Culver City, California
Eric McNevin, Mei Zhi Neoh, Hugo Ventura
Strait is the Gate introduces a new entrance to 8522 National Blvd, a cluster of industrial warehouse buildings now home to commercial creative office space. Originally, the main entrance was situated on National Boulevard, a busy thoroughfare in Culver City. Today, with less pedestrian traffic coming through the National entrance, an egress door opening onto a shared outdoor courtyard serves as a primary access point for tenants.
To accommodate this reversed configuration, a new helical structure threads into an existing exterior wall to mark a new entry. As the helix turns around its axis, each intersection with the wall results in a notch to receive the new steel structure. Within the new lobby, a sky-lit corridor brings pedestrian traffic—and sunlight—directly into the circulation route of the existing building.
As a spatial object, Strait is the Gate re-examines the orthogonal grid’s ordering and space-making limitations and offers an alternative ordering mechanism. Like Dancing Bleachers and the (W)rapper, Spiral applies an antithetical grid premise to a structural system, eschewing a conventional order of columns and beams for a variable curvilinear system.
Strait is the Gate was first built in 2010 as a temporary pavilion with the title Under Construction to represent Austria at the 12th Venice Biennale of Architecture. After the Biennale ended, the helical structure returned to Culver City and was placed in storage until the opportunity surfaced nearly a decade later to build a new entrance for 8522 National. Of the twenty original segments used in the Austrian Pavilion, eight were repurposed for the construction of Strait is the Gate, returning to their original function as a permeable installation to mark the new entrance 8522 National.