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Plans to redevelop William Pereira’s former MWD complex on Sunset inch forward

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The landscape architect behind New York’s High Line has signed onto the project

Concrete screens once covered the MWD buildings, but they have already been stripped.
Elizabeth Daniels

Fans of prolific modernist architect William Pereira will be disheartened to hear the former Metropolitan Water District campus he designed on Sunset Boulevard is inching closer to demolition.

Developer Palisades Capital Partners, LLC announced today that it has hired design firms Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP and landscape architects James Corner Field Operations to design a mixed-user that will replace the Pereira buildings, which were most recently used as part of a mega church, Holy Hill Community Church.

Totally vacant for a few years now, the campus is located on the eastern edge of Echo Park, at 1111 Sunset Boulevard, just before Beaudry Avenue in a pocket called Victor Heights.

The Los Angeles City Council’s Cultural Heritage Commission determined last September that Pereira’s buildings had been altered to the point that they did not qualify for landmark status. That decision paved the way for the wrecking ball.

Brian Falls, Palisades’s vice president of development, says his company has not yet finalized what they will put on the 5.5-acre site, but given the region’s housing crisis, it will very likely include housing.

The campus, pictured here poking above pam trees, at 1111 Sunset Boulevard is on the eastern edge of Echo Park.
Elizabeth Daniels

He described the project as a “new urban community” that will also feature public space of some kind.

“I don’t think our intention is to create a closed-off environment. We’re trying to make a great public space. We’re trying to do great architecture,” he said.

Corner’s best-known projects include the High Line in New York City, Chicago’s Navy Pier, and, much closer to home, Santa Monica’s Tongva Park.

Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, or SOM, is one of the biggest architecture firms around. Its design director, José Palacios, said in a statement: “At the heart of this project is a desire to reflect the spirit and the history of this property through a modern, forward-thinking lens that embraces the ... site’s adjacency to Chinatown, Bunker Hill, Echo Park and the Civic Center.”

The buildings that will be torn down are connected to another Pereira building that has been converted into an apartment tower called The Elysian. It’s under separate ownership and will remain standing.
Elizabeth Daniels

Palisades still has a lot of details to flesh out, but Falls says he expects plans to be filed with the city by the end of the year.