Mixed-use development draws inspiration from physical and historic connections


LocationCulver City, California
ClientHackman Capital Partners & The City of Culver City
Size98,000 sf (site); 55,000 sf (landscape)

As cities consider the future of their streets in light of pandemic-inspired innovations and federal infrastructure investment, placemaking solutions can help communities achieve more value from public rights-of-way.

In Culver City, California, landscape design born of public and private sector collaboration has resulted in a lively and accessible outdoor space, where creative paving enables streets to double as public plazas and terraced performance space.

The Steps are framed on one side by Culver Studios (where productions like “Gone with the Wind” and “Arrested Development” were filmed), and on the other by the Culver Hotel (once frequented by John Wayne and Charlie Chaplin). Here, SWA’s scheme of sculpted, stepped terraces for a new private development creates a memorable place for views, shade, respite, and interaction. This distinctive ambience is extended into the public realm with an adjoining plaza at street level, resulting in a continuous, central open space that unifies the surrounding buildings for a unique and programmed civic setting.

This spectacular project gives new meaning to Harry Culver’s renowned axiom, “All roads lead to Culver City.” The forging of this new outdoor commons revitalizes the Culver City’s “maker tradition”: rather than merely celebrating the past, the plaza provides a vital setting for today’s transit, culture, and award-winning restaurants.
In June 2018, The Culver Steps was awarded the Los Angeles Business Council’s Under Construction Award, an honor that was followed in 2019 by a “Best of Design Award” from The Architect’s Newspaper. This signature civic destination has already attracted high-profile tenants, including Amazon Studios, and promises to promote diversity and interaction for locals and visitors while establishing a strong identity for Culver City’s downtown.

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