A New Architect and a Major Change in Design for Barney’s Beanery Project

An illustration of a proposed hotel, apartment, retail project for 8447 Santa Monica Blvd. as viewed from Sal Guarriello Park (MAD Architects)

A hotel and restaurant project proposed for 8447 Santa Monica Blvd., the site of Barney’s Beanery, has undergone significant changes under a new architect.

The project design was presented at a neighborhood meeting last night at the Palihouse hotel at 8465 Holloway Drive at Hacienda Place. It once was proposed as a hotel with 113 rooms with a below-grade live music space and recording studio. It would replace the existing surface parking lot with approximately 244 underground parking spaces. That project also would have included the existing Barney’s Beanery, which would be disassembled and then restored to its current location at the center of the site. The designer of the project was R&A Architecture and Design.

The open public area proposed for the corner of Santa Monica Boulevard and Olive Drive (Illustration by MAD Architects)

The project presented last night, designed by MAD Architects, would include an 88-room hotel along with 45 apartments, 11 of which would be available at below-market rents. It also would include three restaurants (including Barney’s Beanery) and incorporate the façade of Barney’s Beanery into its design. It also would include an underground 80-seat live music venue and recording studio. There would be retail shops and a public plaza on the southeast corner of the site.

In addition to the inclusion of apartments and retail, a major difference in the latest iteration of the project is that it would extend east to Olive Drive and slightly up that residential street. The Olive façade would feature a major entrance to the complex.

“This is a truly transformational project,” said Aaron Green, project spokesperson. “We have purposefully designed this with an architectural and project program that pays homage to cultural importance of the site while focusing on providing significant community benefits. We look forward to a engaged dialogue with our neighbors, which we believe will result in a project that we and the community will be equally excited to see built.”

MAD Architects is a global firm with offices in Beijing, New York City and Los Angeles. MAD Architects is the principal architect of the now-under construction Lucas Museum of Native Art in Los Angeles.

The owners of the project include Phil Howard and Dean McKillen, owners of Laurel Hardware and Ysabel; Zach Vella of Vella Group, and Barney’s Beanery owner David Houston.

Barney’s, which opened in 1927, is known for customers such as musicians Jim Morrison of the Doors and Janis Joplin, poet Charles Bukowski and screenwriter Quentin Tarantino, who is said to have written the script for “Pulp Fiction” at Barney’s. It also is known for a sign that read “Fagots Stay Out.” That sign was removed in December 1984, days after West Hollywood was incorporated as its own city, by then-mayor Valerie Terrigno and the city council.

The project will have to go through standards steps for approval, including an evaluation by the Planning Commission’s Design Review Subcommittee and by the Planning Commission, before finally being approved.

The earlier Barney’s Beanery hotel project (Design by R&A Architecture and Design)

45 Comments
  1. I think it’s probably a poor rendering of a decent idea similar to the project on San Vicente and La Cienega that houses Trader Joe’s and The Larder.

    On the other hand, something about this project says this is what you see at the end of a business cycle. It will never be built….

  2. This is truly grotesque. Th question is ….why.’..? There are so many beautiful & classy architectural designs available & I know that architects (can) have more creative talents than this mess. It looks like a docked cruise ship – only worse. Unfortunately I live very close by. I guess I’ll have to close my eyes when I walk by. Sad

  3. this is so ugly, like U2 ruining 120+ undisturbed acres in Malibu…..only comfort is theu can only build a small road up and its on a fire ridgeline..let mother nature do her work..in regards to Barney’s who ever likes this needs there head examined..it kills all the cool places tourists come to LA for…..

    Its obvious there is a paid pr team commenting here..PATHETIC

    1. Don’t you wish most of the tourists would just f*ck off? Would love to know what “cool” places you mean. Maybe the IHOP.

  4. This design only preserves the facade of Barney’s Beanery! Facadism is the worst kind of historic vandalism, masquerading as honoring heritage. This design is as disgusting as the developers. And it will instantly dated. This building and the ethos behind it are total garbage.

  5. Yes, it’s kind of an afterthought trying to save the hate-filled, gay bashing past of the Beanery, but it’s been saved. This design matches the trend of new buildings going up in the area. It improves the area. Santa Monica Blvd. is basically a dump but many developments are in the works to improve this strip. Makes it feel safer, more enjoyable to walk on with new and exciting developments. We need the trashy buildings gone to continue to improve the area. I support this. Great design. That said, may not visit the place. Most restaurants don’t serve quality, healthy ingredients you can trust. But it serves a market. Let’s see who moves in. I’m always hopeful. I love the greenery in the design for the Beanery.

  6. Finally, a developer is willing to invest some serious money into stunning architecture in West Hollywood. I love this design. It’s fluid, elegant, and beautiful. It’ll make a fantastic replacement for the ugly parking lot that takes up most of that site. Go check out the architect’s website (i-mad.com) – their projects are pretty amazing. This is the same group that designed the Lucas Museum.

    Don’t get me wrong, there’s a housing affordability crisis in LA, and it needs to be addressed. But this project is providing 11 affordable housing units out of 45. That’s almost 25% affordable housing. I’m pretty sure that’s more than the minimum amount required.

    And yes, this project is significantly taller than that the one-story buildings currently at this location. But the Emser Tile building located right next door is 7-stories, so it won’t feel out of place.

    People can’t honestly expect developers to build low-slung, high-concept projects made up entirely of affordable housing. The community needs to strike a fine balance. I think that that the additional height on this project is a worth-while trade off for the extraordinary design.

    And, they’re keeping Barney’s!

    1. Frankly there is and apparently always will be a housing crisis with no real achievable limit. The figures just keep moving and driving construction under the perception of a real crisis.

      Would like to see some credible evidence to the contrary.

