How the first skyscrapers proposed for L.A.’s Arts District will change the neighborhood

How the first skyscrapers proposed for l. A. 's arts district will change the neighborhood
Renderings for the proposed 6AM complex in the Arts District show low-slung shops, restaurants, offices and residences framed largely in concrete and accented with murals / © Herzog & de Meuron

To paraphrase Ronald Reagan by way of Basel, Switzerland, it’s morning again in the Arts District.

At least that’s the upbeat sales pitch suggested by the name of a massive mixed-use development proposed for downtown L.A.’s booming Arts District by the Swiss architects Jacques Herzog and Pierre de Meuron.

Called 6AM — for its location along 6th Street between Alameda and Mill streets — the project includes 1.96 million square feet of residential space as well as shops, offices, a pair of hotels, room for a charter school and parking, most of it underground, for more than 3,400 cars.

Produced with the Irvine-based developer SunCal and covering 14.5 acres, the complex would be crowned with a pair of 58-story towers along Alameda. Each topping 700 feet, these would be the first skyscrapers in the largely low-rise Arts District.

Given debates about the pace and scale of development now roiling Los Angeles in general and the Arts District in particular, the proposal, which De Meuron and SunCal chief executive Bruce Elieff pitched Friday to Deputy Mayor Raymond Chan and other city officials in advance of filing preliminary plans next week, is likely to be a lightning rod for controversy. In height as well as bulk it would dwarf its neighbors, and the project would require a zone change and general-plan amendment from the city.

The developers certainly seem to be anticipating some blowback. Renderings released to The Times this week show an aerial view of the towers as almost ghostly forms and seen from only one angle: looking northwest, allowing them to blend in with the Bunker Hill skyline. Glimpsed from any other direction they would stand out from the surrounding architecture in a much starker way. […]

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