BASE Architecture award winning design leads the way…

BASE Architecture award winning design leads the way…


CURBED LA, puts BASE Architecture, Planning and Engineering 1st on list of  notable projects of black architects…

In making a map of Los Angeles highlighting buildings designed by black architects, architect Jason E. Morris discovered the body of work was smaller than he had hoped. Not only did African American architects lack professional opportunities—they weren’t credited for their contributions, says the AIA|LA, which produced the project with Gruen Associates and the Southern California chapter of the National Organization of Minority Architects.

Morris ultimately pinpointed 53 buildings of social, cultural, and historic importance standing today because of the contributions and leadership of black architects. The map was released this month to inspire the next generation of minority designers. “African American architects are here, and they’re doing good work, here, in LA,” Morris said.

To dive into the full map, click here black-architects-los-angeles-projects-map

Starting with BASE Architecture, Planning and Engineering who won the 43rd Annual Los Angeles Architectural Award for Mixed-Use design…In that spirit, we’re publishing 15 especially important buildings



Douglas F. Dollarhide Community Center

“This is a great recognition of hard work, we are honored to be on this list.” Stated by Michael Anderson, AIA. Elliot Barker, AIA, was the lead Architect for this project.

The original Compton Martin Luther King Jr., Transit Center opened in 1990 the same year LA’s first light rail transit line known as the Blue Line began operation. The MLK Transit Center serves as the transit station for the Blue Line connecting Compton to Long Beach and Downtown Los Angeles. In 2006 the City’s Redevelopment Agency received a grant from the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Agency (Metro) to expand and convert the existing Transit Center. The agreement with Metro and the City was to remain a transit center adding bus maintenance and fuel storage for buses; to make safe pedestrian crossings and to house the City’s Traffic Management and Operations Center (TMOC). The site was further complicated when the 150 unit Willow Walk family townhouse development sprang up on the adjacent north parcel of the existing Transit Center. The City was planning to build a new Senior Citizens Center on the adjacent site immediately east of the transit center.

BASE (Buildings, Architecture, Streets and Engineering) was selected by the City’s Public Works Department as the architect for the second transformation of the MLK Transit Center in late 2006.

Michael Anderson, the founder of BASE understood the fundamental value of great places, and the need to work with fellow citizens to shape the city’s future together, rather than imposing a singular vision from top down. “We recognize that great public spaces produce an energy and enthusiasm that spills over into surrounding areas”. By being conscious of this and planning for it from the start, place-makers can speed up the process of revitalization by making sure that the key sites within downtown complement each other and create a great regional destination.

BASE conducted a series of place-making workshops during the planning and design phases. “We knew we had to provide the citizens with better choices by showing them various options of what a transit center can be and how it can become a useable and positive focal point of their city.

The architects convinced City and eventually Metro officials to throw out the thinking behind the 2002 Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) and restart the planning process from scratch.  This included demolishing the existing outdated and underutilized Transit Center building entirely. We changed the long established bus routes, eliminated the bus maintenance and fuel components from the project, a use that did not fit well with the adjacent housing development.  The firm also introduced the notion of vacating the street Willowbrook East in favor of a pedestrian friendly plaza.

BASE persuaded City officials to place the new Senior Activity Center on the same lot as the Transit Center along with a new parking structure to be shared by patrons of both facilities.  This effectively exchanged the industrial use for the recreational use, thereby also concentrating the public uses on one contiguous piece of land.  Finally, Michael encouraged the City to sell the original site for the Senior Activity Center (across Tamarind) to Meta Housing, a renowned developer of high quality senior housing.  Meta recently completed constructing a 74–unit complex to complement the recently completed Compton Senior Activity Center nicely. BASE provided entitlement services, which enabled Meta to build the project.

The open plaza is embellished with 2 rows of 18 foot x 14-foot planter boxes with seven boxes in each row.  The planter boxes vary in height from 2 to 4 feet in height.  The planters closest to the tracks contain custom designed 12-foot tall letters that spell “COMPTON” and announce the City to the Blue Line train passengers.

Original concept was to develop City owned properties into multi-family housing and open green spaces.

To facilitate trouble-free bus movement and minimize conflicts between buses, automobiles and pedestrian circulation, the design included the realignment of the adjacent streets; Willowbrook East, Palmer and Tamarind.

