FRANK O. GEHRY & ASSOCIATES
Chiat/Day Building 1991
Main Street, Venice
The Chiat/Day Office Building is located on Main Street in Venice, four blocks from the Pacific Ocean. The area is evolving from a funky beach town into a more urbane contemporary community. The L-shaped site is within the California Coastal Commision's jurisdiction and the project went through an extensive review process. The building reflects the dense but low-scale development that the Coastal Commision envisions for this beach community.
The 75,000 square foot, three-story office space was designed specifically for the use of Chiat/Day advertising agency as its West Coast Corporate Headquarters. The building sits atop three levels of underground parking for three hundred cars. The Main Street facade is expressed as three distinct elements which relate in scale and level of detail to the surrounding neighborhood. The entry to the parking structure is through the centrally placed binoculars, conceived and created in collaboration with Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen. The binoculars contain space for private conferencing and research and are tied into the main client conference room. Each cylinder is topped by one skylight oculus.
On one side of the binoculars is a curved screen wall which provides shade from the western sun and is shaped to relate to the marine imagery. On the other side of the binoculars is a sculptural expression of columns in an almost forest-like density. The columns are clad in copper and also create a sun screen. Because of the configuration of the site, as well as the height constraints imposed by the coastal commision and the density required by the client, the building sits on the property lines on all sides. On the third level of the south facade, a very long skylight extends down through the building to the first floor. Additionally, there are lightwells that bring light down to the first and second floors around the building. At the fork of the "L" is the core of the building, adjacent to which is a large, two-story skylighted meeting room.
The Coastal Commision's height limit of thirty feet meant that the building floor-to-floor heights had to be kept to ten feet. This imposed a structural solution of flat plate concrete framing and required a great deal of coordination between mechanical and electrical trades. This tight ceiling space is mitigated by exposing the structure to the underside of the concrete deck in many places as well as by the placement of the lightwells and more open vertical spaces. Simple built-in workstations are designed in plywood.
The project was delayed for over two years because hazardous waste was discovered on the site.