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Santa Monica’s Fairmont Miramar Taps Petronas Towers Architect for Redesign Project

Santa Monica Real Estate Company, Roque and Mark

Harding Larmore Kutcher & Kozal, LLP  law firm
Harding, Larmore Kutcher & Kozal, LLP

Pacific Park, Santa Monica Pier


By Jason Islas
Staff Writer

December 20, 2013 -- The architect who designed what were once the world’s two tallest buildings has been tapped to lead the Santa Monica Fairmont Miramar’s ambitious redevelopment project.

Owners of the Miramar announced Friday that they chose internationally renowned architect Cesar Pelli -- designer of the 1,500-foot-tall Petronas Towers in Malaysia, which stood as the world’s two tallest buildings until 2004 -- to design the 86-year-old hotel’s $255 million overhaul.
“(Cesar’s firm) Pelli Clarke Pelli presented some very compelling ideas for the new hotel during the selection process,” Alan Epstein, who represents Ocean Avenue LLC, told The Lookout Thursday.

Pelli, a native of Argentina, boasts copious awards for his lifetime of work, including the Aga Khan Award for Architecture for the Petronas Towers.

In 1991, the American Institute of Architects (AIA) included Pelli among the 10 most influential living American architects.

Pelli’s portfolio spans the globe, from the World Financial Center in New York and the Segerstrom Concert Hall to One Park West in Liverpool and the Tokyo American Club in Japan.

Pelli lived for many years in Santa Monica with his son, Rafael, who is also a partner in the firm, Epstein said.

Rafael Pelli said that he was excited to return to the bayside city for the project.

“Many of my fondest memories growing up nearby are of the area all around the Miramar -- Palisades Park, Third Street, the Pier,” said Rafael. “It is a special place that requires a special vision.”

Epstein said that it will take a few months before that special vision begins to take a specific shape.

“However, we need some time to develop and refine these ideas before they will be ready to present to the City and the community,” he said.

Epstein and his team have spent the last two years planning the overhaul of the two-acre campus north of Wilshire Boulevard on Ocean Avenue.

The most recent iteration of the proposed project would replace two of the hotels old buildings with three new buildings, including one that could rise higher than 300 feet and have as many as 120 condos.

Those condos and the proposed building height have riled some residents against the project. The Miramar’s neighbor, the 17-story Huntley Hotel, has bankrolled an expensive political campaign against the project.

Still, Epstein is optimistic that, with a renowned architect at the helm, the project will win the support of the community.

“Our goal has long been to return the Miramar to its rightful place as one of the greatest luxury hotels in Southern California, while increasing open space, protecting ocean views for the community and returning the Moreton Bay Fig tree to public view,” Epstein said, referring to the century-old tree on the Miramar’s campus.

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