IN THE ZONE: The developers of 717 Olympic are counting on traffic from L.A.'s hot spots to drive leasing.
IN THE ZONE: The developers of 717 Olympic are counting on traffic from L.A.'s hot spots to drive leasing.

Earthquake requirements, the small lot size, and nearby historical buildings all factored into the design of the 26-story building, which is now renting. Architect Daun St. Amand of Baltimore-based RTKL Associates says that one significant challenge was working to adhere to California’s seismic requirements while also trying to include parking on a 17,370-square-foot lot.

“It was a shoe-horning exercise,” he says, laughing. Still, the challenges, including the historical building requirements, forced him to experiment with the high-rise’s design and ultimately led to a better project. For example, St. Amand maximized space and minimized structural costs by using a type of framing called expressed moment, which helps the project meet seismic requirements and serves as the structure’s main articulation and organization device, he says.

“Don’t let the constraints stop you,” St. Amand advises. “Exploit them to your advantage. Because of the requirements, we have a project that no one else has.” The 151 one- and two-bedroom apartments range in size from 660 square feet to 1,644 square feet and include seven levels of parking as well as 7,499 square feet of ground-floor retail and commercial space.

Ryan Hamilton, a partner of Houston-based developer R.S. Hanover, says he picked the former parking lot site because of its environs. He knew that 717 Olympic’s neighbors, which include a 1922 Romanesque-style Variety Arts Club and the massive Staples Center entertainment and sports venue, would generate interest in the area.

“The downtown is going through a renaissance, and it is exciting to see the residential development that is happening now,” Hamilton says. “We just saw the writing on the wall.”

Location, location, location. That was one of the biggest factors in creating the look of 717 Olympic, a modern, luxury residential tower being developed in the burgeoning sports and entertainment district of downtown Los Angeles.