Every once in a while a piece of architecture comes along that is emblematic of a moment in a city’s architectural and urban development. One Santa Fe, a 438-unit apartment complex in the arts district by Michael Maltzan Architecture, is that kind of building.
It is a fractal of contemporary Los Angeles architecture, the fragment that both contains and helps explain the whole.
One Santa Fe is not a flashy or gymnastic piece of architecture. It doesn’t suggest a new design vocabulary for the 55-year-old Maltzan, who founded his firm in 1995.
What gives the $165-million project its unusual symbolic power is that it takes the generic stuff of a typical L.A. apartment building — a wood frame slathered in white stucco and lifted above a concrete parking deck — and expands it dramatically to urban scale. […]