The new Playhouse Plaza building in Pasadena is an extraordinary example of contemporary architecture that blends seamlessly into the Playhouse Historic District in which it’s located. The brilliant Pasadena based firm of Moule and Polyzoides, the designs architect, and Gensler, the international architectural firm that is functioning as executive architect have collaborated in an unprecedented way to create a spectacular building.
The Historic Playhouse District of Pasadena is home to an eclectic blend of architecture. Original structures from the late teens through the 1930’s, known as the “Golden Age of California Architecture” dot Colorado Boulevard and the immediate side streets between Marengo and Lake Avenues. Most of the newer construction is rather bland and boring, such as the Western Assets Building and the Trio Apartments. Playhouse Plaza, while contemporary in feel, pays homage to the several Art Deco buildings in the district, such as the Linden Optical building which originally housed Vroman’s Book Store and Angels School Supplies which was formerly the United Artists Theater.
According to developer David Saeta, the façade of Playhouse Plaza was inspired by the Bullock’s Wilshire building in the mid-Wilshire district of Los Angeles. The 1929 former luxury department store is clad in terracotta and copper panels with a green patina. The exterior of Playhouse Plaza is made of reinforced concrete panels accented by panels of green fiber reinforced plastic resembling aged copper.
Despite the size and volume of the 5 story, 155,000 square foot building with 367 subterranean parking spaces, the new structure feels natural in its setting. There will be ground level shops and a restaurant with office space on the upper floors. The top level will have balconies specifically designed to allow tenants access for viewing the Rose Parade on New Year’s Day. The building should be completed in the late spring of this year.