Tuesday, June 30 2015

ARO 2.0: Hospitality

ARO 2.0 image_Final2 In 1999, the City of Los Angeles passed the Adaptive Reuse Ordinance providing flexibility within some portions of the planning and building codes that had made it prohibitively expensive to rehabilitate older historic buildings. KFA designed the first projects to take advantage of the ordinance in the Old Bank District, transforming the San Fernando, Hellman and Continental from dated office buildings into residential lofts. The population of DTLA increased five-fold over the next several years, and with over 40 development and rehabilitation projects, KFA has been a central player in the Downtown revival. It wasn’t until the great recession of the late 2000’s that enthusiasm for development downtown waned.

In 2011, Greenfield Partners and Ace Hotels saw a great opportunity in rehabilitating the abandoned United Artists Theater Building and former Texaco offices, commissioned by Mary Pickford, Douglas Fairbanks and Charlie Chaplin and built in 1927, into a boutique destination. Naysayers doubted the viability of a hotel south of the historic core, but since the Ace Hotel Link opened in January of 2014, its rooms, bars and restaurants have been packed, and it is credited with starting the boom that is currently happening south of 9th Street.

Identified by many as having an extreme shortage in hotel rooms, the City is now witnessing the development of previously overlooked DTLA historic buildings into hotels using some of the provisions allowed by the Adaptive Reuse Ordinance. Of KFA’s 1000+ designed boutique guest rooms in Los Angeles, over 75% of them take advantage of the ARO. Buildings that may be less viable as apartments have become opportunities for hotel developers, with accommodations ranging from luxury hotel rooms to sleeping rooms in a private club to hostel style bunk rooms.

Development of existing buildings in Downtown Los Angeles offers locations within walking distance to hundreds of entertainment, convention, and restaurant venues, faster approval timelines through LADBS, and design opportunities for a unique, daring, and innovative product that challenges the hotel norms. KFA is excited to again be on the forefront of this second wave of adaptive reuse in DTLA.

  • Sydell Group is transforming the Commercial Exchange building at 8th and Olive into Freehand LA, a 226 key hotel that caters to the young international traveler with a range of room types from standard king rooms to rooms that accommodate up to 8 bunks.
  • The Giannini Building also being developed by Sydell Group, is a long vacant centerpiece of the 7th street corridor that will become NoMad, a luxury hotel with a different design experience in each guest room.
  • On the outskirts of the Arts District, a 1920s warehouse will become the latest SoHo House, an artist-focused haven with a range of ground floor retail and members-only club amenities.

The development of these ARO projects and others to be announced in 2015 and 2016 represent a solution to the hospitality shortage in Los Angeles that is creative, innovative, and perfectly Angeleno.

Monday, June 08 2015

Dwell Conference 2015 – THE RISE: Building Downtown Los Angeles

KFA’s Tarrah Beebe, AIA, participating in an important panel discussion about the current and future building trends in Downtown Los Angeles. The discussion was presented by the Association for Women in Architecture + Design during the 2015 Dwell Conference. ‪#‎DODLA2015‬ ‪#‎DODLA‬‪#‎womenarchitects‬ ‪#‎cityliving‬. ‪#‎design‬ ‪#‎urbandevelopment‬‪#‎mixedusedevelopment‬ ‪#‎transitorienteddesign‬
‪#‎urbanplanning‬ ‪#‎designers‬ ‪#‎interiors‬ ‪#‎landscapes‬ ‪#‎architecture‬

Wednesday, May 06 2015

THE TRANSFIGURATION: Immanuel Church in Long Beach turned into affordable housing. — The Architects Newspaper



Immanuel Church in Long Beach turned into affordable housing.


Beyond the political rhetoric and the well-intentioned workshops calling for more affordable housing persist the difficult challenges of actually trying to get it built.  Earnest as its advocates may be, the shortage aggravated by an overheated private market is getting worse, particularly in Los Angeles, according to the latest academic studies.

But in the housing rank and file there are murmurs of hope that present the promise of rare paradigms. Such is the case history of the adaptive reuse of Immanuel Church into 25-units of rental housing for seniors in a leafy section of Long Beach, California.

