Q + A with Andrea
Q&A with A.K.A.’s Andrea Keller, Architect of Opal Residences
What inspired the design of Opal Residences?
The developer wanted to break with some of the common design types in the neighborhood, bringing in metallic elements, full walls of glass and expressive form. We wanted to create something that was very far away from a stucco box with punched windows.
Talk about the design elements and materials used; why they were used and how they complement each other.
The east facade is very expressive, with a top-floor living room that connects to the roof via a metal and glass staircase. The whole of the building's skin warps and stretches along the sides, culminating in a facade that appears very textured and thick as opposed to flat. The north wall of each home is almost completely glass, letting in soft natural light; the intent was for the interior spaces to feel expansive. Both the north wall and south windows are shaded by metal louvers for privacy.
How would you describe the Opal Residences — and each of the five homes — to someone who has never seen it? How would you describe the experience of being there?
The architecture is very contemporary with an international feel – not a typical Los Angeles stucco box. Ceilings and doors are high and the windows are expansive, three-story stairwells are open and see-through – we opened up space wherever possible. ‘The Residence’ is the crown jewel of Opal, with its living space on the top level and a direct staircase to the roof.
How did you maximize the indoor/outdoor space of each of the homes at Opal?
Each of the homes has a rooftop deck that covers the entire width of the home for maximum outdoor seating and dining, with views of the Hollywood Hills, Downtown LA and Century City.
How does Opal’s ‘The Residence’ vary from Two, Three, Four and Five?
‘The Residence’ has its main living space on the top level and primary bedroom one level below. On the ground floor, it has an extraordinarily tall entrance foyer, designed to fit the adjacent car lift. Its distinctive staircases climb from the Northeast corner to the Southwest by the time you reach the rooftop deck. There is nothing rote or ordinary about ‘The Residence’!
What is your favorite feature of the homes?
Our favorite feature is the multi-layered facade which is dynamic and moving. The stairwells are also extraordinary, flooded with light. High ceilings were a huge priority, something that you see more often in Europe than in US new construction.
Tell us about the setting of the five homes, precisely where it's located in West Hollywood. What makes it unique? What challenges did you face in designing the development there?
This corner of West Hollywood is advantageous because of its proximity to Fairfax and Melrose design districts, while still not being far from the restaurant culture of Santa Monica Blvd / Sunset. This area typically has older homes and apartments — this is a new type of housing for the area.
Opal is impressive in its design and unlike other homes on its block and neighborhood. How do you see its design interacting with the community and specific neighborhood?
The building is very design-forward and not shy about aesthetic choices. It was meant to be a bold design in a community known for a high degree of creativity and style. It’s certainly a building for people who want to stand out.
Anything to share regarding the vision behind the darkness of the exterior of Opal Residences? What do you call the color?
The exterior of the building was designed to contrast with the interior, which is light, neutral, and full of glass. The exterior features warm gray metal panels, charcoal smooth-finish plaster, sheet metal fascia elements and wood-look louvers. It was meant to be both dark and warm at the same time, with a slightly mechanical feel.
Tell us about the landscaping at Opal Residences.
The streets of West Hollywood are all planted with mature trees and the front yard will be fully landscaped as well. Additionally, there is landscaping at each home's entrance on the north side, as well as planters on the rooftop decks.
Why would it be hard to duplicate Opal Residences anywhere else?
Opal seeks to maximize the quality of life in West Hollywood, which is a vibrant city full of restaurants, shopping and culture. This property was designed to be different, in a city that prides itself on being creative. It’s a powerful way to plug into the WeHo community.