Crenshaw Baldwin Hills Project Approved

Having forged a very successful relationship with  Park & Velayos, LLC on the Parson’s project in Pasadena, we were contacted again by the firm to produce a series of renderings for an important urban redevelopment project in Baldwin Hills, Los Angeles.

Once a thriving shopping mall in the Crenshaw district, the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza opened in 1947 and was actually the first post-war retail plaza in California. The oldest shopping mall in the US, it was once one of Los Angeles’ major attractions, and includes some significant Art Deco style buildings.

With the changing tide of on-the-ground retail, Capri Capital Partners, who purchased the site in 2010, have an eye towards making it once again a center for the community and a destination easily accessed by the upcoming Metro Rail stop.  Collaborating with a team that including RAW International and LRM Landscape Architecture, we created a series of renderings that hit the mark in capturing the spirit of the project and that proved to greatly help Capri Retail Advisors in their proposal.

As with many master-planning projects at the preliminary stage, there was little in the way of actual architectural design when we were commissioned, so we worked to create scenes of the kind of community using place holder architecture – retail and residential – that would speak to the potential of the project and the enhancement of the neighborhood.

With the client directing, views were selected that would tell the big story, showing how the former retail space would convert into residential, hotel, business and open community space.  Featuring the lovely landscaped grand stairway was an obvious choice as it will serve as the primary gateway to the new mall. Another view displays how the project will fit in with the existing buildings in this historic area and shows how businesses would interact with the area, including the relationship of the new Martin Luther King Metro Station.

On the opposite end of the site, a view features the hotel, gardens and pool area with a variety of amenities, adding a destination for events, weddings and business conventions.  The open space aerial view presented a great opportunity to show all of the residential amenities.  By creating views that featured the park, sports courts and barbecue areas, you can see how the community would interact with the new plan.

After 18 months of negotiation the project has received city approval and will be moving forward into the next phase of development.

Many thanks to Park & Velayos for their faith in us and to Capri Capital Partners for bringing us onboard. Nothing makes us happier than to see our client’s projects move on to construction!

Our renderings of the project were predominantly featured in articles about the Mall in the Los Angeles Business Journal, ,, and the LA Times.

Distilling all of the information with sensitivity to design, context and the needs of the client to visualize something that can serve as a credible representation of your idea, what you want it to be, is a valuable part of the skills we have developed after many years of working with the architectural community. We don’t just provide renderings, we offer a service that creates a sense of place and gains you approval in your presentation.

If we can help you and your company with an upcoming project, please contact us!

Masterplanning Project Sketches!

What can you do when you have a presentation that is an important opportunity to get client, review board or public approval, and your project is still in the formative stages? There is a delicate balance between the desire to present a preliminary scheme that will win approval and the impulse to commit to too much, when showing your hand too early can greatly affect the outcome.

Recently, AC Martin came to us with a proposal for a masterplan of new student facilities at Cal State Dominguez. They needed something that would show how the new additions to the campus might look, but were not ready to make a commitment to a final design.

The client sent us very simple massing models, a selection of “architectural looks” and a tree palette. We reviewed the information and got to work.

Aerial View Massing Model

Victoria Retail Massing Model

The first step was to establish the view angles from the model that would best present the key points of interest.  We created a series of small, quick concept sketches to insert architectural context and to get a sense of how the landscape elements and entourage would impact the views.  These fast, little studies communicate information very clearly to the client, so they can adjust and approve. That done, we were able to move onto the next stage.

Victoria Retail Concept Sketch

Village Green & Retail Concept Sketch 1

With the view selection finalized, we created formal block-outs where we establish the look of the architecture, foliage placement and entourage.

Village Green & Retail Block-out

Aerial Block-out

From there we go on to formal line art, adding people and cars to enliven the scene,

2939 - Village Green & Retail Line Art

2939 - Aerial Looking N Line Art

and then to the final colored pencil sketches, where we included all color information for the scene.  The result was a series of sketch drawings that give the viewer enough of an idea of how these places might look to get them fully on board.

2939 - Final Village Green & Retail

2939 - Final Aerial Looking N

Having the experience of close interaction with our architectural clients over many years and the ability to design on the fly has proven to be a great asset to our clients.  This process of picture development has been used with success on several large projects and aided in them getting quickly passed through review and into the next stage of development.

Here is feedback received from the client about the finished work:

“First let me say that the renderings are beautiful–and exciting because they make the projects seem so real and so appealing.  I particularly appreciate your contribution to the architecture and design of the new buildings.” – S.P.

Filling in the blanks is just one of the many extra services we can offer.  Contact us for information on how we help your next Master-planning project come to life.

Thursday, Feb 8 at 6PM at UCSB – Carlos Diniz Studio

I am very honored to have been selected by UCSB to give a presentation on the years I spent working with my step-father, Carlos Diniz, in his studio.

Carlos was one of the great architectural illustrators to emerge in the mid Twentieth Century. His work is a catalogue of prominent architecture of the period, and includes commissions from SOM, HOK, Gruen, Welton Beckett, Minoro Yamasaki, Cesar Pelli, I M Pei, Frank Gehry and virtually every major architect and architecture firm of the period on projects that spanned the globe.

As a life-long student of art and illustration, with the added perspective of being his step-son and recipient of his personal mentoring, this event is a rare delight to share some of the true hidden gems of the archive and expand appreciation of this masterful work.

In the lecture, I will also be discussing some of the distinctive techniques and processes used to create the works and some of the memories I have of Carlos and my experience of working in this vital and exciting time for architectural illustration.

In 2015, my family chose the UCSB Museum of Art, Architecture and Design as the recipient of a large portion of the Carlos Diniz archive. It is a vast treasure trove of significant 20th Century building and talented design, drawn and painted with sublime expertise.

There is so much incredible work in the 45 year span of Carlos Diniz Associates.  I am sure it will provide delight and inspiration for generations to come.  In this lecture, I hope to bring insight to those familiar with the works as well as open new thoughts about architectural presentation to the emerging generation of student architects.

The lecture is at the UCSB Art Design & Architecture Museum on Thursday, February 8, 2018 at 6:00PM with a brief reception prior at 5:15PM.  If you are convenient to the area, I invite you to join me to celebrate the man and his work.


Kitchell Architecture & Design Lecture Series - Ian Espinoza