Living sky-high in downtown LA

Hosted by

Metropolis DTLA is a glass-and-steel high rise project next to the 110 freeway, and one of the first of what will be many downtown residential high-rises, akin to what we’ve seen in Century Center and the Wilshire corridor.

It includes three residential towers, with a total of 1,550 residences, and a hotel. The second tower just opened with a big party, and the third is still under construction.

People have been watching Metropolis go up for last four years, and assumed it was being sold exclusively to Chinese investors. DnA went to a party and toured the building and it seems like locals are also moving in.

Because of the freeway-adjacent location, designers did things to make it liveable and turn a liability into an asset. They made it appealing by raising the housing and garden in the sky above the parking and the freeway, added swimming pools, a dog park, a children’s playground, and a putting green. You can’t hear the freeways in the apartments themselves, and there are air filters installed. The downtown LA renaissance is happening very fast. 2,800 new residential units came online in 2017. Curbed LA recently mapped 32 high-rise projects that are coming to downtown, with thousands more units about to hit the market.

That’s because it’s hard to build anywhere else. This was a parking lot and it took a Shanghai developer to see its promise.

And in DTLA they allowed housing to go higher than in other neighborhoods. Residents want to be within walking distance of the downtown attractions.

“We have to densify because urban sprawl is really been a killer for us and enough's enough. So it's time for us to go vertical. It's time for us to do vertical better,” said Rob Jernigan, co-managing principal for the Southwest region for the architecture and design firm Gensler. His firm master-planned and lead the design of Metropolis.

But is this the best way to go vertical? One criticism of Metropolis is that it’s a bit corporate, like an office tower. It’s also private and only residents can enter.

But the people who live there are going in and out, just like any other building. And the garden in the sky is just for residents, in a park-poor region, but it’s also a park where one didn't exist before.


The view from a two-story, three-bedroom penthouse condo on the top floor of Metropolis’ Tower I in downtown LA. Photo by Avishay Artsy.