Webcor Builders – Hollywood Proper Residences

WebcorWebcor Builders is putting the finishing touches on a 21-story tower at a historic site in Hollywood where CBS had its broadcast and recording studios for decades.

By Russ Gager

Enthusiasts of mid-twentieth-century, old-time radio programs such as Jack Benny's “Lucky Strike Program,” Lucille Ball's “My Favorite Husband” and “The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet” might be familiar with the CBS studios in Hollywood from which they were broadcast. That site, now designated as a historic-cultural monument and named Columbia Square, is being transformed into a mixed-use media village and creative office complex encompassing an entire city block and emphasizing the entertainment and high-tech industries.

Head and shoulders above any of the eight buildings in the complex being developed by Kilroy Realty Corp. is a 21-story cast-in-place concrete and curtain-walled tower being erected by Webcor Builders. Hollywood Proper Residences at Columbia Square will include 200 residential units with one or two bedrooms and will feature four penthouse units with spectacular views of the Hollywood hills, downtown LA and the Pacific.Webcor info box 

The $78.8 million structure was substantially completed in May over a foundation and parking garage constructed by Hathaway Dinwiddie. Webcor built the tower from the ground up. Amenities for the residences and hotel include a ground-floor restaurant, a pool and a lounge/restaurant on the rooftop and a fitness center.

“We’re still finishing out the restaurants, so the units and the common areas were substantially complete in May,” Senior Project Manager Cicely Rice forecasts.

Locating a pool that is 12 feet wide and 52 feet long on the rooftop of a high-rise structure required extra reinforcement for the weight. “We actually did a stainless steel liner for the pool instead of the traditional Gunnite and then heavily reinforced the beams that create the vault in which the stainless steel liner is seated,” Rice explains.

The bottom surface of the pool was thicker and more heavily reinforced than typical floors, and the upturned beams also were heavily reinforced around the perimeter of the pool. For seismic resistance, a stout moment frame is installed in the tower, shear walls are several inches thick to resist the twisting motion that can occur during seismic events.

Self-Performed Concrete

Webcor Builders – which is functioning as the general contractor on the project – self-performs the concrete on most of its projects, and the Hollywood Proper Residences at Columbia Square was no exception. “At Webcor, we started out as a concrete company,” Rice explains. “We self-perform concrete on our projects, even on ones for which we are not the general contractor. Erecting the structure is one the key critical paths of the project, so self-performing those related activities puts us in a position of setting the pace for the overall project.”

Rice estimates that more than 30 subcontractors worked on the tower. The mechanical, electrical and plumbing subcontractors were in a design/assist position, while other subcontractors, such as those providing the curtain wall and the fire alarm, were full design/build.

Rice notes that keeping current with local building and fire codes is an ongoing challenge. “Amendments to the codes are being adopted on a continual basis. Several have been enacted since the code under which our project was permitted. It’s been a great learning experience for our current and upcoming projects.

An example is the change in the code is for the rooftop helipads that are required on high-rises for use by fire department helicopters during emergencies. “On our previous projects, the helicopter landing pad had to be 50 feet by 50 feet,” Rice recalls. “On this project, because of recent updates in the code, we got a modification to build a 24-foot by 30-foot tactical landing facility.

Spaced Out

As with many urban projects, space was at a premium for construction of the hotel and residences. “This is a tight site with limited use of the public right-of-way,” Rice says. “We only had partial street closures available because it’s a very busy urban area. The city didn’t allow for full street closures on this particular block, so that was always challenging, too.

“We’d have to do separate permitting whenever we had to bring in a crane or require a full street closure,” she continues. “We had to work with the city whenever we needed to close the street on a temporary basis. There was a lot of coordination and communication with the city and stakeholders affected by the street closure, such as nearby residences and businesses.”

Many of the energy-efficient features specified in LEED certifications have been adopted by the California building code, Rice says. These include materials and woodworking that use low amounts or no volatile organic compounds and no formaldehyde. Plumbing fixtures are low-flow, and the residential units have individual HVAC units that use variable refrigerant flow to save energy. The building management system presets the HVAC units for efficiency and allows modification within a zone of efficiency.

Most of Webcor’s projects are in California. “We’re very heavily busy in the Bay Area and down here in LA,” Rice says. “We have a little bit of work in San Diego and a Hawaii office.”

Rice attributes the success of the Hollywood Proper Residences at Columbia Square – which has not had a lost-time accident – to its team of architectural firms that work on the entire complex of buildings using BIM. Webcor worked with GBD Architects on the residential tower, for which the firm is the administrative architect. The other firms are executive architect House and Robertson Architects Inc., which is responsible for the entire campus, and Rios Clementi Hale Studios, the design architect for the entire campus. “GBD is a good hands-on, collaborative architectural firm,” she says. “We also have very good subcontractors who take pride in their work, so the quality level is exemplary on this project.”

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