The recently dedicated project lends a new residential life to a nondescript church originally built in 1923, damaged in an earthquake in 1933, and given a poor alteration in the 1950s. Resisting pressure to sell the all-but-abandoned church, leaders saw its potential as a focal point in the surrounding historic district of 1920s bungalows for much needed senior citizen housing and a social services center. “We had a dream, for the church building and the community,” said its stalwart former minister, Dr. Jane Galloway.

The concept also appealed to Thomas Safran, whose eponymous development company, Thomas Safran & Associates, has pursued affordable housing projects for nearly 40 years.

The rehabilitation has taken 10 years to process from concept to approvals to construction, with a projected cost of only $12 million. Persevering in partnership with Safran has been Killefer Flammang Architects. “The reuse has been a challenge,” said Wade Killefer. Nevertheless, the firm hung tough, fashioning a design that saved the sanctuary for community uses while ringing the three-story space with a variety of one-bedroom apartments.

What delayed the project for several years was a parking requirement of just 13 cars, which was eventually satisfied by the purchase of an adjoining historic house, which was then relocated to a nearby vacant lot. “To keep these projects moving you have to be flexible,” said Safran.

Sam Hall Kaplan

Monday, April 27 2015

Spring at KFA: New Projects, New People

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For New People and New Projects/ Spring has blossomed at KFA and we welcome with pleasure 9 additional staff who are helping to hatch several new and re-energized projects. Moving forward in Santa Monica is Pico Eleven, a 32-unit 4-story apartment building developed by Pico Eleven LLP, and the only housing project to be approved by the City in 2014.Also coming up in Santa Monica will be 100 units at the Denny’s site at Lincoln and Colorado. Developed by NMS, the project’s residents will enjoy 13,000 SF of neighborhood serving retail, a roof top pool and a 4 block walk to the Expo Line station.

In Playa Vista, Brookfield Residential will break ground in June on the 75-unit Seabluff Condominiums. The 92-unit Roy @ Overland in West LA is Anejo Development’s latest project, and amenities include a roof top garden, ground floor cafes and close proximity to the Expo Line. Glendale will add 489 units at 201 West Lexington, a Century West development, comprised of 4 buildings organized around a 40’ wide landscaped public paseo.

Monday, April 27 2015

Meet the KFrosh: KFA’s 2014 – 2015 Freshman Class

Our 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 them to give us a brief introduction:


Ashkan Afshari is an architect with diverse experience including educational, hospitality, residential, and mixed-use projects.  His goal is to combine sustainability, culture, and aesthetics in all his designs. Ashkan’s passion is to explore nature either on the ground by foot or in the sky via glider.

Dulce De La Paz earned a BA in Architecture from UNLV and then moved to L.A. to attend the M. Arch. Program at USC.  While working on her graduate degree, Dulce began to appreciate L.A.’s beauty and culture diversity, which attracted her to stay and explore the City further. She enjoys little pockets of nature found in urban settings that create a beautiful mixture of textures and colors.  As a new KFA team member, she looks forward to working on projects that improve L.A.’s landscape.

James Hwangbo received his Bachelor of Architecture at the Illinois Institute of Technology. As a versatile designer, James creates opportunities from constraints and reveals the extraordinary in the ordinary. During his free time, James enjoys spending time with friends and family, as well as reading books.

Natalie Park is of Korean descent, born in Brazil, and raised in the U.S. She earned her Bachelor of Architecture from the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, NY. Natalie loves nature, but enjoys living in an urban city. Traveling and climbing are a big part of her life. It keeps her honest and humbled, while constantly challenging herself. Her philosophy is to work hard, play even harder. A quote that she holds dear: “Happiness only real when shared.” – Christopher McCandless

Emmanuel Sandoval is a native Angeleno whose passion for all things L.A. continues to intensify as he pursues his commitment to inspire and create a socially sustainable city through art and architecture. Being a world traveler, foodie, art enthusiast, and a local tourist are a few things he enjoys away from the office.

Min Shuai came to the U.S. to pursue a second degree in architecture from USC about twenty years ago. Being very detail oriented, she loves the technical side of architecture, particularly putting buildings together. Currently, she is in the process of completing the construction of her own dream house in Monterey Park.

