China’s MAD Architects recently-opened LA office has been adapting to the sunny SoCal climate by churning out projects that embrace the local climate and lifestyle. 8600 Wilshire is the firm’s first official residential project in the US and at 48,000 square feet of lusciously landscaped modernity, embodying founder Ma Yansong’s core design intention to “coalesce nature and community into a living environment among high-density cities”—it’s clear they're not shy about making first impressions. The complex is meant to mimic the site’s adjacent foothills, clustering a smattering of 18 white villas and lots of greenery atop commercial space along LA’s main street, Wilshire Boulevard. This gleaming acropolis towers 60 feet above the city’s plains of Id, offering three townhouses, five villas, two studios, and eight condos, each with individual balcony-patios overlooking a communal garden.
The village is wrapped in a water-efficient “living wall” populated by native, drought-tolerant succulents and vines, providing greenery in every unit as well as a “green-screen” for the complex’s condo residents. Along Wilshire, the living wall lifts from the ground to reveal glass storefronts; the firm states, “The resulting effect is a floating plinth that resembles local privacy hedges and conceals an elevated courtyard.” This secret garden contains within it a central fountain and secondary reflecting pool. Again, from the architects, “In high-density cities, Modernist and Post-Modernist housing typically prioritized functions and formats over human relationships to the environment. For 8600 Wilshire, MAD considers the possibility of a new model for West Coast vernacular amid the sprawling density of Los Angeles. MAD purposes a harmonious architectural space of human experience by placing residents in the spiritual landscape of nature.” The project was recently honored by the Los Angeles Business Council in the “design concept” category at their 45th Annual Los Angeles Architectural Awards.
For more of MAD’s work, see their website.