Photos by Asia Morris. Renderings courtesy of Shooshani Developers. From left to right: Steve Ruth, CEO of Retail Design Collaborative, Alan Pullman, Studio One Eleven Founding Principal, Lena Gonzalez, First District Councilwoman, Tony Shooshani, Managing Member of Shooshani Developers, Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia and Michael Bohn, Studio One Eleven Senior Principal.
Local architectural firms Retail Design Collaborative (formerly P+R Architects) and Studio One Eleven hosted the official unveiling and ribbon cutting for their new 34,300-square-foot office space in downtown Long Beach Wednesday afternoon.
Retail Design Collaborative and Studio One Eleven, now sister companies, moved from occupying the 20th and 21st floors of the Landmark Square building in downtown, in a major undertaking to evolve their workplace and create a space that would “catalyze neighborhood engagement and also create a sense of regeneration,” said Studio One Eleven Founding Principal Alan Pullman.
Retail Design Collaborative, a 165-person retail design firm established in Long Beach in 1979, added Studio One Eleven in 2000 as a team focused on the revitalization of cities. The studio has since expanded to offices in downtown Los Angeles, Washington, D.C. and Shanghai, China.
“It’s been a lot of change, but the one constant is that Long Beach has always been our headquarters and I’m really happy to say that after 38 years, we’re still going strong here in Long Beach,” Pullman said during his introduction.
Befitting their open-office philosophy, the design of the new space removes all but one private office, for human resources. Scattered throughout are break-out rooms, or collaborative pods, used for meetings. Wrapping the perimeter of the space is a mezzanine, creating a “bridgewalk” overlooking office activity below.
Design elements include a hospitality kitchen, open work clusters, idea lounges, flex offices, a community room, material library, showers and lockers, bicycle storage and outdoor patios.
“This move exemplifies our dedication and passion for repurposing and repositioning big box retailers,” Steve Ruth, CEO of Retail Design Collaborative, said in a statement. “Not only has this move acted as a great example of our work, it has opened up new opportunities for us to redefine how retail projects can be repositioned and provides a direct connection with our community.”
The firms designed the office to act as an “urban gallery” for the community and embraced local arts by having six different artists design and paint large-scale murals on both the interior and exterior of the building.
“We have also embraced the arts, which we think is really critical to having an active and great downtown,” Bohn said. “[The murals are] all by local artists or artists that have really made their way by doing their work in Long Beach.”
Currently, Modern Long Beach Through the Lens of Julius Shulman, is on display in the lobby and will run through April 9.
Also included in the plans is a flexible community room, allowing non-profit organizations to host events and meetings pro bono.
The new offices also include rent-free office space for the Long Beach-based nonprofit, We Are The Next (Next), on its second floor loft area, accommodating the historic preservation-focused organization’s five workers.
“Our lease was up at our old office and when I asked if we could move in here I really didn’t think they would say yes, but they did,” said Katie Rispoli, executive director of Next. “So we got that opportunity and it’s just been such a privilege.”
Recent projects from Next include a collaboration with Downtown Long Beach Alliance and City Fabrick, where three “Step Back” viewers were installed in different locations, to give pedestrians a chance to compare the current cityscape with photos from the 50s, 60s and 70s.
“They really do mean it when they say that they are working to make sure all their employees are living in a wellness environment,” she added. “Every morning I’m so excited to go to work.”
The firms have submitted for WELL Gold, and if approved, would be the first in Long Beach and the South Bay to achieve the human health and wellness building standard. It would also be one of the first 25 buildings in the country to be WELL Gold certified, said Studio One Eleven Senior Principal Michael Bohn.
“It has to do with creating a healthy environment for all of us within the building,” Bohn said during the ceremony. “And once we get our solar panels on the roof, we will be net zero.”
The adaptive-reuse project also integrated into the design natural daylight and ventilation, lighting controls for energy conservation, low water consumption and smart material selection, according to the release. The project is anticipated to be LEED Platinum certified.
“This move has spurred a redevelopment of the entire shopping center, which we will gradually repurpose the six-block area into a vibrant mixed-use district,” Bohn said in a statement. “Our design will re-integrate the center into the surrounding neighborhoods of downtown.”
The newly occupied space that was formerly a Nordstrom Rack located within the downtown retail area, known as City Place, is part of an even larger revitalization.
Tony Shooshani, managing member of Shooshani Developers, owners of the former City Place, announced during the ceremony that the area between Long Beach Boulevard and Pine Avenue, from 3rd Street to 6th Street, will soon be identified as “The Streets.”
“From today, we can start referring to the ground level of the six-block area as ‘The Streets’ and that each street will develop as micro destinations with a unique personality based on the tenant mix,” Shooshani said.
These streets will also have new tenants, as Shooshani announced new lease agreements with Burgerim, Creative Crepes, Party Monkey, Poke Cat, Romeo Chocolates, Table 301 and The Plant Junkie.
Also revealed were plans to design a parklet dining area in front of Milana’s New York Pizzeria, Mitaki Japanese Restaurant and Fresh Kabobs on 4th Street, as well as a proposed new parklet for Pine Avenue to be located in front of The Pie Bar.
Additionally, Shooshani Developers announced they will soon break ground on a 20-unit mixed-use urban development across from the former Walmart location, adding more housing to the heart of downtown, as well as additional retail spaces
Air Conditioned, a Santa Monica-based design studio, has designed the creative concepts, brand strategy and marketing campaign for “The Streets.”
Asia Morris is a Long Beach native covering arts and culture for the Long Beach Post. You can reach her on Twitter and Instagram @theasiamorris and via email at [email protected]
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