Cityscape for the future

Firm's move to Century City reflects an industry power shift

Once conceived as a utopian city-within-a-city with open public spaces, broad pedestrian boulevards and the best entertainment, dining and shopping in town, Century City — once the home of the Shubert Theater, the Playboy Club and Harry’s Bar — appeared to be going the way of L.A.’s downtown: a ghost of its former self.

That appears to be changing. In April, Barnes Morris will move from Santa Monica into a new space at 2000 Avenue of the Stars, a glinting glass structure on the former site of ABC Entertainment. CAA will occupy nine floors of the same building come January, while ICM is moving in one block away.

There are also three residential high-rises in the works, one of which is thought to be a Phillipe Starck project, and Patina’s Joachim Splichal is planning to open several restaurants.

“For the first time,” says architect Stanley Felderman, who is designing Barnes Morris’ 26,000-square-foot office with his wife and partner Nancy Keating, “Century City is going to live up to its name.”

Felderman-Keating specializes in “branded architecture” spaces that reflect the uniqueness of their clients, who include MTV and Universal Music.

“We liked these guys because they seemed to think a little bit more outside the box,” says Barnes Morris partner Kevin Yorn, who is actively involved in the design process. “The law firms (they designed) didn’t look like the typical law firm.”

The architects have come up with a plan that maximizes open space. “View corridors” along the perimeter offer uninterrupted sight lines from one end of the space to the other, and there will be cove lighting around the private offices rather than the typical fluorescent lights.

Felderman notes that reflected light is easier on the eyes, and also more energy efficient. The design will emphasize light and shadow, dark woods playing off natural fiber carpets and resins, for example, rather than color.

Specialists in Asian principles, the architects have designed no two offices exactly alike, providing for “equality in inequality.”

Felderman-Keating is not only the architectural team on this project, it’s part of the shift in Century City, having moved its own offices from Santa Monica as well.

To their slight surprise, the pair found that they love it. “L.A. doesn’t know how to be urban,” says Felderman, a native New Yorker, “and I feel like I’m in a city. And this is just the beginning.”

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