BIG opens Los Angeles office in renovated 1920s building
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BIG opens Los Angeles office in renovated 1920s building

Danish architecture studio BIG has opened an office in Santa Monica in a renovated 1928 Spanish revival building designed by iconic Los Angeles architect Paul R Williams.

The 1928 building was refurbished by the team, many of whom will be joining the freshly minted BIG Los Angeles team – recruited both from the New York office and from the local “talent pool”.

Santa Monica restored Spanish revival home
BIG has opened an office in a 1928 Paul R Williams building in Santa Monica

BIG, the architecture studio established by Danish architect Bjarke Ingels, will be anchored in the Californian city by partner Leon Rost.

For the renovation, the studio kept many of the original Spanish revival details of the original structure including the expressive reliefs on the facade.

BIG office California
Some of the plaster detailing was kept, but the office largely has an unfinished look

Some of the interior plasterwork was maintained as well. The primary second-floor workspace was opened up, and much of the walls were peeled back to reveal the wooden structure and enhanced mechanical system.

Unfinished concrete columns are located in the middle of the space, with thick wooden rafters intersected by skylights.

The office layout is open, with large spanning desks and folded Roulade chairs by KiBiSi, which Ingels is also a partner of.

BIG office California
The office will help expand the studio’s West Coast presence

According to Rost, the studio plans to continue to update the space with samples of technology such as solar panels from the studio’s local projects, many of which are in late states. These projects include Claremont McKenna College Robert Day Sciences Center.

“We’ve also designed an interior layout that preserves the original interior plasterwork from 1928 and intentionally chose a location that is close to public transport,” Rost told Dezeen.

“As a Japanese Californian I am excited to root BIG on the Pacific Coast. In the city of storytelling, big dreams and a pioneer spirit, I am certain LA will be a fertile frontier for continued experimentation. You could say BIG – though born in Copenhagen – has always been an Angeleno at heart.”

The office is the studio’s second in the United States, after its New York office opened in 2010.

The studio has a significant presence on the West Coast, and is currently in the process of completing a large mix-used development on an industrial site in Downtown Los Angeles and is working with British studio Heatherwick on a Google headquarters in the San Francisco Bay area.

Big Studio Santa Monica
The studio will be under the direction of partner Leon Rost

BIG New York partner Kai-Uwe Bergmann told Dezeen that the move has come from the “considerable” amount of West Coast work the studio has had since opening in the United States.

“Having also once called Los Angeles home – I attended UCLA in the 1990s – I am super excited to bring ‘Scand-American’ thinking to our future work within the Pacific Rim region,” said Bergmann.

Other significant projects on the West Coast by BIG include the impressively massed Vancouver House skyscraper in Vancouver, Canada.

The photography is by Pooya AleDavood.