also has been known to go biking, run in the mountains, play the piano, sing, act, eat, pray, read, sleep, ponder, visit movie studios, go to the Westin Bonaventure Hotel (his favorite building in LA) and to the movies.

Christina Hackett graduated with her BA in Architecture from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo in 2012. Having grown up in the scenic foothills near the Sequoia National Forrest, she moved to the Los Angeles shortly after graduation to pursue her passion of architecture and sustainable design. Outside of the office she enjoys night bike rides along the beach path, TRX classes and spending time with family.

Jeehyun Joo is a native of Seoul, South Korea where she attended Kookmin University to earn her B.Arch. degree. She moved to Los Angeles to attend the M.Arch degree program at the University of Southern California. After graduation, Jeehyun joined the KFA team to further her career as an architect. Personally she likes challenges—she is finally learning how to swim to get over her fear of water.

Elizabeth Kang received her Bachelor degree in Environmental Design from Texas A&M and went on to earn her M.Arch from Cornell University. Although originally from Texas, she lived in South Korea for awhile and then moved to Los Angeles in 2014 after graduating from Cornell. The complex nature of LA’s architecture is one of the reasons why she moved to LA. As an architect, the “chaos” in this case is not necessarily a negative thing but rather an exciting challenge. To her, the richness of the culture means endless possibilities. Elizabeth enjoys exploring nearby California locations while taking weekend trips with family and friends. She also enjoys photography, crafting, discovering new hole in the wall restaurants and especially going to markets in foreign cities.

Pedro Melis, AIA is a native from Caracas, Venezuela, where he earned his Bachelor’s degree in Architecture. He moved to the US to pursue a Master’s degree from the University of Michigan and soon after graduation, he relocated to Chicago where he spent more than a decade practicing Architecture. Destiny (and weather) brought him to LA and he is excited to be part of the KFA family. Pedro is an amateur (but enthusiastic) filmmaker, an avid traveler, and he can cook one of the best mushroom risottos you will ever taste.

Li Shan graduated from the University of Southern California with an M.Arch degree. She has worked on multiple residential projects in California and Hawaii. Shan enjoys exploring new adventures and traveling has always been one of her passions. She loves to take challenges and believes the only way to understand a place is by being there. Shan has a strong desire to learn, and is now on her way to becoming an architect.

Raymond Vuong received his Bachelor of Architecture degree from California Polytechnic State University San Luis Obispo, where he gained an understanding of Building Information Modeling and the vital role it would have within the field of Architecture. His past work experience has enabled him to continue developing design execution from conception to construction observation, ranging from small to large-scale facilities. Raymond brings experience from a variety of projects that include residential, commercial, retail, automotive dealerships, tenant improvements, and high-rise buildings.

Adam Zhang was born into a family of architects and has dreamt of becoming an architect since childhood. He began his journey in architecture at the Shandong University of Architecture, and then attended the Bauhaus in Germany for further architectural studies. Adam moved to LA, a city of beautiful sunshine, beaches, and Hollywood movies, which greatly appealed to him. He graduated from UCLA’s M.Arch program where he was commended for his Hyperloop presentation. Soon after, he joined the KFA family to further pursue professional goals of becoming an architect and creating a better Los Angeles.

Tuesday, January 12 2016

KFA Announces New Partners

New Partner Jonathan Watts Joins Longtime KFA Principals John Arnold and Lise Bornstein

New Partners Photo for KFA site release

Santa Monica, CAKFA (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.

KFA is well-known for adaptive-reuse designs that have reshaped the city, including 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. At the same time, 75% of KFA’s work is new construction, including the fast-moving worlds of hospitality, residential, transit-oriented development and creative office. Killefer believes this multi-layered legacy is in good hands.

“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.”


Jonathan Watts

Watts has been practicing architecture and land-use planning for 30 years in Los Angeles. Jonathan_for web_color
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.


Lise Bornstein

Lise_for web_colorBornstein 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.


John Arnold

John_for web_colorWith 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
  • 18 schools
  • 12 recreation projects
  • 11 libraries
  • 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. HowTeam_KevinFarrell 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.

glendale siteplan-1_no labels_web


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

Panel PhotoKFA 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.