The Platform Design District

 Los Angeles, USA

Abandoned and blighted, a shuttered used-car dealership sat dormant on a forgotten semi-industrial parcel adjacent to Culver City’s edgy Hayden Tract. The site’s colorful history dates back even further,
to the 1900s when it served as a major railroad station and freight yard. Rather than turn its back on the past, the design and retail hub celebrates the city precinct’s recent past in all its sometimes gritty charm.

Project overview ©️2021 Abramson Architects
Project overview ©️2021 Abramson Architects

Sparking a Revival.

Once considered an “unpolished gem” by the development team and architects, the reimagined site is now a convergence of fashion, art, and culinary talent. The Platform complex spans six buildings and features a central courtyard along with other garden nooks interspersed throughout. Its one-of-a-kind architectural setting is a resurrection of prior operations, celebrating its uniqueness through various architectural diversities while holding true to a definitive overall vision.

Project overview ©️2021 Abramson Architects
Project overview ©️2021 Abramson Architects

Who are the clients and what’s interesting about them?

Runyon is a culturally curious real estate group based in Los Angeles, with projects across the globe. Driven by a passion for bringing people together to experience the best in food, design, fashion, and culture, Runyon owns and manages properties, develops retail and restaurant concepts, and advises some of the most dynamic, independent brands today. The Platform was their first ownership venture.

Facade ©️2021 Abramson Architects
Facade ©️2021 Abramson Architects

Before reaching out to their first batch of Platform tenants they created a wish list of 100 potential brands that would attract them personally. Using hand-written invitation letters to explain their vision was an unconventional move, but it worked for them.

What was the brief?

The project site selected by the Runyon Group was an abandoned car dealership on 4 acres of land in an abandoned and blighted area of Culver City. Situated in between the Helms Bakery District, Downtown Culver City, and the new metro line station, this area had fallen behind and was in need of life. The client wanted to create a destination where they personally would want to spend time.

What are the Retail/Dining Components?

Juxtaposing New with Repurposed.

The Boxcar – In the early 1900s, the site served as a railroad station frequented by freight trains. After its closing, the lot became a junkyard littered with abandoned boxcars. Inspired by this piece of history, the designers envisioned the Boxcar building as an homage to the stacked and scattered freight cars. The iconic Boxcar building welcomes guests, tenants, and community members to this dynamic new neighborhood.

Boxcar ©️2021 Abramson Architects
Boxcar ©️2021 Abramson Architects
The designers envisioned the Boxcar building as an homage to the stacked and scattered freight cars ©️2021 Abramson Architects
The designers envisioned the Boxcar building as an homage to the stacked and scattered freight cars ©️2021 Abramson Architects

Two of the complex’s signature restaurants are housed within its ground floor while three creative lofts, above, are now home to leaders in entertainment, media, health, and fashion.

Washington Arts – Existing street art, which adorned the vacant site, inspired the bold graffiti art style of the Washington Arts building. The mural-clad structure houses an upscale restaurant, artist lofts, and parking. The artwork breaks up the parking facility’s massing while providing a place-specific focal point.

Washington Arts ©️2021 Abramson Architects
Washington Arts ©️2021 Abramson Architects

Landmark Repair Shop – Designer shops and renowned chefs are tucked thoughtfully behind the Boxcar building in the more human-scaled Landmark Repair Shop. Recalling the structure’s past life, the last vestiges of repurposed automotive bays are juxtaposed with modern appointments, introducing glass storefronts where roll-up garage doors once existed.

The Bunker – An existing building, previously utilized as parking and storage for the defunct car dealership, is reintroduced to accommodate retail and additional parking. The new single-story steel storefront structure creates architectural cohesiveness between the Bunker and its neighboring buildings.

The Greenhouse – Traveling back towards the highly-trafficked street frontage, the elevated Greenhouse guides visitors into a grander community-scale. Explorations into the abandoned freight train lot provoked the design team who studied reference images of industrial remnants covered by the unbridled growth of wild grasses and flowers. Since opening, the Greenhouse has attracted one of the city’s most popular new rooftop restaurants.

Rooftop restaurant ©️2021 Abramson Architects
Rooftop restaurant ©️2021 Abramson Architects

The Showroom – The sixth and final space that defines the Platform is the Showroom. Repurposing the existing automotive showroom into an ideal storefront ultimately attracted an “eco-chic” clothing line to the location. The original car dealer sign pole and frame are incorporated into the design.

How have they responded to the Pandemic?

The Platform was the first GTHR SAFE property in Los Angeles, implementing a best-in-class safety standards across the entire office/retail/dining facility. Bjorn Schrader (a Partner with Abramson Architects) is a founding member of the organization and is working with Runyon Group to implement this new class of certification.

What were the solutions?

Charred wood, poured concrete, pebbled siding, corrugated metal, and rusted steel make up much of the material palate. These materials were chosen to coordinate with the design narrative and for their relatively low maintenance and cost-efficiency.

The use of art as a material is prevalent throughout the complex. The original project site had been abandoned for some time, and it served as a canvas for beautiful street art on its exterior walls. The designers wanted to commemorate this with a mural on the parking structure. This also aides the design by breaking up the massing of the parking structure and serves as a focal point from inside the complex towards the parking. The commissioned mural is by popular artist Jen Stark.

Facade ©️2021 Abramson Architects
Facade ©️2021 Abramson Architects

Project drawings

Concept ©️2016 Abramson Architects
Concept ©️2016 Abramson Architects
Site plan ©️2016 Abramson Architects
Site plan ©️2016 Abramson Architects
Facade ©️2016 Abramson Architects
Facade ©️2016 Abramson Architects

Project information

Project size220000 ft2
Completion date2016
Building levels3
Project team Abramson Architects

Editing & Translation: chuichui ©️FULLDES authorized publishing, copyright from the Author, Image copyright from the photographer or Company

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