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Out's Guide to Hayden Tract, L.A.'s New Hip Design Epicenter

Hayden Tract

Courtesy of Katie Gibbs Photo.

Six miles from the houses teetering on precarious ground in the Hollywood Hills, roughly the same distance from the sandy, cigarette-butt-littered Venice beach, and only a half hour by light rail from downtown Los Angeles, there’s Hayden Tract, a neighborhood once known chiefly for its sense of architectural adventure. The neighborhood covers just a few blocks of Culver City, but a slew of curious buildings, experimentally revamped by architect Eric Owen Moss starting in 1986, can be found within the parcel of land. In 2016, on a drive to the nearby office of, say, fashion brand the Elder Statesman, the Moss constructions would cause a double take.

One building looks as though a large boulder had been dropped from the sky and found its resting place behind bulging windows. Another is descriptively named the Waffle. Moss’s architectural wonders — there are 31 in total — warrant a tour in their own right, but this spring brings another compelling reason to pay a visit to Hayden Tract: Platform, a collection of one-of-a-kind fashion boutiques, design shops, and restaurants.

Frustrated with the drab state of retail in Los Angeles, and fueled by their youthful brio, partners David Fishbein and Joseph Miller have created Platform as an antithesis to the familiar outdoor malls found in places like San Diego, Newport Beach, and Los Angeles. “We wanted to create a place that was not only neighborhood-serving but also one that people from all over the city could come to and experience,” says Fishbein.  “It’s one of the most central locations in L.A.: 10 minutes south of Rodeo [Drive] and Beverly Hills, 10 to 15 minutes from Venice, 20 minutes from West Hollywood and downtown.”

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In 2010, when their company, Runyon Group, brought the lot that would become Platform, it housed a used-car dealership. Instead of erecting a hyper-modern glass box, as others might have done, Runyon took inspiration from the neighborhood’s industrial history, bringing in the Culver City-based architectural firm Abramson Teiger to elevate the existing structures without alienating the Hayden Tract history. Once the design had been settled on, the Runyon Group set out to curate the tenants.

 

For foodies looking for options beyond the standard chains there is Cannibal, a whole-animal-butchery-style restaurant; the trendy coffee chain Blue Bottle; the cold-pressed juice joint Juice Served Here; the salad spot Sweetgreen; the taqueria Loqui (which originated as a pop-up at San Francisco’s celebrated Tartine Bakery); and the Brooklyn-born Van Leeuwen ice cream. Former Bloomingdale’s men’s fashion director Josh Peskowitz opened the doors of his much-anticipated menswear venture, Magasin, there in March. Platform is also the home of the first North American flagship of the luxury eyewear brand Linda Farrow (known for its collaborations with Dries Van Noten and the Row).

Others with a presence there include Parabellum, Aesop, Tom Dixon, Curve, the flower shop Floral Art, One Grand Books, and SoulCycle (the first to officially open amid construction). Design comes into play throughout, as in the Tom Dixon store, but particularly in the Venice artisan-produced, exclusive Platform collection furniture custom-designed by Ilan Dei, both on display (and for sitting on) throughout the retail hub, and available for sale. There are also plans for a private urban garden by Elysian Landscapes on the corner. From early-morning workouts and coffee to afternoon shopping and evening cocktails, Platform has the capacity to be abuzz the entire day.

In a few months, the light rail, its station directly across the street from Platform, will have a route in service that heads in one direction to Santa Monica, and in the other, to downtown L.A. — if only Angelenos would actually jump on it. Fishbein and Miller have purchased surrounding buildings to ensure another developer doesn’t encroach and “put something awful in,” Fishbein says. To accessorize their creation, they’ve commissioned artist Jen Stark to paint a permanent installation on one of the buildings. It ever so cleverly, if inadvertently, is reflected in the windows of the Platform building just opposite. If, after you’ve visited Moss’s adjacent marvels, the chic shops, delicious food, and spin class don’t immediately draw you in to Platform, the vibrating rainbow melt of Stark’s mural will. 

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