It's No Puzzle
Pugh + Scarpa Architecture creates a perfect fit for Jigsaw in its new Los Angeles post-production office
Edie Cohen -- Interior Design, 5/1/2005 12:00:00 AM
Pugh + Scarpa Architecture is a veteran at pushing the creative envelope, especially when it comes to designing film-editing and production houses. In 1998, the architects were early users of shipping containers, transforming one of the industrial behemoths into a conference room at Reactor Films. More recently, they inserted translucent Dixie cups into holes on a backlit wall at Creative Domain.
After some 60 film-related projects, however, "it's difficult not to plagiarize yourself," says principal Lawrence Scarpa. But the architects did no such thing when they designed new facilities for Jigsaw, a post-production company that's worked on commercials for Hewlett-Packard, Honda, and Sprint, among others. "I implored Lawrence to do something different," recalls Jigsaw's owner, John Hopp, who was moving his company from nondescript offices in downtown Santa Monica to a 5,500-square-foot warehouse in West Los Angeles.
Cleanup came first. Brick walls and bow trusses were sandblasted, six skylights installed, and ducts removed "to get a nice raw space," says Scarpa. The challenge for Pugh + Scarpa was to turn this empty shell into a stimulating social environment that also provides the seclusion in which film editors need to work. His solution led to the majority of the $500,000 budget being spent on 20 percent of the space. And about $50,000 of that went into building a 2,000-square-foot pool in the middle of the studio. The 12-inch-deep "pond" contains a built-in circular waterfall that, in true Zen fashion, produces both visual and aural effects.
If it seems like Pugh + Scarpa has sacrificed floor space for aesthetics, think again. Almost 1,000 square feet of editing and production offices are housed in two large gray boxes that appear to float above the water. Although their curvaceous forms and sleek skin intentionally evoke sea mammals leaping from the pool, the office pods—one for Hopp, the other for his wife, executive producer Traci Meyer—are actually sheathed in lead. Ten-foot-wide rolls of the metal, each weighing 1,500 pounds, were applied like wallpaper to the structures' steel frames. '
But it's the end wall of each office that leaves visitors most agog: One is made of 3/8-inch-diameter clear acrylic beads, the other of Ping-Pong balls. "I was determined to give video editors natural light in a way that didn't create glare problems," explains Scarpa. "And I like using familiar objects in a completely different context," he continues. The beads and balls, sandwiched between two panes of glass, allow light to penetrate while giving it a pixilated quality that doesn't compromise computer-screen work. From inside the pods, the end walls read like perforated screens, simultaneously allowing visibility of the public spaces and a degree of privacy.
Most of the public zone is concentrated along the north side of the building, where Pugh + Scarpa situated the new entry. Contiguous reception and café areas are delineated by linoleum inset in the polished concrete floor. The architects placed the reception desk some distance from the front door, their ploy to ensure that visitors walk far enough into the studio to get the full wow factor. Scarpa's favorite furniture element is the lightweight seating poufs scattered throughout the public areas. "I'm not a big believer in immutable spaces," he adds.
Work zones, though, are set. Hopp and Meyer's pod offices are furnished with a custom sofa and a resurfaced steel desk, respectively. Other editors have enclosed offices on the west side of the building, where there's also a conference room. The east elevation comprises an unobstructed window wall; services are set on the south.
By day, Jigsaw's prize-winning interior resembles a sun-drenched playground, but professional fun and games often continue deep into the evening hours. Pugh+Scarpa built the owners a 1,500-square-foot mezzanine crash pad complete with a bed, small bath, and foosball table, for those 24-7 stretches.