The multi-disciplinary design firm Rios Clementi Hale Studios has been recognized with three industry honors for its highly sustainable design for The Resort at Playa Vista—a new, 25,000-square-foot recreational facility and park in the Playa Vista neighborhood of Los Angeles, CA. The LEED Platinum-certified project has been awarded by the American Institute of Architects, Los Angeles (AIA|LA) with the inaugural Committee on the Environment (COTE) Award. It also received two accolades from the US Green Building Council, Los Angeles’ (USGBC-LA) Sustainable Innovation Awards for Excellence in Water Conservation and Innovation in Design.
The Resort exemplifies Rios Clementi Hale Studios’ range of multi-disciplinary talents in architecture, landscape architecture, interior design, and custom-designed furniture within a single project. It showcases the architects’ thoughtfulness in delivering a highly energy-efficient, beautiful design that meshes interior and exterior spaces. Patrons quietly drift through the site and building without losing the connection to nature, which is so fundamental in this development and Southern California.
“Rios Clementi Hale Studios achieved solid energy performance and used some very smart technologies to get there,” expressed AIA|LA’s COTE Awards jury, who recognized the firm in the Citation category for its exceptional design that demonstrates the seamless integration of high-performance solutions.
The building’s figure-8 organization stresses the connection of public and private facilities via a major corridor running diagonally across the site and between interior and exterior spaces. Planted walls at each end of the diagonal draw the exterior conditions of the main and north entry courts into the building. Playful colors of purple, magenta, red, and orange enliven the interiors, along with custom-designed moveable furnishings in the same vibrant palette. Public and private spaces are organized around interior gardens that enable natural ventilation, act as light wells, and bring nature inside. A 7,800-square-foot planted roof—visible from the street— rises from the second floor and loops over the lobby and part of the gym. The remaining roof area is equipped with solar panels and covered in a recyclable light colored PVC membrane to reduce energy needs.
“When we learned that the site had once been zoned as a park, we were inspired to design the building as a park that responded to the native wetland environment,” said Mark Rios, FAIA, FASLA, Founding Partner at Rios Clementi Hale Studios. “The coastal setting presented a perfect backdrop for indoor/outdoor programming and led to the development of the building’s passive cooling system.”
The architects capitalized on the local coastal microclimate to enable more than 80% of the building to be cooled by natural ventilation. Cool air from the prevailing winds is pulled into the building via the interior gardens, then conducted naturally through the warmer interior spaces by large expanses of sliding doors, the perimeter walls on both levels of the gym, and throughout the lobby. In cooler months, low winter sun enters through the glazing and helps warm the space, along with limited mechanical heating. Multi-paneled glass doors and deep roof overhangs also aid the passive cooling system.
Sustainable strategies were augmented by using technologically advanced plumbing and electrical systems, such as a combined heat and power system (CHP), photovoltaic panels, and dual plumbing using both potable and recycled water. The CHP uses natural gas to generate electricity and waste heat via a simple Chevy engine. Generated heat is used for pools, spas, and offsetting the building’s electrical usage. The building “dashboard” monitors the CHP’s photovoltaic and electrical performance. Locker rooms and restrooms feature low flow showers, sinks, toilets, and urinals. A dual pluming system connects toilets and urinals to the municipal reclaimed water supply.
Planted areas at the pool deck, and throughout the project, feature drought-tolerant plant species comprising succulents, low shrubs, and grasses supported by drip irrigation systems. The grade-level landscape is irrigated with municipal reclaimed water. Palm trees and specimen trees populate the project to tie in with the Playa Vista master plan. Mature trees, lawns, decomposed-granite pathways, a patio and stage area, and triangular sculpture with water features combine to make the park a tranquil respite for residents and visitors.
“The scale and comprehensiveness of the actions taken on this project really stood out, and showed that sustainable design doesn't have to mean a compromise in the quality of a luxury resort experience,” noted USGBC-LA’s Sustainable Innovation Awards jury, who recognized the firm for its sustainable strategies that demonstrate exemplary performance above and beyond LEED credit achievement.
The green roof reduces heat-island effects and filters rainwater runoff. The use of drought-tolerant grasses, typical of the Southern California coastal environment, minimizes the water usage required for irrigation. Solar panels are installed on sections of the roof that are not planted; those sections are also covered in a recyclable, cool-roof PVC membrane. Indirect daylighting strategies throughout courtyards and exterior glazing are also utilized to further reduce energy consumption from lighting and overall heat gain.
Rios Clementi Hale Studios has earned an international reputation for its collaborative and multi-disciplinary approach, establishing an award-winning tradition across an unprecedented range of design disciplines. The firm’s partners—Mark Rios, FAIA, FASLA, Julie Smith-Clementi, IDSA, Frank Clementi, AIA, AIGA, Bob Hale, FAIA, and Mark Motonaga—comprise a team involved in every aspect of design, from practice to education. Acknowledging the firm’s diverse body of work, the American Institute of Architects California Council gave Rios Clementi Hale Studios its 2007 Firm Award, the organization’s highest honor. For its varied landscape work—from civic parks to private gardens—the firm was named a finalist in the 2009 Cooper-Hewitt National Design Awards. Since 1985, the architects, landscape architects, planners, and urban, interior, exhibit, graphic, and product designers at Rios Clementi Hale Studios have been creating buildings, places, and products that are thoughtful, effective, and beautiful.
Owner: Playa Vista Parks & Landscape Corporation
Developer: Brookfield Residential
Architecture, Landscape Architecture, Interior Design, Furniture: Rios Clementi Hale Studios
MEP Engineer: IEG Consulting
Structural Engineer: VCA Engineers, Inc.
Civil Engineer: Hunsaker & Associates
Lighting: Horton Lees Brogden Lighting Design
Kitchen Consultant: Laschober + Sovich
Pool Consultant: Holdenwater
LEED Consultant: Zinner Consultants, Inc.
Waterproofing: D7 Consulting
Methane Mitigation: Methane Specialists
Soils Engineer: Group Delta Consultants, Inc.
Specifications: Lookinglass Architecture and Design
Photos: Tom Bonner