Location: Los Angeles, California
The Johnson Fain studio is located in the refurbished Basso Chrysler/Jeep Dealership Building at 1201 North Broadway overlooking the new 17-acre State Historic Park. Just south of the Broadway Bridge, the site is near the original Gaspar de Portola encampment of 1771 which marked the beginnings of the city’s history as a pueblo at a bend in the Los Angeles River. The building is within Downtown Los Angeles, on the border of Chinatown, an area which is presently undergoing a resurgence of new retail activity, high density housing projects, artists’ studios and galleries, historic loft conversions and a new Metro Gold Line station.
The one acre property combines an automobile showroom (1937), two barrel-vaulted loft industrial buildings (1924), a single family dwelling, and a large parking lot. All buildings (except the single family dwelling) have been substantially renovated with reception, offices, and common meeting space accommodated in the showroom, with the two contiguous high-bay loft buildings open to house the entire Johnson Fain architecture, planning, and interior design studios on one level. North facing clerestory lights and natural ventilation systems in all buildings have been reactivated to service the studio, its model fabrication shop, and the digital platform center which networks all workstations and coordinates plotting and 3D animation activities.
The project’s exterior design principally involves the restoration of existing building finishes with the exception of the more recent showroom façade which has been redesigned in black zinc and frameless translucent glass panels.