Cherokee Lofts Breaks Ground‏, Pugh+Scarpa Architects


Few months ago, I got the chance to interview the architect Lawrence Scarpa, principal of Pugh+Scarpa, on the impact of sustainable design on the figure and integration of his own house, the Solar Umbrella, in Venice. Inspired by Paul Rudolph’s Umbrella House of 1953, the Solar Umbrella provides a contemporary reinvention of the solar canopy—a strategy that provides thermal protection in climates with intense exposures—using photovoltaic panels to provide 100% of the home’s energy needs.

Today, with the Cherokee Lofts, Pugh+Scarpa pushes “Green” edge design to a superior level and breaks ground with another green mixed-use housing project. For these architects, sustainability is always considered a top priority, with the goal of building responsible living for the 21st century. The architect, Pugh+Scarpa, is a leader and pioneer in green building, an unprecedented two time winner of AIA Top 10 Green Building Award plus 100 other awards and accolades.

The building is located at 751 N. Fairfax just north of Melrose right around the corner from the increasingly popular and hip Melrose Heights Fashion District which includes Fred Segal, Adidas, and Mark Jacobs among others. It also borders West Hollywood, is ¾ mile from the center of the Sunset Strip, ¾ mile from The Grove shopping mall, a mile away from the Beverly Center, and 3 blocks away from Whole Foods and Starbucks.

Cherokee Lofts will be the most advanced and distinctive building of its kind in Los Angeles. It will be the first “green” LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Gold Certified building in Hollywood per the U.S. Green Building Council certification system and it will be the first LEED Gold Certified mixed-use or market rate multifamily building in Southern California.

The development will pay homage to the significant musical and Hollywood history of Cherokee Recording Studios, MGM Studios before it, and all the artists who recorded music on the site from Frank Sinatra to David Bowie to Dave Mathews. Its unique architectural form and integrated function create a high performing building that is an expression of the environmental and cultural context in which it is built. Simply put, Cherokee Lofts will represent the premiere in green design, form, and function in the epicenter of the entertainment capital of the world. The project is the 2007 Westside Urban Forum Westside Prize Winner.

Cherokee Lofts will consist of 12 condominium lofts and 2800 square feet of retail space. The building will be 5 stories including 1 underground level of parking, first floor retail and parking, 3 floors of lofts on floors 2 through 4 and a rooftop deck and green roof.







The lofts will range in size from 1,000 square feet to 2,000 square feet with unique and distinctive floor plans. 7 of the lofts will be two story town homes perched 30 to 50 feet above street level. The living space consisting of a state of the art kitchen, great room, bathroom, and home recording studio or office will be on the 4th floor 38 feet above street level to maximize city skyline views, daylight, and energy efficiency. 3 of the lofts will have 17-foot high ceilings with mezzanines and open to a lushly landscaped courtyard. Finally two loft flats will have 10-foot high ceilings also opening to the landscaped courtyard. All lofts will have 2 to 3 bathrooms and 1 to 4 bedrooms. Interiors including kitchens, baths, and finishes will all be ‘eco-luxury’ with high end appointments that have simple and modern lines while being environmentally friendly.



Where Form Meets Function In a Green and Historic Way

This building was conceptualized, designed, and will be built with the paramount goal of blending a highly designed, sustainable building while preserving the rich history of the site. Through every step of the integrated design process the Team debated how the building’s look and materials would affect its function, livability, and position in the community. The result will be a visually captivating building with a special story to tell in how it performs, what it was, and what it will be to the point that no other building can claim. A few of the key green and historical features of this unique building are described below.


• 40% more energy efficient than California’s very strict energy code for newly constructed buildings and more than 100% efficient than buildings built just 10 years ago saving owners real money while reducing greenhouse gases.
• Architectural Dynamic Double Façade which is owner controlled creates a eye-catching and fluid external view while providing shading to cool the building, reducing noise, enhancing privacy, and still allowing for spectacular views, great natural light and ventilation from ocean breezes which pass through its millions of perforations even when all panels are closed.
• Advanced Cooling and Heating Comfort System which is being used in Canada’s new 2010 Olympic Village cools and warms floors, ceilings, and walls to create a perfectly temperate environment better for respiratory systems, skin, and overall health and comfort.
• Green Building Orientation with the central courtyard between the two residential structures allows for daylighting on both sides of every unit while allowing prevailing breezes to fully pass through the units for natural ventilation.
• Green Roof provides greenery for occupants to enjoy while keeping the building better insulated, cleaning the air, and reducing storm water run off.
• Water Conservation will be accomplished with dual flush toilets, efficient fixtures, hot water circulators, and drought tolerate landscaping.
• Solar Power will power all common area electrical loads and a percentage of the heating and hot water needs for the building reducing energy needs and HOA fees.
• Green Location is achieved by proximity to a Metro Rapid Bus and walkability to coffee, organic grocery, restaurants, great shopping, and major entertainment centers.
• Green Materials and Products used extensively throughout such as cellulose insulation, FSC Certified wood, and aluminum to name a few are recycled, renewable, and contain no VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds).

All of these green features help to reduce the impact on the environment while providing a less expensive building to operate and maintain and ultimately a healthier and better place to live.

Cherokee Studios, the site’s former owner and occupant operated one of the most significant musical Hollywood recording studios with over 300 Platinum and Gold albums recorded by artists such as David Bowie, Elton John, Frank Sinatra, and Elvis. The new development respects and will pay homage to this past by subtly weaving historic elements into the building.

• Dynamic Façade. The first most dramatic feature emulates the past creativity that took place at the site by always changing and moving much like the music created in the studio.
• Studio One’s Black Forest Wood. Many materials from the existing recording studio will be reused throughout the new building including the dark wood paneling from Germany’s Black Forest that completed Frank Sinatra’s Studio One.
• Home Recording Studios. A few of the units will include home recording studios designed masterfully by Cherokee Studio’s founders.
• History. Studio memorabilia, history, and stories will creatively and tastefully be featured and documented throughout building and in the building owners and operation manual.
• Cherokee Studio’s Green Future. Lastly, Cherokee Studios is going green just like Cherokee Lofts with a green record label, a new larger green recording studio to be built with REthink, and a eco-rock tour called Rock Your Planet.

The close attention to how form and function, green building, and history all affect each other creates a one-of-a-kind building superior in design, construction quality, and energy efficiency. It will be less expensive to operate, healthier for its residents, and less impactful to the environment. For these reasons Cherokee Lofts is at the forefront of what intelligent buildings should be.


~ by Open Form Architecture on December 14, 2007.

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