STUDIOS was selected to assist Eataly in their aggressive, multi-city North American roll-out of a European-style food-centric market and restaurant concept. When they leased 70,000-square-feet at the Westfield Century City Mall in Los Angeles, the enormous space had the look and feel of your typical big-box store. The main design challenge at this particular location was striking the perfect aesthetic balance of old-world Italy with a modern, Southern California twist. Eataly’s marketplaces are designed to mimic the experience of walking through tight Italian streets before opening up into a vibrant piazza, so it was imperative that the program layout and built interior architecture provide a variety of scales in order to obstruct a direct end-to-end view across the space. Though the program is organized to be comfortable for visitors, there are also pinch points that build upon the idea of the piazza, which is the spiritual heart of the Eataly store. In L.A., the piazza also physically anchors the experience, spanning across three-floors, at the highly visible corner of Santa Monica Blvd and Avenue of the Stars. Visible from opposite ends of the main retail level, two large, prefabricated, spiral staircases allow guests to ceremoniously travel between floors, while coordinated openings allow glimpses of the energy and excitement beyond.
The market’s wild growth in popularity required the design to call for the specification of durable materials and products, capable of receiving thousands of visitors a day. The quality and tone of the finishes and lighting are all fine-tuned to complement the food and accentuate the cooking on display, and though almost every inch of this facility is a commercial kitchen, it doesn’t appear so. With several cooking venues on display with access from all sides, we were heavily involved in the layout of cooking equipment to maintain access, while effortlessly balancing the lab-like technical support spaces with the theatrical preparation of food.
Eataly’s owners are committed to an environmentally friendly business model through education, promotion, and practice of local food sourcing and sustainable cooking, at each store location. With the severe drought conditions of Southern California, ownership was compelled to dedicate this store’s sustainability mission to water conservation. Eataly L.A. now has the City’s first certified gray water reclamation system, which collects and treats the graywater generated on-site, then re-uses it to supplies water to the lavatories and on-site irrigation. Further emphasizing Eataly’s attitude towards the importance of education, the gray water system was designed to be put on display at the main entry for both showcasing the impressive technology, and its use as a visual aid and educational tool. The system has two 5,000 gallon tanks, with carefully curated pumps and piping runs, which are framed with graywater irrigated interior planters, stretching two-stories to the level above. The irrigation continues on, running to the roof, feeding a mature olive tree that was boxed & saved during the original site demolition. Eataly L.A., like other locations, is LEED Gold Certified.