A ‘Shore’ Success Once More

Annenberg Community Beach House

Everything old is new again — at least, everything that’s supposed to be — at this historic home where William Randolph Hearst and Marion Davies entertained Hollywood’s rich and famous in the glam decades of the 1930s and ‘40s. At its peak of popularity and myth, the 110-room home featured tennis courts, guesthouses, and an ornate swimming pool whose deck and staircases were made of imported marble.

In its next incarnation, the home became Oceanhouse, a luxury hotel that had a limited-membership beach club. Eventually, the main mansion was demolished, the 1994 Northridge Earthquake destroyed or severely damaged most of the site’s structures and no fix was in immediate sight.

Then, in 2005, the Annenberg Foundation generously committed funds to helping the City of Santa Monica restore the beach house as a public facility.

The renovation was a Design-Build Partnership between Frederick Fisher and Partners Architects and Charles Pankow Builders. Adams Morioka Design and Weidner Architectural Signage were responsible for the signage and graphics.

The client was the City of Santa Monica.

The vision for the Annenberg Community Beach House was for it to evolve as a series of indoor/outdoor, formal/informal recreation and event spaces that would be woven through the site. Today, the primary organizing device is a concrete wall that serves a backbone to the disparate elements of the project and as a sound buffer to the adjacent highway. To suggest a patina of the past, the wall is subtly stained with green stripes to suggest beach awnings. The new buildings and landscape elements of the project were designed to create a public gateway to the beach, an icon for the site’s history and a framework for a variety of community uses.

The objective was to assist the design firm with an upbeat signage program that complemented both the literal sunniness of the site and its historical significance.

The challenge was dealing with the human element — curious kids! — as well as the environmental issues of wind, salt, sand and UV light.

Rick and his team know how to interact with high concept signage and graphics consultants and have delivered superb results.

Rick Stupin, AIA, Project Sponsor at Charles Pankow Builders

Annenberg Community Beach House – Santa Monica, CA

Charles Pankow Builders, Ltd. & City of Santa Monica

Adams Morioka