I’ve noticed a trend of super cool projects popping up Santa Monica, California.  My guess is there is something in the water that allows its residents to become uber-creative and build fresh modern buildings within its city limits.  Another theory is that someone, perhaps the mayor, planted some dark matter in the Santa Monica city hall that selectively pulls the country’s best designers and architects towards it.  Regardless of the reasons, the Southern Cali beach town is a hot spot for design, and one firm that has made it their home is Belzberg Architects.  Led by Hagy Belzberg, the dynamic firm is garnering a lot of recognition for their work… two of their projects recently were awarded 2009 Best of the Year by Interior Design magazine, one of which was their own headquarters called the 20th Street Offices.

The 5,000 sq foot studio houses the Belzberg team and two other design firms, sharing a two level, plus mezzanine, building that has reached LEED Gold certification.  Several green initiatives were embedded into the building’s design to help it achieve 31% reductions in energy usage and costs and 47% reduction in indoor water use.  The primary design feature is its open, linear tube-like form that sits above an at-grade parking lot.  This concept raises the conditioned space, allowing natural ventilation to flow through the interior with ease.  20 foot tall glazing assemblies on the east and west ends open to let occupant’s get a sniff of the cool ocean breeze in addition to filling the interior with plenty of natural daylight.

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Another unique design feature is the building envelope, which is composed of custom diamond pattern cladding, fabricated out of sheet metal, along with R19 and R30 recycled denim insulation.

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The rooftop of the building features an array of photovoltaic panels that offsets 12.5% of energy needs and additional measures to reduce heat island effects for 75% of its area.  Other areas of the development’s greenness include:

  • 70% of building’s energy purchased with Green Power
  • Native, drought-tolerant landscaping with drip irrigation
  • 84% construction waste diverted from landfill
  • Access to public transit, bike storage and showering facilities

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Photos from Belzbergarchitects.com

Belzberg is doing it right with this office development.  They not only designed a building which can used for future clients and visitors to experience and visualize the possibilities of building green, they now have a test subject to experiment with future green building products and initiatives… Belsyeah, Belzberg!

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About Joshua Foss


Joshua is a leading voice for transformational change. He is the editor of Metro Hippie, co-founder and director of development of the Ecala Group, and adjunct faculty at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design. He is also an ambassador for the Living Building Challenge and is a frequent speaker at national conferences, trade shows and summits.