Howard Laks Architects Recognized for Rehab of Santa Monica Proper Hotel

Santa Monica Proper Hotel — Photos by Tim Street-Porter
Santa Monica Proper Hotel (Photo by Tim Street-Porter)

SANTA MONICA, Calif. — Howard Laks Architects (HLA) was recently recognized with three awards for the rehabilitation of the 1928 Santa Monica Professional Building and modern addition for Santa Monica Proper Hotel. The Santa Monica Conservancy (SMC) bestowed the project its 2020 President’s Preservation Award. HLA’s work was also honored by the Westside Urban Forum (WUF) with a 2020 WUF Design Honor Award in the Hotels category. The Los Angeles Business Council (LABC) gave its Hospitality Architectural Award to the project.

The SMC Preservation Awards honor exemplary contributors to the conservation of Santa Monica’s architectural and cultural heritage, with the President’s Award as its highest honor. “We gave the President’s Award to the Santa Monica Proper Hotel project because it incorporated a historic building that was underutilized and in very significant need of rehabilitation and seismic work to ensure that it was going to survive the next 100 years,” stated the awards jury. “In a unique process, the architect and project teams worked with both the Landmarks Commission and Architectural Review Board to develop a compatible new structure with a compelling modern expression in harmony with the rehabilitated and adaptively reused landmark building.”

The annual WUF Design Awards recognize excellence in city making and community building in the Los Angeles area. The WUF jury presented the project with the highest honor in the Hotel category. “Everyone knows how hard it is to take an existing building and make a new part out of it,” the jury said. “We loved the way the team preserved the historical aspect and added the modern component—super creative and very ambitious.”

Formerly known as the 1928 Santa Monica Professional Building, this city landmark was converted into 55 rooms for the new hotel complex. The newly designed seven-story addition with 216 rooms is linked to the landmark building with a bridge. The ground floor is activated with retail, restaurants, and landscaped paseo, all open to the public.


“Santa Monica Proper Hotel is a symbol of our mission and dedication to delivering high-quality designs while sensitively considering the project’s context,” said Howard Laks, AIA, Founding Principal of Santa Monica-based Howard Laks Architects. “Recognition from these leading organizations is a testament to our vision of delivering client-focused designs that sustainably elevate the local community.”

HLA’s approach was to contrast the landmark building’s Spanish Colonial Revival architecture with a free-form new building designed to avoid direct visual competition between the structures. The addition’s curving plan and walls drape around the historic building, reading as monumental and orderly juxtaposed waveforms. Curved wings of the new building angle to harmonize with the 1928 building’s Y-shaped plan, while they also contrast to the faceted, angular shape of the historic building.

This focused and collaborative effort contributes a fresh perspective of modern and preservation architecture to Santa Monica’s Downtown District. Additional team members include Chattel, Inc. (preservation architect), Elysian Landscapes (landscape designer), Kelly Wearstler (interiors), HLB Lighting Design (lighting consultant), Morley Builders (general contractor), Saiful Bouquet Structural Engineers (new building structural engineer), Structural Focus (landmark building structural engineer), KPFF Consulting Engineers (civil engineers), Donald F. Dickerson Associates (MEP engineer), and GAIA (LEED consultant).

Howard Laks Architects (HLA) is currently designing a 71-room hotel in Santa Monica located adjacent to the light-rail terminal at Colorado Avenue and Fifth Street as well as a mixed-use development on Wilshire Boulevard at Berkeley Street in Santa Monica. HLA is also embarking on the restoration/rehabilitation and expansion of the Anthony-Kerry House in Beverly Hills, a landmark house designed by renowned architecture team Charles and Henry Greene (Greene & Greene). The project includes an 8,000-square-foot concrete-and-glass addition with a 22,000-square-foot below-grade athletic facility, screening room, and parking.



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