Star architects come to LA, but will they get to build?

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At the intersection of Alameda and 6th Streets in the Arts District, the Irvine-based developer SunCal has plans for a combination of office, live-work and retail space, on a site the size of 11 football fields, and including two 58-story residential towers. It's being designed by the Swiss architecture firm Herzog & de Meuron -- known for Bird's Nest stadium (designed with Chinese dissident artist Ai Weiwei) for the 2008 Beijing Olympics, the Tate Modern and the De Young museum in San Francisco.

Meanwhile in Santa Monica, OMA, Office of Metropolitan Architecture, the firm of the famed Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas (designer of the CCTV building in Beijing and the Seattle Library) has designed a hotel, residential and office complex for a "superblock" at 4th and Arizona.

Now the Danish architect Bjarke Ingels, head of Bjarke Ingels Group, or BIG, has been tapped by the Gallo family and real estate firm V.E. Equities to design a very large new development on the site of the Rancho Cold Storage facility on Mesquit Street in the Arts District.

The project, called 670 Mesquit, will stretch north from the 7th Street Bridge almost as far as the forthcoming 6th Street Viaduct and will comprise around 800,000 square feet of office space, 250 rental apartments, two boutique hotels as well as shops and restaurants. It'll be made up of two connected buildings, 30 stories tall at their highest point.

Ingels is known for huge multi family projects from Copenhagen to Manhattan where the pyramidal tower his firm designed was just picked as one of the best buildings of the year by the New York Times. He's also designing Google's headquarters in Mountain View and London, and is even working on a rebrand of Nordic countries.

All of these teams are proposing an alternative to car-centric LA -- a high and low-rise combination of work, home and shopping. All of them offer a break from generic multi family projects -- the Koolhaas project has blocks that zigzag across the site with gardens on each roof; the Ingels project contains plug-in glazed units within a concrete superstructure and has a cantilevered bridge. Herzog & de Meuron are going for a kind of industrial chic aesthetic and promise stacks of light-filled apartments around courtyards and schools.

Each is very large and all of them are already meeting resistance due to their height, density and perceived appeal to a pricy market. The Koolhaas project was one of four that galvanized Santa Monica residents to put Measure LV on November's ballot.

These projects represent a massive jump in scale and density for spread out Los Angeles and are running up against the strong fears of gentrification and overdevelopment. They also represent an opportunity to bring exciting visions for multifamily, urban development to a region that in the eyes of many planners and developers is highly under-developed.

Will these projects take LA into the future -- or be stopped?

Photo: Bjarke Ingels Group has revealed proposals for their first project in Los Angeles, a mixed-use development in the Arts District called 670 Mesquit.