Architects buy a mini-mall, open a new studio and flagship retail store

February 01, 2008 |

When Rios Clementi Hale Studios was looking for larger office space, the enterprising architecture firm, which also designs and sells a line of hip housewares called notNeutral, found the perfect space in an old 17,000-sf Los Angeles mini-mall.

The firm's studio space occupies 12,000 sf on two levels, while 1,000 sf of ground-floor retail space serves as the flagship store selling the notNeutral products, which include furniture, tableware, vases, pillows, and other accessories. The product's wholesale operations division is also located onsite. Additional retail space is being leased to a salon, café, and other businesses that fit the upscale lifestyle and design-oriented focus of the office cum mall, which is located close to trendy Melrose Avenue.

The existing mini-mall, a mish-mash of styles ranging from Art Deco to Spanish Revival, was completely overhauled and streamlined. Its stucco façade and mansard roof were replaced with alternating panels of glass and metal; metal panels are water-jet cut with abstract patterns. An upper-level balcony walkway was added during the renovation.

The firm designed the mixed-use project with LEED in mind and is seeking certification for the building, which opened in January.

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