Low-Key Extrovert

Los Angeles defers to its smaller neighbors to the north on few matters; green building innovations just happen to be among them. In the area of mass timber construction, the clear front-runner has been Portland, located in a state that is the largest lumber producer in the country. So perhaps fittingly, one of LA’s first signature mass timber buildings—843 North Spring, a mixed-use office project in Chinatown—is being completed by Lever Architecture, a firm with bases in both cities. The five-story structure reuses a large parking garage whose heavy concrete column grid has been replaced with a CLT and steel hybrid, providing warm surfaces and expansive offices that open via operable windows and cantilevered balconies to the lovely California weather. In the center, taking the place of the garage’s drive aisle, is a vertical garden atrium, designed by James Corner Field Operations, that originates with a ground-floor park and layers and shifts its way up via railing planters, vines, custom pots, and more.

“LA has an incredible legacy of design and architecture that’…

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