Project Address: 5101 E. Ocean Blvd.
Long Beach, Ca. 90803
Our team is excited to be able to work on this project both because of its amazing cultural significance as well as its potentially significant contributions to the Long Beach community. Historically the existing 5,000 SF venue was created as a restaurant and in the last 40 years has operated as one of Long Beach’s oldest gay night clubs. The buildings cultural significance was of keen interest to the team and has continued to influence the efforts to culturally update this aged building. Ultimately our solution is one which opens up the building to amazing ocean views, reconnects it to the neighborhood context and extroverts the program organization.
In our early analysis it was realized that the update of this building was one that operated on two discrete levels. One was that of typology – that it was evolving from the evening centric club to a daytime, beach restaurant and secondarily that it was reacting to a changing cultural context. The cultural aspects are those related to the gay community which when it was originally remodeled was protectionist, introverted, defensible and the antithesis of how an inclusive venue operates in contemporary context. The paradox of being closed and introverted while at the same time being situated on the ocean front of one of Long Beach’s most scenic beaches was significant. The original facade included no operable windows, programming which placed all activity towards the back of the building- away from view, and a single small, secure entry door.
There is a wonderful history to this building that the design team wished to embrace in what is seen as an architectural facilitated of cultural adaption. A Historic Resource Evaluation Report was commissioned to better understand the transformation this building has experienced in its more than 70 years of existence. Previous uses included the ‘Belmont Frostee Freeze” ice cream store, “Bar-Grill” restaurant, “Oceana” restaurant, and its latest incarnation as “Club Ripples” gay night club.
In tribute to the gay history associated with this venue a significant part of the original bar is being maintained with Club Ripples memorabilia as well as a video interview of patrons who’s shared experiences we feel need to be shared with future generations.
Ultimately our design solution utilized connectivity as a solution. Connectivity of the patrons to ocean view, connectivity of the patrons to the street, connectivity of the neighborhood to the venue. As a limiting factor in this effort, existing non-conforming conditions needed to be maintained including those related to a lack of parking and building setbacks. In order to maintain these rights it was necessary to design an adaption which did not modify more than 50% of the exterior walls otherwise these rights would be nullified. This solution has very carefully analyzed the structural implications of our proposal in order to effect the greatest possible change with less that 50% of the exterior walls being modified. Priority to this effort was given on the ocean facing side of the building and entry sequence.
Our solution embraces a simple palette of basic materials including Kebony wood panels, large expanses of glass and smooth plaster. The long, low eaves project out towards the ocean view and at the same time control direct south facing sunlight in a manner which gives soft, bounced light into the entry foyer. The challenging site, cultural and structural limitations have shaped this solution into one which is primarily reflexive to its largely residential context and intended to be the container for the memories of future generations.