Medallion 2.0: Four New Towers Slated to Break Ground in 2015 in Downtown LA

Designed by Kevin Tsai Architecture, Medallion 2.0 is slated to break ground in 2015 at 3rd and Main St (Photo: Kevin Tsai Architecture)

Designed by Kevin Tsai Architecture, Medallion 2.0 would add up to 400 new rental units, a theater, more retail space, over half an acre of green space. The project is slated to break ground in late 2015 at 3rd and Main St (Photo: Kevin Tsai Architecture)

A lot of exciting developments have been happening at the Medallion Apartments recently in the Old Bank District at 4th and Main. The mixed-use complex with 96 apartments for rent — taking up the entire half block of 4th Street from Main to Los Angeles St — added a brand new vegan restaurant called Dr J’s Vibrant Cafe with Sushi Zo opening later this year. In addition, six more indie restaurants, an indoor farmers’ market, and a slew of artisanal eatery shops (under the expert guidance of John Edwards of Raw Inspiration) are slated to open on the lower level next year that will literally transform the Medallion into a foodie hub. But all that Medallion fun doesn’t end there because something even larger looms on the horizon code named “Medallion 2.0.”

Medallion 2.0 will be the second phase for Medallion owner and developer Saeed Farkhondehpour. However, because the downtown momentum has been steadily increasing over the last few years (downtown is actually becoming a 24-7 livable community, for instance), Medallion 2.0 will be larger and more audacious than even the first phase. Instead of only 96 apartments in two six-story buildings, the new project may include up to 400 units in four separate 13-story towers designed by Downtown LA-based Kevin Tsai Architecture.

Not only would 400 new units (built to condo specs) add a substantial injection of energy to 3rd and Main, activating what is now a dead and derelict corner, the complex would include 28,000 square feet of retail space fronting both Main and 3rd Street, a 24,000 square foot theater (Alamo Drafthouse Cinema is still in lease negotiations), a potential small boutique hotel, a 25,000 square foot public green space, and a new 5-level parking structure with 10,000 square feet of retail fronting Los Angeles St.

One of the most interesting design features of Medallion 2.0 is a diagonal sky bridge that links all four towers together by “cutting through” the 10th floor, which will be the amenity floor for residents. The sky bridge has symbolic meaning to Tsai who views the towers as an “urban community” akin to the flavor of Asian cities like Hong Kong. Each tower on the 10th floor will contain a different residential amenity including a community room, fitness center, and even a pool. The sky bridge will allow residents to hop between towers accessing these amenities.

Tsai sees Downtown LA as the antithesis to suburban Los Angeles. Being from Taipei, Taiwan — one of the most densely urban cities on the planet — Tsai believes Downtown LA is where Los Angeles will get a chance to embrace density. “I want to bring that flavor of Hong Kong and Taiwan to my design with the Medallion project,” Tsai tells me. “That sense of urban community.”

Developer Farkhondehpour is planning to break ground on Medallion 2.0 in late 2015 after all of phase one is completed, which now includes all the eateries planned for the lower level. A master EIR for both phases one and two was completed back in 2006.

All renderings courtesy of Kevin Tsai Architecture.

Four towers linked by a sky bridge on the 10th floor (Photo: Kevin Tsai Architecture)

Four towers linked by a sky bridge on the 10th floor

An aerial view shows the public green space that would be on top of the proposed theater roof (Photo: Kevin Tsai Architecture)

An aerial view shows the public green space that would be on top of the proposed theater roof

A view of Medallion 2.0 facing 3rd Street with a revamped public triangle plaza on the corner (Photo: Kevin Tsai Architecture)

A view of Medallion 2.0 facing 3rd Street with a revamped public triangle plaza on the corner

A 5-level parking structure with 10,000 square feet of retail front Los Angeles Street will be built adjacent to the towers

A 5-level parking structure with 10,000 square feet of retail fronting Los Angeles Street will be built adjacent to the towers

24 Responses to Medallion 2.0: Four New Towers Slated to Break Ground in 2015 in Downtown LA

  1. I find it a bit audacious that the developers are calling this a “Vibrant” community while also including surface and above grade parking. They better be putting retail along the sidewalk, or this development will be a big failure. We should be mandating below-grade parking or none at all in all our downtown developments. Have we not learned anything from the past 40 years of urban development?

  2. @Lester – did you actually read the story? The development will have 28,000 square ft. of retail space. While I don’t necessarily love parking structures, the one proposed here will contain 10,000 sq. feet of retail space, which allows for street level activation.

  3. Wow, this will be great for that end of Main!!

  4. It’s a shame that the theater and green space all look like they’re going to be hidden away from the street, with the main entrance either through the residential buildings or the parking lot. Green space that is hidden away from the public tends to feel empty and desolate, even if it is legally open to everyone.

    I would have hoped that the theater would be right on Main St, to start creating a new sort of “theater row” with the Downtown Independent just up the block.

    But maybe the theater has a front entrance on either Main or 3rd, and it will draw big crowds to hang out on the grass pre- or post-movie?

  5. I like how the Civic Center, Little Tokyo, & the Arts District are all shaping up to be a pretty seamless urban experience in terms of walk ability. I could actually see the areas north of 4th Street as far East as Central being Gentrified. Skid row will probably one day be surrounded on all sides by hipsters.

  6. ^ I see L.A.’s Skid Row becoming akin to San Francisco’s Tenderloin neighborhood. Meaning a rather dilapidated, with a higher concentration of homeless and mentally ill, surrounded by gentrifying/mixed/diverse neighborhoods.

  7. Antonette DeVito

    Sky bridges disconnect the community from the street. Not necessary. Not good.

