Creative Environments of Hollywood

Posted on 09. Feb, 2009 by Administrator in Lifestyle

by Jason Dean

When Jerry Schneiderman surveys the urban landscape of Los Angeles, he sees it contracting. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. There’s never been a shortage of grousing over the time Angelinos spend driving from home to work and back again. Scientific studies have been conducted to measure how many life-years are lost in the concrete cattle crawl—be it on freeways, surface streets, or a combination of both.

“Over the next ten to twenty years, L.A. is going to look more like Tokyo,” predicts Schneiderman, whose company Creative Environments of Hollywood (CEH) specializes in converting existing buildings to fit modern usage demands. The idea of hybrid live/work spaces is not new – it’s just been updated for the times. In other parts of the world, where available space is more finite, survival in an urban environment has depended on such duality.

Schneiderman’s company has taken existing buildings, some nearly a century old, and turned them into hip enclaves tailored for the young, creative professional. “People want the freedom to set the hours they work,” says Schneiderman. But they also prefer an interactive and collaborative setting where they can bounce ideas off one another. We keep the space as flexible as possible. The more we build in, the less they like it. There is no cottage cheese ceiling, no built-in closets. We keep it as open as possible; tenants create their own spaces.”

One such site, Cosmo Lofts, located in the heart of revitalized Hollywood, was a furniture warehouse in a previous life. The new design celebrates the building’s functional past by highlighting the original concrete floors, high ceilings, and fluted columns. Narrow spiral staircases wrap around steel support beams, leading to open lofts. A windowed wall welcomes all the natural light the sky has to offer, and there’s a clear view of the beckoning Hollywood Hills.

The CEH offices are located at Lacy Studio Lofts in Lincoln Heights, one of L.A. County’s oldest districts. Vice-Chairman Howard Sadowsky gives me a guided tour of the compound. The main building, he reveals, previously housed a strip club. As I skillfully sidestep the ghosts of pole dancers past, Sadowsky takes me to the construction arm of the operation, where CEH makes its own steel. This allows the company to reap the added benefit of using a stronger, more durable material at a much lower cost: about the same price as using wood. “A lot of companies outsource, but we decided to do it in-house,” he explains with palpable pride.

The target demographic for these units, Sadowsky says, is young, creative types who are drawn to the city for its stimulating mix of variety and convenience. “They’re buying a community environment, where they can share ideas, business to business,” he says. And don’t expect to find an on-site gym anywhere. “What we do is very much a reflection of what our tenants want.” Classical and neo-classical architecture and buildings with a colorful history trump the tricked-out modern amenities.

Another CEH property, Westmoreland Lofts, is situated about halfway between Hollywood and Downtown. The building’s industrial character pays tribute to its past as a fabric dyeing factory and warehouse. Original factory windows and skylights deliver sweeping city views and generous natural light.

Schneiderman tells me L.A.’s Adaptive Reuse Ordinance has been a major reason CEH has been able to update close to 1 million square feet of real estate. The ordinance does not require adding disabled access features as a contingent to remodeling. Adding an elevator and still preserving the architectural integrity of some buildings, he says, is just not feasible.

The beauty of providing floor plans that are open rather than compartmentalized is that tenants are free to make the space their own. “One tenant built his entire loft with a floor of Plexiglas,” Schneiderman says. To maximize the work aspect of the space, renters will adapt their living quarters to suit their needs. “[Another] built an entire rolling bedroom that was suspended from the ceiling and could roll from one side to the other, complete with dividers.” A third unit has been customized with a bed that can be lowered electronically from the ceiling.

“Living at the office” used to describe people who sacrificed their personal lives in a futile attempt to catch up to an insurmountable work load. Today, it implies the savvy metropolitan chic of those who work smart and integrate high productivity into their daily lives. “The economy—and our way of life—is changing,” Schneiderman assures me. “Eliminating long commutes and minimizing our dependence on the volatile fuel market is essential if we want to compete with the rest of the world.” 

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One Response to “Creative Environments of Hollywood”

  1. Los Angeles lofts

    17. Jan, 2010

    Thanks for the great article. CEH is a great company with unique properties.

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