Bus waiting areas for the eight bus bays are marked with 7 foot tall custom designed numerals.  These waiting areas are shaded and protected by tensile fabric canopies suspended from eleven rows of columns with 4.5’ foot diameter aluminum covers.  Each column has two computer controlled light bands that have the ability to change colors rhythmically or randomly.

At 5,680 square feet, the new MLK Transit Center building is one-fifth the size of the first building. The building contains only one leasable retail space (originally intended for Greyhound), utility rooms, security office, and bus driver/public restrooms and the all glass  TMOC control room on the first floor.  The TMOC, operations offices and administrative conference room are located on the second floor.  The entire north wall of glass faces downtown Los Angeles.  The building is clad in metal panels and the durable Ipe hardwood from Brazil.  The wood is used both as an exterior wall finish and as shade and glare control for the glass.

The building, plaza and the bus-bays were planned and designed with considerable forethought.  The land on the north end of the MLK structure was left fallow, to encourage future commercial development. The north side of the parking structure is a shallow depth lot that is candidate for mixed-use development that could include live-work units because it faces the residential complex.  The units could be designed to face onto a landscaped linear open recreational park or walking and bike path from which both residential complexes could benefit.

Separated by the 4-level 500 car parking structure at the eastern end of the lot facing Tamarind is the Compton Senior Activity Center.  It is a two-story, 29,000 square foot, U-shaped structure that was designed to house and facilitate various activities for Compton’s senior population.  The design program included a large assembly room, kitchen, lunch, computer, and sewing, ceramics, millinery, billiards and English 2nd language rooms.  There is also a reading lounge, conference room, operations offices and generous reception/lobby area.  Public functions are restricted to the ground level with semi-public functions gathered on the second.  The building was designed to maximize natural light in every room through the use of large expanses of glass.

Prior to opening of the Center the City of Compton decided to make the building a community center for citizens of all age groups to have access.

The design vocabulary initiated by the Transit Center is sustained with the Senior Center through the use of metal panels and Ipe hardwood.  The major difference is the color of the zinc panels and the fact that the hardwood is used primarily as an accent material.  The two structures are visually harmonious in their presentation to the citizens of Compton and its visitors.

Between the Transit Center and Senior Center is the Compton Parking Structure designed by BASE teamed with International Parking Design.

The goal was to upgrade and modernize the architecture in and around the Compton Transit Station and have the four projects act as a catalyst for future investment in downtown Compton.  It exemplifies Metro’s concept of Transit Oriented Development (TOD).  The Willow Walk 150 unit townhouse development, new MLK Transit Center, parking structure, Senior Activity Center and Meta Housing’s 74-unit senior projects all serve as a powerful focal point to draw both interest and investment to the area.  The increased investment could promote the development of housing aimed at moderate income families.  Diversity among income groups would be healthy for the City of Compton.

Another goal was changing the ‘culture’ and how the area around the Transit Center is perceived. It no longer invites unscrupulous activities.  It is now a bright, new collection that celebrate public gatherings and instills pride among residents along the way.


Douglas F. Dollarhide Community Center, Base Architecture, Compton, California, ultra-modern architecture, modern design, community center,

Credits: MLK Jr. Transit Center

ARCHITECT:  BASE. Michael Anderson, principal in charge; Elliot Barker, managing principal; Mike Huang, design  and project architect, Andrew Matsumoto, designer

ENGINEERS: John A Martin Associates (structural), Owen Group (mechanical, electrical and plumbing)

CONSULTANTS: L-SEED (landscape designer), Charles Strawater Landscape Architect

CLIENT: City of Compton, California

SIZE: 5,680 square feet (building only)

COST: $13.5 million


Credits: Compton Community Center:

DESIGN ARCHITECT:  BASE. Michael Anderson, principal in charge; Elliot Barker, managing principal; Mike Yee and Mike Huang, design  and project architect, Andrew Matsumoto, designer


ENGINEERS: John A Martin Associates (structural), Owen Group (mechanical, electrical and plumbing)

CONSULTANTS: L-SEED (landscape designer), Landscape Architect

CLIENT: City of Compton, California

SIZE: 29,000 square feet

COST: $11 million














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