Roof space sets pace

Org constructs temporary village on adjacent parking structure

When AFI Fest organizers learned in March that their former digs at the ArcLight theater in Hollywood had been leased, they concluded there was nowhere to go but up.

Up on the roof, that is. On the open-air seventh level of the adjacent parking structure, the org has constructed a temporary village encompassing some 20,000 square feet dedicated to parties, ticketing, special events and more.

The new digs have an alluring upside — the dazzling night-time views that stretch in all directions from the central Hollywood location of the parking tower.

“The views are quintessential Hollywood. You can see the hills, the Hollywood sign — on a clear day you see downtown in the distance. It can be pretty amazing, especially at sunset. We are enthused about that,” says Natalie McMenemy, director of operations for the AFI Fest.

There was a downside — the challenge of transporting construction materials and everything else the operation requires to the top level of a structure navigable only by circling each floor. Midway through, McMenemy reports that solutions have been found. “Basically, we’re flat-bedding a lot of it up,” she says. “We have not had to resort to cranes.”

Constructed by Epiphany USA and its principal, Beau Robb, the village includes a box office and production HQ, a cinema lounge and green room for VIPs, a special-event pavilion for parties, two kitchens for catering and even a set of “comfort stations” (upscale privies).

Organizers promise the rooftop facilities will be outfitted with all the high-tech amenities festgoers have come to expect, such as Internet access and plasma TVs in the lounge.

“We were inspired by the international pavilion at the Cannes festival,” says Christian Gaines, AFI Fest exec director.

The tents are constructed with rigid walls and a subfloor that protects against water damage, as November in L.A. tends to be rainy. “This will not feel like being in a tent,” says McMenemy. ” ‘Tent’ is a four-letter word to us.”

South-facing walls will be clear, promoting the view over central Hollywood, and outside patios will encourage revelers to take in the twinkling lights. “The views are key to the design,” says McMenemy. “If you’re not going to use them, why go up on the roof?”

Well, mainly because the vacant commercial space that formerly housed the operations of the AFI Fest has been leased to new tenants.

“Necessity is the mother of invention,” allows Gaines.

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