Jeffrey Tseng grew up in the Bay Area and came down to UCLA for his undergraduate in Civil Engineering. While studying structures, he developed a love for well-designed buildings and environments and pursued this passion further at Cal Poly Pomona’s M. Arch program. When away from the office, he likes to ride his bike around L.A., sketch sceneries, and struggle with his golf swing.

Yining Wang is originally from Hangzhou, China. She received her undergraduate architecture degree from Zhejiang University during which she studied in Madrid, Spain on a six-month student exchange program. Soon after graduating, Yining moved to L.A. to attend UCLA’s M. Arch program. When she is not designing buildings, she enjoys dining at nice restaurants as well as L.A.’s warm weather. One of her favorite activities is going wine tasting in Napa Valley.

Chad Yussman is KFA’s new marketing director and is excited to be a part of such a special firm with so many talented individuals.  Originally from Louisville, KY, he earned his BSBA in International Business from Wash U in St. Louis and received an MBA in Marketing from LMU.  Chad’s marketing journey has taken him from international film and art festivals in England and Los Angeles to high-end video production in Hollywood.  He is a performing bassoonist, an avid Louisville Cardinals fan, and loves playing on the beach with his kids.

Thursday, April 16 2015

Restoration Drama: The Challenges and Rewards of Historic Renovation – Form Magazine


The complexities of reimagining older buildings into new spaces become even more layered with designated historic structures. Architects must coordinate not just with clients, consultants, and artisans, but public agencies empowered to protect a classic building’s character. Killefer Flammang Architects (KFA) has performed this role in multiple Los Angeles historic and cultural monuments, including the Ace Hotel (the former United Artists office tower), The Roosevelt and the Pacific Electric Building

The just-completed renovation of the 1923 Taft Building in Hollywood (once occupied by Charlie Chaplin, Will Rogers and Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences) is the latest example: It combined navigating approvals with finding moments of architectural inspiration. KFA Project Manager Tarrah Beebe describes them.

What was the building and the assignment?

The Taft renovation repositioned a beautiful, 12-story, neo-Renaissance landmark into creative space for building owner Clarett West Development. It required a careful integration of modern uses – open floor plans, modern HVAC systems – with a building listed as a Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monument.

How did you interface with city agencies?

There was a tremendous amount of coordination with the Los Angeles Department of Building and Safety and the Office of Historic Preservation to make this project a reality. We were protecting the historic character while upgrading essential fire/life/safety systems, and the entire process involved collaboration among the design team, owner, and city agencies. Frequent meetings ensured that historic building configurations were transformed to accommodate contemporary demands. The central open stair, for example, has a lot of historic fabric.  We maintained the beautifully detailed stone and decorative metal, but within the context of fire and life safety requirements.  Now, this central stair provides an active transition from floor to floor. It is integral to the experience of the place.

What were some sources of inspiration?

We had the good fortune of discovering the original architectural and structural drawings, and their beauty captures the grandeur of the Taft, telling the building’s story. They were not only a source of inspiration for the renovation design, they were helpful in understanding the original design. It is fascinating to uncover the historic fabric shown in the drawings that had been covered over the years by modern – and in most cases unfortunate – materials.

Along Vine Street, for example, we referenced the historic drawings and cast molds of the existing historic fabric in order to recreate the historic storefronts. We were able to replace lost or damaged terra cotta tile in order to bring the façade back to its original design.

What are some of the other conflicts that need resolution?

Today’s market demand for creative offices makes a building such as the Taft very popular. The materials and craftsmanship are inspiring to this kind of tenant, who is often rejecting a “corporate,” Class A building. The irony is that in the 1920s The Taft was a very formal office environment. Our challenge is to reflect contemporary, creative office culture of open, collaborative spaces and raw materials, while preserving the irreplaceable character created almost a century ago.


Photography by Jim Simmons

Thursday, April 09 2015

New Pershing Apartments Video

Tuesday, April 07 2015

Company’s Commitment to Affordable Housing Recognized – Park LaBrea News

KFA partners Barbara Flammang and Wade Killefer. (photo by Chad Yussman/KFA)

Killefer Flammang Architects (KFA) received the John Chase Creative Community Award at the recent West Hollywood Community Housing Corporation (WHCHC) Gala.

