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News

LA Style: Inside Design and Out

Kenton Hanson

Source :: Tim Street-Porter
Date :: 2005

In the Environmental wasteland of recent construction that is the Hollywood of today, with its host of redundant corner malls and wall-to-wall condominiums on what were once quiet, airy residential streets, any new development of architectural interest is unexpected and welcome. 

The 828 North Hudson Avenue condominiums successfully revive the spirit of Hollywood buildings of the 1920s, particularly the fantasy courtyard apartments that represent the best attitudes of a city whose destiny and purpose were tellingly expressed in a legacy of innovative architecture.

These condos have also been successful in other ways: The developer Sonny Astani of Astani Enterprises, was able to sell all 25 units in a single afternoon session, and the new owners are a happy group of enthusiasts with nothing but praise for the project. 

The complex was designed by architectural consultant Simon Miller, who met Astani a few years ago. Astani had already built seven condominium buildings in the vicinity of Hollywood and had become disenchanted with the results.

"I never liked those buildings," says Astani. "Simon was very critical about them also and had a good understanding of people and the environment, things I hadn't though about much."  Plans had already been produced for the Hudson Avenue project, but Astani, concerned that in an increasingly saturated market his project might not sell, hired Miller to redesign the complex.

Miller opted for cosmetic changes. The old condo formula of putting all the money into limited areas such as marble counters, French tiles and expensive paint finishes was discarded. Instead, the whole complex was designed to seduce with playful thematic effects.

From the street, the building rises fortresslike, fringed by tropical landscaping, and is surmounted by a Casbah-inspired tower. A fountain, placed next to the entrance, screens out peripheral traffic noise. The tiled courtyard, reached by a flight of steps and an ornamental iron gateway, creates an other-worldly ambiance, which is heightened by warm colors, decorative tile work and suggestions of an Moroccan village. Inside, there are high-beamed ceilings, attractive windows of stained wood, and arches for door openings.

The result is an environment with a well defined theme, inspiring pride of possession similar to that felt by those fortunate enough to own 1920s landmark Hollywood apartments, and demonstrating what can be done with imagination and a developer who cares.