  7. As to those who love/like the design(no shade, everybody has their own opinions & taste).

    BUT honestly, how often does a preliminary artist rendering ever look like the finished project (a universal Problem, but much more so in WeHo)

  8. This is a joke, right? The proposed building belongs in Las Vegas. The only things missing are a casino on the ground floor, a caged tigers display, and a roller coaster on the roof!
    This has to be the non-serious proposal submitted in hopes of minimizing opposition to whatever the genuine proposal is because “at least it’s not as bad as that ‘stacked potato chip’ design!”

  9. I love this design. I live nearby and roll past this entire lot daily. I currently find the entire block to be a major eyesore. It even presents safety issues for me, which make it the most stress-inducing part of my rolls around the block. Unfortunately, the design of the block and handicap accessibility issues make avoiding it impossible.

    The chronically empty building on the Olive side is not only an eyesore, but also a magnet for the homeless. Things are so bad there that the ‘stock ticker’ from the celebrity stock exchange is still mounted on the roof after more than a decade since it went under.

    While many like Barney’s and consider it a WeHo institution, there is no denying the fact that it is a complete eyesore. On top of this, I am constantly getting heckled by the crowd @ Barney’s at all hours of the day. The adjacent valet / parking lot constantly blocks off the sidewalk while picking up and dropping off vehicles. This poorly lit lot is basically a homeless hotel. I totally understand that these unfortunate people need a place to sleep, but passing by the parking lot with shadowy figures moving about after Barney’s closes and before sunrise is extremely disconcerting. On top of all this, there is almost always at least one person passed out (drunk) on the sidewalk every morning, and these individuals are usually not homeless! This poses a major hazard for the disabled (like myself), as the layout of the street and sidewalks make bypassing these individuals extremely unsafe.

    Further commenting on the new design & setup. While I worry that the design will look dated in the long run, I find it modern and attractive. I find the inclusion of the Barney’s facade to be a ridiculous eyesore. I’m okay with bringing the business into the new building, but would rather preserve the decor inside than out. I am glad to see the inclusion of Appartments (especially the affordable variety), but would prefer the elimination of the hotel entirely.

  10. Great. Just what West Hollywood needs… more hotels and less destinations. There’s no way once that building is finished they are going to put Barney’s back in. It’s to much of a contrast. Can anyone from the historical society step in and help save this 100 year old establishment!??

  11. This looks amazing, modern, yet keeping the Barney’s landmark and spirit intact. Exactly what Weho needs, more housing beautifying the area and this specific important corner versus what is there which is now older, dirty and more run down. Exciting, modern and new, yet respectful of one of Weho’s important landmarks.

  12. Wow! Love the design renderings. I think the landscaping that’s incorporated into the building is really cool and makes it unique. I always think of this current stretch of WeHo on Santa Monica Blvd as very seedy, and hopefully this cool new development will help to change that.

  13. I find the design quite ugly and I really doubt they will put Barney’s facade back intact. Just look what happened with the Spaghetti Factory in Hollywood. That was supposed to have the façade incorporated into the new building, but wasn’t and now the new building is tied up in litigation and stands empty.

    Anyway, do we REALLY need ANOTHER hotel in WeHo? Pretty soon, the HO of WeHO will stand for Hotels instead of Hollywood

  14. It looks like they stuck a cruise ship in the ground to me or a suburban mall. It just looks like it will tower over everything. At least the bottom picture looks like it would fit in the neighborhood.

    11 out of 45 apartments as low income = 24.4% low income housing, which is good. I don’t think that the hotel rooms are included in the formula for percentage of low income housing.

    What exactly is an 80 seat underground music venue? I could see an 80 seat playhouse, but I haven’t heard of an 80 seat music venue before and why would it be underground?

    I don’t know if the project makes sense, but that rendering really does a huge disservice to them if they want to get public support for it.

  15. The thing that is killing this design is the fact that they’re trying to keep the old Barney’s Beanery in tact. Create a new space for it and incorporate it into the design.

  16. OMG! Seriously? This monstrosity barely fits on the block in the architectural renderings — which by the way, have taken huge liberties in making the area seem more spacious that it is. (The “park” isn’t that large and the streets are not that wide.) Design is a matter of individual taste. This thing is too big and could easily be reduced by half. A no brainer; just say NO!

  17. Wow, great redesign. 32 years in West Hollywood and I love it. This is so perfect for the location and progressive nature of our forward thinking Urban City.

  18. Reminiscent of the PDC hovering over the plating business. The view from Sal Gueriello’s Park and Homeless Public Bathing Fountain is absurd. This design may have been uncoupled from the Caruso Airport lounge on Burton Way & SanVicente.

    1. These messages are obviously filled with troll accounts sponsored by the developer.

      This article plainly says the ugly truth:

      it will “incorporate the façade of Barney’s Beanery into its design.”

      It destroys something which can never be gotten back.

      1. “Back in my day…” is pretty much your entire reasoning. Oh well. As they say in technology, “the future happens one funeral at a time”.

  19. I love it!! So refreshing to see something different instead of those glass boxy designs that are typical in current LA apt/condos. Of course it will have to deal with the NIMBYs or DEBBIE DOWNERS.

  20. NOOOOOO!!! We talk about the housing issue and how rent is skyrocketing – THIS WILL NOT HELP. Out of the hotel 88 rooms and 45 apartments only 11 at below-market? That’s 8.27% – nothing should be approved until something else is figured out around low income housing. Look at what’s happening to SF – not only has it lost character but it’s now a city for the 1%.

    1. “Back in my day…” is pretty much your entire reasoning. Oh well. As they say in technology, “the future happens one funeral at a time”.

  21. So if we let them build all these monstrosities all the cars are going to magically disappear? The renderings are disingenuous.

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