The Olympic Tower

The Olympic Tower, a 58-story high-rise building, will replace a longtime Downtown car wash and sit across from LA Live, providing Angelenos and visitors with a mixed-use development in the South Park area.

A 58-story high-rise redevelopment project across from LA Live will replace a longtime Downtown car wash, creating a hub for visitors, shoppers and Los Angeles residents to utilize.

The Olympic Tower, set to be a mixed-use development on the intersection of Olympic and Figueroa streets in the South Park area, will boast a square footage of over 700,000 and will stand 742 feet tall.

The near acre-sized lot has been home to the car wash since 1980 and was purchased in 2014 by local developer Ben Neman for $25 million. He has had plans for creating a mixed-use high-rise since the purchase.

City council unanimously approved the plans for the Olympic Tower on Dec. 1. The city’s approval comes after an appeal from UNITE HERE Local 11, a union representing workers in restaurants, hotels, airports, etc., was redacted upon a resolution between the union and developer.

Norberto Nardi, owner of Monrovia-based architecture firm Nardi Associates, is the designer and architect of Olympic Tower. Nardi said that a team, under the coordination of Nardi Associates, is proceeding to develop all of the construction documents so in the future it can proceed with the architecture of the property.

Nardi expects the process of securing building permits to take six to seven months.

“We are assuming that if everything goes well, we will be able to start construction at the end of 2022 or the beginning of 2023,” Nardi said.

The high-rise is expected to have three floors of commercial and retail space, six stories of office space, a conference center taking up a whole floor, 17 floors of hotel space, 24 floors of condominiums, multiple floors for parking, and a rooftop garden and lounge overlooking the city that will be accessible to hotel guests and residents.

Nardi emphasized not only the size of the high-rise but the aspects of it that make it unique in comparison to others Downtown. As the designer of the high-rise, Nardi refers to the project as a “tree,” or a “vertical city,” essentially relaying the message that the concept for the Olympic Tower deals with ecosystems, both within the building and outside, and their low degree of separation.

Elaborating and candidly expressing the concept of the high-rise, Nardi said the way the building is designed is very unusual in high-rises and that, ultimately, the concept is that there will not be as much separation between the public spaces of the building and the city in general.

The south-facing development has a slight bend, almost bowing toward neighboring Los Angeles landmarks like LA Live and Arena, formerly known as Staples Center. It, Nardi said, requires a “very sophisticated structural system.”

The structural system that Nardi is referring to is Olympic Tower’s structural support, which does not utilize columns and interior support but an exterior support resulting in a grid-like pattern that presents itself as an exoskeleton of the high-rise.

Nardi said the design of the building is attributed to the limited amount of lot space; however, the resulting design became very special.

By building the high-rise this way, “the building has a form that is bent throughout, with big openings. That’s why I say that this building is like a vertical tree bowing to LA Live or other entertainment centers,” Nardi said.

Another unique aspect of Olympic Tower is that walls will primarily be made of glass, along with greenery that will hug the outside of the double surface glass walls of the building on the upper levels.

Nardi elaborated on this aspect, which he said is a major feature of the Olympic Tower, which is the south-facing, atrium-like open “window,” Nardi said. The window will take up multiple floors on the upper levels of the high-rise where the condominium amenities and hotel levels are located.

“When you are inside of a high-rise, normally you are deprived of interacting with the city because you are contained by the facades of the building,” Nardi said.

“What I did here, from level 14 to level 35, I made a big opening like a huge window with no glass, where the people in the building can not only see the city but can be seen from the city,” he explained.

Nardi called the large opening on the side of the high-rise an “open garden,” and mesh with vines, railing and other components will serve as the only separation from those in the building to the public outside.

“If you are walking on the street and raise your eyes, you can see the activity in the building,” Nardi said about his vision for the high-rise, but for now, a one-story car wash reminiscent of an older, different Downtown Los Angeles awaits demolition and removal.