WE3 at Water's Edge

Sited on the last developable lot in the Playa Vista Specific Plan, WE31 features four stories of creative workspace in the commercially robust and rapidly developing area of Westside LA colloquially referred to as 'Silicon Beach.'

WE3 will be the third and final structure of a sprawling 6.5-acre campus currently occupied by Electronic Arts and LA Fitness, and represents our most refined take on both the practical and aesthetic possibilities of the modern workplace.

A Tech Campus for Community

Given the physical scope of the project and the design requirements needed to attract the top-level tech and creative talent the area is known for2, our main challenge was to create a plan fully integrated with existing conditions that both maximized the lot’s buildable area and maintained a compelling architectural standard. Initially asked by the client to design around the already established space and structures, our plans evolved to create a longer, more flexible office space, allowing more light and views on each elevation and creating a new public courtyard.

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In all, WE3 will be 400-feet in length with a total usable area of 160,000 square feet, laid out along the entirety of the campus’ eastern edge. This set-up emphasizes the evolving tech “campus” atmosphere and allowed us to mimic a classical collegiate environment by bracketing the three buildings around an open quadrangle. A key part of this site strategy was the relocation of an existing soccer pitch (also for public use), with a new synthetic grass field set to anchor the planned plaza, providing a visual connection between all of the site’s elements .

Design for Health

WE3 experiments with new forms to create a LEED Gold eligible creative workspace. This six-story concrete structure reduces material waste by incorporating locally sourced and recycled concrete and metal and includes large insulated windows along the perimeter to optimize natural light and reduce energy use.

The perforated metal skin wrapping the building filters daylight to provide relief from blazing western light, further reducing the need for heating and cooling. Additionally, the skin extends beyond the southern and northern edges of the structure to administer shade throughout the day. Balconies amplify the effect, acting as sunshades for each level of the building.

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Our effots to integrate daylight and reduce the electric load are implemented not only to reduce energy use but also to encourage human health and stimulation for a more productive environment. The windows provide natural air-circulation while the rooftop sky garden and exterior staircases promote outdoor interaction.

Other green design efforts include bike racks near the entrance of the building, a location near alternative transportation, low-emitting and fuel-efficient parking, occupancy sensor-driven lighting within a covered parking structure, water-conserving fixtures, and drought-tolerant landscaping.

Showing Some Skin

Our design’s most striking visual feature is also highly functional: a “floating,” perforated skin that shrouds the building’s exterior. Inspired by the play of light on water and influenced by the uneven natural geometry of Ellsworth Kelly and Agnes Martin , the skin is designed to dematerialize, visually lightening the structure’s mass while functionally providing the glass façade relief from the full brunt of the sun. Natural light is gently filtered in from all directions and proportionally spread across the entirety of the interior surface area.

An Office Perch with Ocean Views

The structure encompasses four levels of parking—two subterranean, one at grade and one above grade—and four floors of open workspace , reflecting the modern trend in office planning and culture. Each of the four units are approximately 40,000 square feet and 15 feet floor to floor, with the entirety of the concrete superstructure left exposed.

Due to zoning restrictions, the building’s top floor could not share a common border and exceed 20,000 square feet. In order to maintain the desired area requirements, a gap was introduced mid-floor and a sky garden created. Located approximately 70 feet above natural grade, the sky garden allows views towards Baldwin Hills and the Pacific Ocean, and provides tenants with a wind-shielded terrace that can be used for impromptu meetings or casual work spaces.

WE3 topped out November 2019 and is expected to finish construction May 2020.

Notes

  • 1

    WE3 is an acronym for Build­ing 3 at Water’s Edge

  • 2

    Google, Yahoo, YouTube, and IMAX are just a few of the lead­ing tech com­pa­nies oper­at­ing in the area (source).

Awards

  • Gold Nugget Award, Commercial, Merit 2017
  • Westside Urban Forum Award, Unbuilt Office, Merit 2017