At Large  June 28, 2019  Jordan Riefe

A New Home for L.A. Creatives

Courtesy Second Home

Architectural rendering of Second Home Hollywood

When the London-based workspace company Second Home was ready to leap across the pond to the U.S., they first set their sights on San Francisco, a move co-founder Sam Aldenton found obligatory at the behest of financial backers. But a family relation who studied architecture at SCI-Arc in Los Angeles convinced him to establish Second Home’s U.S. beachhead in L.A.

“To quote Gretzky, skate to where the puck’s going to be, and the puck is heading to L.A.” says Aldenton who, with partner Rohan Silva, a former adviser to UK PM David Cameron, founded Second Home in London four years ago. For him, the choice of L.A. over San Francisco was a no-brainer. “It’s a big economy, second largest in the U.S., 20 million people, and the predominant industry is creative.”

The operative word is “creative,” an adjective Second Home takes to heart. Among the 30 percent of the 65,000 square-foot space already leased, companies include For Your Art (curator Bettina Korek and the Frieze team), All3Media, a British film and TV production company, filmmaker Jonathan Craven (Wes’ son), Red Scout, a design agency, Good, a social impact organization, and many others. 

Courtesy Second Home

Architectural rendering of Second Home Hollywood

“We’re really trying to choose people from the broadest range as possible. You can be a really creative auditor. When a scriptwriter is around someone developing micro-cameras and campaigning for human rights in Syria, then really interesting stuff happens,” notes Aldenton, who emphasizes putting established entities alongside startups. For companies and individuals monthly fees start at $250, which provides access to collaborative workspaces. Companies can pay $675 or more per person for access to private studio space.

Anchoring the campus is the newly-restored 1964 building by iconic L.A. architect Paul Revere Williams, who built homes for stars like Lucille Ball, Barbara Stanwyck and Lon Chaney, as well as the Ambassador Hotel, famous for the Coconut Grove and the site of RFK’s assassination. 

A late career Colonial Revival-style structure, Williams’ building was originally the headquarters for the Assistance League of Southern California, dedicated to solving community problems at the local level. In its new iteration it will house a corner bookstore and a restaurant by Croft Alley's Phuong Tran (both open to the public). The rest of the area will be dedicated to 37 workspaces, a recording studio and an auditorium large enough to seat 200. 

“Having a chance to celebrate him as an architect is more of what that’s about,” Aldenton says of the restored and reactivated building by Williams. “We’re really going to make this the piazza of the development. It’s open to the public. We’ve tried to find a way to get the most out of the building. If you can find a way to make it active for eighteen or twenty hours a day, it’s a great thing. The idea is that we can activate this, do yoga early in the morning or run a cultural program.”

Courtesy Second Home

Architectural rendering of Second Home Hollywood

In the surrounding gardens, another 60 studios are covered by rounded yellow roof decks with the retro mid-century nod to The Jetsons. Interspersed are some 6,500 plants and trees spread over a campus that can accommodate 1,500 people. 

Like the original Second Home sites, London (2014), and Lisbon (2016), the Hollywood location was designed by Madrid-based SelgasCano, known for working in harmony with nature, employing unusual materials like fabric membrane, laminated timber and colored tubing.  

“We get the broadest range of activity going on here in terms of what people are working on,” Aldenton says during a hard-hat tour of the site, three months before the September opening. “We think you can be more creative by being surrounded by different people and different ideas.”

Courtesy Second Home

Second Home Serpentine Pavilion by SelgasCano as it originally appeared in Hyde Park, 2015. Opening June 28, 2019 at La Brea Tar Pits.

Starting last week, Second Home launched a second L.A.-based project, the Serpentine Pavilion, also designed by SelgasCano, on the banks of the La Brea Tar Pit. Woven from translucent multi-colored polymers, it begs to be instagrammed and is one of the world’s most visited architectural design exhibitions at its usual home in London. In partnership with the Natural History Museum, the psychedelic space will host artist events till the end of November.

About the Author

Jordan Riefe

Jordan Riefe has been covering the film business since the late 90s for outlets like Reuters, THR.com, and the Wrap. He wrote a movie that was produced in China in 2007. Riefe currently serves as West Coast theatre critic for The Hollywood Reporter, while also covering art and culture for The Guardian, Cultured Magazine, LA Weekly and KCET Artbound.

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