Finally. After 39 years of wandering around Los Angeles and trying to convince its landlord to sell, SCI-Arc today announced that it has bought its building in LA’s Downtown Arts District. The 1,250 foot-long Santa Fe Freight Yard Depot building, a reinforced concrete structure designed by architect Harrison Albright, stretches seemingly forever along Santa Fe Avenue. Students like to bike or skateboard inside it to get to class.
The school moved to the former rail depot 10 years ago after a 2001 renovation by architect Gary Paige. The school’s opening came when building owner Meruelo Maddux Properties filed for bankruptcy—meaning it really needed the money. The school bought the property for $23.1 million. Other homes for the school have included Marina Del Rey and Santa Monica. But now it finally has a real home.
And their edgy, coarse and lively corner of downtown, as SCI-Arc Director Eric Owen Moss has pointed out, is where it’s always wanted to be. “SCI-Arc is absolutely committed to Downtown,” he told AN in a recent interview, adding that the area is a laboratory for architectural and urban development. “We are staying Downtown. Period.”
After years of trying, it looks like SCI-Arc is finally going to own its building in Downtown LA’s Arts District. According to the school the project should close escrow before this May. According to blogdowntown, the school will pay $23.1 million for the 100,000-square-foot building and its surrounding 4.75 acre lot. The deal had been held up because of property owner Meruelo Maddux’s continuing bankruptcy, but the company just settled with its debtor, Legendary Investors Group, which has pledged to honor the deal. “We don’t want to be renters anymore. SCI-Arc is absolutely committed to downtown,” SCI-Arc director Eric Owen Moss told AN when recently discussing the project. Interesting facts about the building: The quarter-mile-long Santa Fe Train Depot was converted into the school’s campus in 2000. Built in 1907, the depot was designed by Harrison Albright. At 1,250 feet long, if it were upended, it would be as tall as the Empire State Building.
The LA Downtown News and Curbed LA report that SCI-Arc (the Southern California Institute of Architecture) is having some serious issues with its current location in LA’s Arts District, and may be considering a move to Hollywood, the Wilshire Corridor, or the Westside. The school rents its massive train-depot-turned-school building from developer Meruelo Maddux, which apparently charges a pretty penny (and recently filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy). Their lease is up in one year. According to Jamie Bennett, SCI-Arc’s COO, the school has not yet decided on whether it will renew the lease, and wants a building of its own. “We will be operating in our own self-interest. We haven’t been unhappy down here in the Arts District. We’ve got flexibility in terms of our future and we have optimism about our future, but our future will include owning where we are,” he told the Downtown News. Stay tuned, because we know downtown doesn’t want to lose one the Arts District’s driving forces…