Editor’s note:The following letter was sent to the Planning Commission, Planning Department and to the city manager and attorney before Monday night’s Planning Commission meeting.
It’s awkward and somewhat uncomfortable for an architect to be openly critical of another project. However, I am very concerned about the proposed office building you are considering at your next hearing on May 17. I believe this would be the first commercial office building to be approved since Malibu’s incorporation. But if approved, there are some serious issues and precedents involved.
I have no problem with the addition of 9,707 square feet of office space-the applicant has that by right-although this building happens to measure 9,870 square feet, (over 1.7 percent more than the FAR allows). Although I feel this needs correction, I am much more concerned with the character and scale of the proposed building with regard to: the dangerous precedents it sets and the negative impact the design will have on a neighborhood of mixed commercial and residential buildings
With regard to the precedents:
1. There is a lack of commercial zoning code restrictions relative to the more defined residential guidelines. This lack of code protection and discretion was transferred to the commission by the requirement of obtaining CUP approval for all commercial projects. This gives you both the ability and the responsibility to put appropriate guidelines on the development.
2. The overall commercial design quality doesn’t particularly relate to Malibu or to its specific site, but rather can be found in “Anywhere, USA” and this is unfortunate.
With regard to the impact of this building on its mixed-use neighborhood, the scale of this building simply does not relate.
Both the effect and the actual building is just bigger than it needs to be, especially considering the precedent it sets in a mixed use neighborhood it will sit in. I hope this is not what you envision the size and character of commercial building in Malibu will be.
Fellow of the American Institute of Architects