Pen Factory

  • Location
    Santa Monica, CA
  • Completion Date
  • Size
    <1 acre
  • Team
    Architect: Skidmore, Owings & Merrill
    Civil Engineer: KPFF Consulting Engineers
    Irrigation Designer: Sweeney & Associates
    Real Estate Investment Manager: Clarion Partners
  • Photography
    Benny Chan
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A former PaperMate pen manufacturing facility in Santa Monica is repurposed with a modern identity. To reclaim the site for pedestrian access, the building fills a 20’ setback from the main street with a new dense green landscape hedge and screen wall. The landscape frame serves a dual purpose – creating privacy and protection from the inside to the outside and announcing a more human-centered workplace from the main urban approach.

To bring multiple tenants together in the open and flexible work environment, a casual California palette of planting and materials is brought together in practical gathering spaces. Emphasizing strong indoor/outdoor connections within the tight site constraints, the bold geometry of the building is echoed with the exterior use of wood, precast concrete, pavers, and plating. In a nod to its history, the facade features bold patterns that evoke vibrant pen lines, with landscape that fills in the lines between the street and the building. Notably, an interior courtyard is highlighted by large, mature trees that divide the building into two sections. Current parking requirements are creatively met through a below-grade garage using stackers, which frees up the areas closest to the building with spaces for people.

Opening the building to the street with curated planting immediately changes the character of the former industrial development.