Curbed LA: Can Hayden Tract Be More Than an Architectural Curiosity?


From Curbed LA, February 25, 2014, by Guy Horton:

In the midst of the sprawling Los Angeles basin, halfway between Downtown Los Angeles and the beach, lies Culver City, home to movie studios, startups, Obama's former campaign headquarters, and, by Los Angeles standards, relatively cheap rents. Just across from Culver City's redeveloped downtown lies Hayden Tract, a former industrial zone that was once the region's infamous and literal "other side of the tracks," increasingly a haven for decaying aerospace warehouses and drug dealing, jammed between a former rail line and Ballona Creek.

In the eighties, coinciding with the planned renewal of its downtown, the Culver City Redevelopment Agency made Hayden Tract a pet project, focusing resources and attention onto the area to spruce it up. This was the beginning of Hayden as it is known today: an ongoing architectural experiment and real estate proposition called Conjunctive Points. It is the product of a near three decade-long exchange of ideas between local architect Eric Owen Moss, director of the Southern California Institute of Architecture, and his clients, the husband and wife developer team of Frederick and Laurie Samitaur Smith. They began buying up the area's decaying warehouses and handing them over to Moss, who was at the time becoming known for his idiosyncratic, intellectual approach, for radical re-dos.

Ask architects about Hayden Tract and they can tell you all about it. Owing to its abundance of eclectic buildings designed by Moss, it has long been regarded as a mecca for architectural pilgrimages, that one special place in the city—possibly the country—where architectural adventurousness can seemingly run free. Today, Moss is still engaged in creating singular buildings for the Samitaur Smiths, like the recently-completed Samitaur Tower and the Waffle, an undulating, egg-crate structured conference center currently under construction. Hayden occupies a central position in the history of contemporary architecture, specifically that rough industrial brand that emerges from the creative synergies of Los Angeles.

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