While AvalonBay’s AVA brand is driven by the interests of Millennials, the newest Los Angeles addition has a flair of inspiration from Asian pop culture, mixed with local West Coast touches.

AvalonBay's 18th community, AVA Little Tokoyo, is located in Los Angeles and combines local L.A. vibes with a taste of Asian culture.
AvalonBay's 18th community, AVA Little Tokyo, is located in Los Angeles and combines local L.A. vibes with a taste of Asian culture.

Even though the brand is a cohesive line of communities within AvalonBay's portfolio, the new AVA Little Tokyo has a life of its own, Tom Guiteras, senior director of development, says. The community, located in downtown L.A.’s Little Tokyo neighborhood, is the 18th AVA-branded building developed by Arlington, Va.-based AvalonBay.

“We don’t try to repeat the architecture, or the colors,” Guiteras says. “We try to keep it youthful and interesting.”

Irwin Yau worked on designing the new community with bright pops of color, hints of Japanese style and interior finishes with Los Angeles influences. Yau says during the early stages of planning the design, his team met with local community partners and asked what kind of a building they wanted to see.

“They wanted us to represent modern Japan and not have any reference to traditional Japanese culture,” he says.

Yau, a principal at Irvine, Calif.-based TCA Architects, and the design team ran with the idea. They were inspired by mainstream Japanese marketing and design concepts surrounding popular modern commodities, including the outfits and attitudes of Harijuku girls, new sneakers, ice cream treats, and even creative drinking straws.

“We worked in a robin’s egg blue frame around the balconies,” he says. “We added color into the balconies and used glass railings, clear glass and blues and greens and yellows for the glass on the balconies.”

The interior design of the building was locally focused since the design team wanted the building to also reflect the Los Angeles market.

“We chose a skateboard theme and used plywood accents throughout the whole project including plywood artwork,” Yau says.

The building features studio, one-,two- and three-bedroom units with modern finishes specific to the L.A. urban area.

Mix and Mingle
One of the unique characteristics of the AVA brand is designing creative, urban spaces and amenities to promote resident interaction.

The Little Tokyo community includes many common areas that were designed for mingling, including a rooftop deck that will overlook the city, which is Yau’s favorite part of the building.

“We spent a lot of time figuring out how that works with the rest of the building,” he says. “We took that space and framed it with a copper color material. You see a void at the top of the project and that becomes part of the roof deck.”

Guiteras' favorite part of the development is still in the process of being finished. He’s most excited for the retail components to come together.

“Filling the retail spaces below will really activate the plaza on the corner and the whole street scene is going to be great,” he says.

And those retail spaces will activate social interaction for residents as well, tying into the brand initiative, Guiteras says.

“The social aspect is really important,” he says. “We are going to be having shops and restaurants as well and that’s an extra element of the socialbility of the building. You can just go downstairs and hit one of the restaurants with friends without really leaving your home.”

AVA Little Tokyo is scheduled to have a grand opening in December.