The building where the Cambria Spring Street Los Angeles—scheduled to open by September 2021—is located has an interesting history.
The historic concrete building, located on the Gallery Row’s north end in downtown L.A., spans 14 floors and was built in the 1930s. The building’s exterior facade underwent an uninspiring remodel in the 1950s by the former ownership, which saw all of the terra-cotta ornamentation removed to project a mid-century modern look prevalent at that time. During the ’70s, the building was used by the Los Angeles Police Department for its administrative operations. Most recently, it was home to a multi-level parking garage with a series of office floors above.
PNK Group Investments, which will be operating the 180-key hotel , turned to Akarstudios, a Santa Monica-based design studio to provide the interior design, graphics and branding services for the project.
“The inspiration for the interior design of the hotel property was derived from the distinctive features that are rooted in the 1930s building’s original architectural style,” said Sat Garg, creative director, Akarstudios. “The most noticeable part of this historic building is the concrete waﬄe-type ceiling with deep recesses. As an iconic design element of the structure, the ceilings have been left exposed and showcased throughout the hotel’s interiors to act as an essential visual asset.”
For the overall design theme to complement the building’s underlying architecture, a vibrant custom-designed wallpaper depicting an artistically rendered map of Los Angeles infused with faded images of the building’s raw structure has been created by the designers. “This is the primary form of decoration in all of the guestrooms,” he said. “Along with the wallpaper, all of the guestroom furniture share a common design theme created from a combination of slender metal frames and quartz stone—perfect for the hotel’s setting in downtown Los Angeles.”
The hotel will also include an island bar in the public lobby and a private bar on the mezzanine level, as well as 12 large suites will be spread across the upper floors of the hotel.
The lighting design, by far, turned out to one aspect that posed a constant challenge throughout the interior design process, according to Garg. “Since existing conditions varied from floor to floor of this 14-story building, and purposely not having hard-lid ceilings in the guestrooms and circulation corridors, all of the lighting fixtures were first manually located and later positioned in the field to work around the existing ceiling conditions. This proved to be a rather time-consuming and challenging exercise in the execution of the design.”
The existing concrete columns and beams’—which seemed to show up in unexpected locations—were problematic. “Creative solutions had to be devised to render them with new refined finishes,” he said.
One element that Garg is excited about is the new grand stairway, leading from the main lobby to the mezzanine floor. “[It] will act as an engaging statement linking the building’s history with the future hotel in this unique setting,” he said. “Rising within the two-story volume space, once used as a drop-oﬀ area for the former parking garage, the stairway has been designed as a sculptural element for the hotel lobby’s expansive setting. A palette of matte black materials carrying angularly placed illuminated light channels will encapsulate the stairs’ exterior faces. When lit, the recessed channels will create a vibrant visual pattern symbolic of the existing ceilings’ geometric design.”