    • For what it’s worth, the sky bridge is meant only for residents to access the 10th floor amenities conveniently, which include the community room, fitness center, and pool. Sometimes these amenities are incorporated on the 2nd floor or basement for most residential high-rises with a hallway that cuts through a podium, for example, which is just essentially a lower bridge. This is just up higher on the 10th floor. It won’t really have a negative impact on pedestrian street life because it’s meant only for residents to access their own building’s amenities.

    • @Antonette – the skybridge here connects residents internally to building amenities like the pool and gym. If they want to access all of the ground floor retail and the surrounding neighborhood, they still have to leave the building and access via the street. This isn’t the same as skybridges connecting separate buildings like we see in the financial district with the Bonaventure Hotel and City Natl. Plaza for example.

  8. The sky bridge isn’t a big deal. I’m more disappointed with the parking garage.

  9. I’m happy to see a residential mixed-use project in downtown that isn’t Type 5 construction and is taller than 5-7 stories. 14 stories is very compatible with the heights of many buildings in the adjacent historic core, as it was the maximum building height in LA until the 1960s (the exception being City Hall). I’m not crazy about the parking structure configuration along both 3rd and Los Angeles streets, or its awkward (lack of) integration with the architecture of the towers, but the project appears to be in the early stages of concept design so it will probably be better resolved as the design progresses. Plus, right now the site is a parking lot so this is a huge huge improvement. Perhaps one day parking won’t be required or desired for projects in downtown like in many other cities, and the whole issue of surface vs above ground vs underground parking will become irrelevant.

  10. Medallion 1.0 had a weird design in some ways, so I’m not surprised that 2.0 is odd as well. It’s a bummer about the parking structure for sure, and I wish the theater were street facing. But it’s not stucco, looks kind of cool and there’s a lot of retail (let’s hope it is laid out better than 1.0). It will also help connect northwards. My biggest disappointment is the timeline. We’ll be seeing in this in like 2018.

  11. This is hands down an absolutely horrible looking building, completely lacking any soul, class, or good styling. Just the sort of dribble one could expect from “architects” these days really. The surprise here though is that they managed to design something that is more crap than medallion 1 and new genesis combined.

    Also can someone explain whats up with these stupid windows that dont line up? It is the sloppiest looking garbage ever. Its as though they took a drawing a 5 year old did and decided to make it legit.

  12. I actually like the design. The “misaligned” windows give it a visual appeal. But it does definitely upstage the original Medallion phase 1

  13. Looks ugly – some of the upper floors look like prisons. If they build it, I expect it will have a short life as architecture trends change.

  14. Why all the complaining? It’s a parking lot now. It might not be perfect but what is. Enjoy new development in DTLA. It only improves our neighborhood.

  15. It’s a modern project building. I feel sorry for the ones that have a view of another window. Do those suites come with binoculars. I guess you can have a little fun with one of those windows.

  16. Unoriginal and unimaginative– Check out Steven Holl’s ‘Linked Hybrid’ and MIT’s Simmons Hall to see how its done. The Main St facade looks soul-less and monolithic. Basically, we get two shallow textures applied to opposite ends of a box. Instead of apartments facing narrowly across from each other as proposed, the massing can be arranged to have a larger percent facing the open space.

  17. This looks like exactly what it is, cheap cynical modernism drawn to attract people easily wowed by shiny things with hard angles and unecessary curves and cyclical lighting. Just what we need in DTLA, a hi-tech prison cube. (Now if this is the new jail, I take all this back) How about stepping back from the despotic and egoistic architecture that has polluted our cities in the last several decades and build something that will actually look somewhat passable in 10 years? If this disaster gets built (which I doubt it will be), it belongs HERE: http://www.kunstler.com/eyesore.html

  18. Hard to know where to start other than a wish it never gets built. I feel like I’m looking at renderings of a project built in 1965. This is horrible. A mess in every single way. Now what exactly are the redeeming values of this thing?

  19. This solution, with it’s mid block greenery essentially turns its back to the street, particularly the storied intersection of Third & Main. One of the foremost legends of the nation’s Civil War had its genesis in the small triangle at the southeast corner (Lady Bird Johnson dedicated this green space when she was in the White House); Clarence Darrow was arrested here in connection to the trial of the McNamara brothers for their having bombed the L.A. Times; this intersection was the birthplace of commercial cinema in the western United States (The Electric Theater, 1902) effected by one legendary entrepreneur from Waco named Thomas Lincoln Tally; Indeed, the remains of the first building constructed for cinema (The Wonderland Theater, 1910) in the western U.S. still stands at the northeast corner. But more than all of this, there remains the memory of Winfield Scott Hancock who once lived here, played the most decisive role on the Union side in the war 150 years ago, who reaffirmed the nation’s tradition of civilian control of the military, who was nominated for president by the Democratic party and lost the 1880 presidential election by the narrowest vote count in U.S. history, who strongly objected to the conviction of Mary Surratt for supposedly conspiring to assassinate president Lincoln, yet he had to preside over her execution, who was the greatest warrior in U.S. history, who eventually stood nose to nose with Roman Nose, the greatest warrior of the Sioux Nation on the western plain of Kansas.

    If ever public memory needs to be accounted for by an urban design proposal anywhere in L.A., it is truly this singular location. Everyone should read Michael Shaara’s Pulitzer Prize winning novel ‘The Killer Angels’ or see the 1993 movie ‘Gettysburg’ and they will begin to understand.

  20. “Being from Taipei, Taiwan — one of the most densely urban cities on the planet — Tsai believes Downtown LA is where Los Angeles will get a chance to embrace density. “I want to bring that flavor of Hong Kong and Taiwan to my design with the Medallion project,” Tsai tells me. “That sense of urban community.”

    Sorry I don’t want to live in Hong Kong. Terrible urban planning!

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