KFA was recognized for dedicating “so much of their time and energy to creating affordable homes for hundreds of people who struggle not only with inadequate income, but with multiple health issue and disabilities,” said WHCHC Chair Ramon Mendez, Jr. and WHCHC executive director Robin Conerly.

KFA designed five of WHCHC’s 14 affordable housing communities, starting with Palm View in 1998, Havenhurst in 2004, Detroit Senior and Detroit Family in 2001 and Hayworth House in 2013. KFA has designed over 3,000 units of affordable housing in Los Angeles County.

The John Chase Creative Community Award is dedicated to the late urban designer for the city of West Hollywood.

John Chase oversaw the design of hundreds of projects, big and small, playing a significant role in West Hollywood’s redevelopment. WHCHC held its 4th Annual Gala Celebration “A Night To Remember” at the London Hotel West Hollywood.Killefer Flammang Architects is a full-service, award-winning architecture firm based in Santa Monica.

KFA’s design expertise includes multi-family/mixed-use housing, affordable housing, adaptive reuse, senior and special-needs housing.

For information, visit http://www.kfalosangeles.com.

Wednesday, April 01 2015

Announcement of New Principals at Killefer Flammang Architects

KFA is pleased to announce the promotion of John Arnold, AIA, Lise Bornstein, AIA,
and Shu-Chi Hsu, AIA, LEED AP to principal.

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With degrees in architecture and landscape design, John joined the KFA team in 1999 and has enjoyed the opportunity of being involved in both LA’s and KFA’s continuing growth and evolution. He has a deep interest in making existing cities better places to live at both the individual level and public level by designing good units and setting them in a lively, diverse urban place.

John’s tenure at KFA has focused on the full range of multi-family housing types including adaptive reuse projects, hotels, affordable family and senior housing, and market-rate condominiums and apartments. He enjoys working with developers and communities throughout the design process to find the project that best fits on each site and meets client goals.

John is an active volunteer in his South LA neighborhood, helping out with planning and preservation issues, and is an advocate of native plants. John has also made a habit building houses with Habitat for Humanity in Southeast Asia.

Notable Projects: Ace Hotel, Pacific Electric Lofts, the Roosevelt Building, Luxe @ Broadway, the Hesby Apartments, and NoHo Senior Villas


Lise joined KFA in 2001 and has incorporated her love of art and design into her work. Working on a wide range of projects including market rate and affordable housing, mixed-use, and master planning projects, she continues to develop her interest in Los Angeles and participates in the considered densification of such a large and complex city.

Focused on creating projects with a big design idea, Lise has managed projects with complex entitlement packages, multiple funding sources and significant community outreach while working collaboratively with clients, consultants, contractors and in-house teams. The ever-evolving LA cityscape is reimagining itself yet again amidst a new era of transformation in the way people live and work. This growth will lead KFA to new and exciting projects with creative partners and offer new opportunities in urban infill development and design.

Lise is a board member of the Association for Women in Architecture Foundation (AWAF), where she chairs the Scholarship Committee.

Notable Projects: MGA Campus Master Plan, Hayworth House, FCD Silverlake projects, Frogtown Lofts, NMS @ La Cienega, and Luxe @ 1539


Originally from Taiwan, Shu-Chi studied architecture in Bauhaus, Germany, and lived in Italy before settling down in Los Angeles. In 2006, she joined the KFA team and has become an expert in discovering the best and optimal land use of any project site.  Shu-Chi enjoys working with her team on
complex projects and challenging deadlines, and believes building design should be honest, functional, and timeless.

Outside of the office, Shu-chi works with engineers and artists to create large-scale public works of art for underserved communities both in Los Angeles and in Taiwan. The bamboo bridge her team built won an AIA Los Angeles Design Honor Award, one of the first non-building prize winners.

Deeply interested in business, she is currently an EMBA student at UCLA where her concentrations are in finance and global management.

Notable Projects: 6th and Virgil, 201 Lexington, 7500 Sunset East & West, Pico Eleven, Washington Penny Lane, NMS @ Lincoln and Luxe @ Broadway

Monday, March 23 2015

WHCHC Gala Award Video – KFA Recipients of the John Chase Creative Award