As L.A.’s epicenter of arts, culture and individuality, West Hollywood has a strong creative tradition that is aptly captured in the words “The Creative City” visible on every page of the city’s official website.
Little wonder, then, that sheer creativity is the hallmark of two luxury apartment buildings under construction in the city.
Located near two prominent intersections of La Brea Avenue—on Fountain and Santa Monica Boulevard—the buildings are named the Huxley and the Dylan. Both the complexes are designed primarily for young, laptop-savvy, multitasking freelancers who live in West Hollywood and are highly mobile, according to Susan Manrao, a Weho-based imaging consultant for the Agency, a real estate marketing company associated with the upcoming projects.
A specialist in how to develop properties and make them appealing to consumers, Manrao helped identify the psychological profiles of typical Weho working-class residents so that the building’s developers can create spaces that exemplify the cultural values of the demographic group.
“West Hollywood has always been about alternative lifestyles, whether for the young or the old,” says Manrao, adding that the apartment buildings under construction in the city fit right into that iconoclastic way of life.
Part of the work surrounding the buildings is “Faces of Weho,” an art project in which images of people in West Hollywood can be seen wrapped around construction scaffolding.
“The concept behind the art commission is that we are building a community specifically for the wants and needs of the residents of West Hollywood,” Manrao explains. “We wanted to celebrate this by engaging locals in an artistic endeavor by photographer David Zaitz.”
Titled “Looking Out From Within,” the artwork symbolizes “a diverse group of Weho residents looking through various forms of viewfinders and cameras at their community around them,” according to the art commission’s concept statement, Manrao says. “This ‘looking through a lense’ concept ignites a sense of curiosity throughout the community of Weho about the upcoming project.”
Click here for a sneak peek of the project’s rendering. “More images will be rolled out during various points of the year through the launch of the properties,” Manrao says.
One of the things that Manrao found in her research was a need for the buildings to be designed with a strong sense of community in mind.
“If you’re a freelancer working in Weho, your living space becomes an incubator for networking with others,” Manrao explains. As a result, “you’re used to being in public spaces suitable for wifi and impromptu meetings.”
The other feature of living in West Hollywood as a relatively young, self-employed person is that your residential space has to be amenable for both human and animal living.
“There are about 1,000 dogs per square mile in West Hollywood,” says Manrao, who runs her own business called Susan Manrao Consulting. “Instead of positioning the buildings as pet friendly, they need to be pet-centric.”
So one of the challenges for the developers—Essex Property Trust and Monarch Builders—is to “provide more innovative amenities for people to live with their animals,” Manrao says.
For example, apartments in the buildings will have doggie wash basins—or pet washing stations. The idea is that “you don’t always have to take your dog to the groomers,” Manrao explains.
Built at a combined reported cost of $150 million, both the apartment complexes will have six stories, replete with shops and restaurants on the ground floor. Huxley, which will be located on the corner of La Brea Avenue and Fountain, will have 187 units and is scheduled to open in the fall of 2013, according to Manrao. Dylan, located on La Brea and Santa Monica Boulevard, will have 186 units that will be available for occupancy sometime early next year.
And in case you’re wondering, both buildings are named after literary icons Aldous Huxley, the British author best known for his science fiction novel Brave New World, and the Welsh poet Dylan Thomas, who immortalized the line, Do not go gentle into that good night.
“They’re not your generic, easily recognizable writers but names that are subtle and more evocative of character,” Manrao says. “The beauty of the names is that they have a certain relevancy—it’s not like choosing e. e. cummings.”