RALEIGH STUDIOS CAFE
Our initial exploration for the design of a new restaurant within an existing core and shell building for Raleigh Studios in Manhattan Beach revealed an opportunity to question the way signs and symbols impact one's experience of a place.
Though the function of a sign is to organize, direct and identify, our strategy was to explore alternative methods beyond obvious labeling, by relying on the articulation of the architectural components themselves to perform as the restaurant signage. These components define the experience of the restaurant's inhabitation and use.
The building is located within the protected gates of an entertainment-related studio lot which otherwise primarily consists of sound stages and production offices. The existing building envelope is long and narrow with the primary entry occurring directly in the middle of the long dimension. Also existing is a mechanical core, elevator and elevator lobby located directly in the center of the space. As a result, the given core and shell diagram divides the building into two distinct spaces flanking the central core.
Rather than providing hosted seating and table service, the restaurant offers food selection by way of a "servery". A customer can choose food made to order from various food stations - grill, deli, specialties, entrees, coffee, etc- pay at a cashier station, and proceed to the dining area. The dining area offers various types of seating including general dining tables, express dining tables, and a private dining room. Supporting these customer spaces is the service component: the kitchen, a systematically organized layout for receiving, storing and preparing food.
Our solution was the creation of various project components that served both as functional elements for the restaurant facility as well as indicators, or signs, as to how one should use and experience the space.
1. Curving Wall:
Our initial gesture was to divide the service areas from the consumer areas as by the insertion of a single element - a long curving wall. This wall, while acting as a divider, also acts as the connector between the two distinct sides of the building. In effect, an arrow directing circulation.
2. Wrapped Core:
Our second gesture was to transform the central core by enhancing its presence with forms that further identify this component as a central object around which one should circulate.
3. Faceted Wall:
This element, the first viewed upon entry, acts as both a portal to the elevator lobby as well as a directional arrow pointing the way to the food stations at the north end of the facility.
4. Hood at Grill:
As the stations for food are organized along one single curving line, the floating steel identifies a point of destination thereby bringing people deep into the space.
5. Tray Rail and Sneeze Guard:
These elements signify the limits of the customers' space, divide the customer from the servers and direct the intended flow to the cashier. After payment, the procession to the dining areas at the south side of the building can continue.
One's inhabitation is directed and organized by these signs. In this way, the facility as a whole becomes an indication to be perceived by the senses.