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Studio One Eleven Weighs In On The Evolution Of Downtown Long Beach

Downtown Long Beach is experiencing rapid and transformative urbanization that has the potential to compromise the vibrant community’s unique character.

But the people at Studio One Eleven are optimistic about how recent and upcoming changes can enrich downtown’s unique qualities.

A Long Beach-based architecture, landscape and urban design practice committed to projects that are sustainable and people-centered, Studio One Eleven partners with developers and community organizations to design housing, retail, office and community-oriented projects. We looked to its team for expert insights into the future of Downtown Long Beach.


What trends do you see shaping the city?

Long Beach is realizing the importance of creating vitality in its downtown, and they understand how residential density, daytime employment, public space, safety and event programming all work together to achieve that goal.

As with many cities, there’s a boom of infill mixed-use private developments, but that is being matched with the creation of open space and mobility enhancements, making the city’s public realm more livable and attractive.

Downtown’s retail scene is undergoing a transformation as well, as some older shopping centers and districts are being revived with a mix of uses and tenants responding to the desires of new residents and visitors. We’re also seeing the revitalization of several older structures that are preserving the city’s built heritage and unique sense of place.

What kind of development is still needed, and are developers and local government delivering it?

To ensure DTLB’s communities remain diverse, Studio One Eleven is partnering with the city, nonprofit organizations and local developers to deliver a mix of low-income housing and market-rate construction.

Developers can fill underutilized areas with a range of mixed-use projects to create more vibrant urbanism in DTLB. Through retail and other community amenities at the ground level, these new developments can activate streets and craft a more animated city.

As an example, Studio One Eleven recognized an underutilized area in DTLB at 4th and Linden, where we helped initiate the development of the East Village Creative Office. This led to a partnership with developers to design adjacent façades and a parklet. The phased redevelopment of the area has led to an active street and energetic community asset. We are now working to further develop the area by designing a new housing component.

In addition, Studio One Eleven is moving offices to 3rd Street and Long Beach Boulevard, renovating an empty Nordstrom Rack into a creative office space. Our offices will become an anchor tenant to the center (shown above), driving new retail and future redevelopment in the heart of DTLB. We are currently working to redesign the central promenade and façades to accommodate new tenants, creating a retail center that addresses the type of development still needed in the area.

What do you think makes Long Beach unique?

Studio One Eleven believes Long Beach has unique possibilities for growth, given it’s one of the only waterfront metropolises in California between San Francisco and San Diego. Unfortunately, the current connection between the downtown and the waterfront is marred by impenetrable buildings and inhospitable streets. Rethinking the physical connections to the waterfront will be the next large-scale planning effort in the city, with both a Waterfront and Queen Mary task force starting to analyze issues and opportunities.

Combined with efforts to restore the lower portion of the LA River as well as bring back natural surf to Long Beach harbor, the city is poised to be one of the most desirable urban locations in Southern California.

As Long Beach continues to grow, Studio One Eleven feels it should remain true to the distinct flavor of the city. Community involvement and a broad range of developments and planning moves are key to ensuring Long Beach realizes its potential.

Studio One Eleven founding principal Alan Pullman will be sharing his insight on the development of Downtown Long Beach during Bisnow's Future of Long Beach event tomorrow. You can join the conversation by purchasing tickets here and learn more about Studio One Eleven by visiting its website here.