Intelligent Design

With its sustainable, mixed-use community in Santa Monica, Cuningham Group Architecture is holding sway

Written by Jenn Thornton | Photos Courtesy of Cunningham Group

Fittingly, Santa Monica’s multi-family community, Sway, is exerting plenty of influence. Targeting LEED Certified Silver status, the project at 525 Broadway arrives on the Westside with bragging rights that start with prime proximity to the Pacific Ocean, Santa Monica Pier and the Expo Rail station; continue with 122 designer apartments; and conclude with SoCal’s tallest living green wall, ascending five stories. The place is flourishing.

Taking indoor/outdoor living to the nth degree, Sway is orientated around two lush exterior courtyards—one an oasis of calm, with a fireplace and a soaking tub; the other a community-centric social space including a zero-edge saltwater swimming pool and other enticements. Interior environments are just as alluring, with coastal modern apartments from 558 to 1,382 square feet, styled by Studio Collective, and packed stem to stern with the latest in luxury appointments. Included are six townhomes with Sixth Street entrances. Throw in 4,500 square feet of retail to share the address, and Sway is a case study in local urbanization— and a vibrant addition to the resuscitated scene on Broadway.



Developed by Alliance Residential, Sway is a product of its designer, Cuningham Group Architecture, a firm that began in Minneapolis before heading west (and East, launching offices in China and Seoul). At practice in Los Angeles since 1984, Cuningham Group is both consistent and prolific, approaching projects reaching into the realms of healthcare, hospitality, education and entertainment with a collaborative, sustainable approach that started with the foresight of the firm’s founder.

“Before it was popular—50 years ago, when John Cuningham founded the firm—Cuningham Group integrated sustainable principles into all its designs,” says Cuningham Group Principal Amelia D. Feichtner, AIA, LEED® AP BD+C. “We believe the success of every project must be evaluated at an environmental level. At the same time, we understand that any sustainable project must also do good business.”

Another of Cuningham Group’s rigorously\ architected triumphs is its base of operations, Hayden Place. Aiming for LEED Gold Certification, the thoughtfully concepted office is a tribute to the Cuningham Group culture, comingling an open floor plan, voluminous spaces with loads of natural light and smart technology. “The headquarters are set in the Hayden Tract of Culver City, which, block-for-block, holds probably more architectural landmarks than any other Southern California neighborhood (excluding Downtown L.A.),” offers Feichtner.



It is one thing to call Hayden Place, a “model of innovation,” which she confidently does, and another to actually qualify it as such. To this end, Feichtner adds, “Its lovely indoor garden and the repurposed shipping containers have appeared in design publications worldwide.”

Sway is garnering its own share of attention, setting the tone with the cultured yet environmentally concerned modern urbanism spreading like wildfire across the Westside. Cuningham Group’s proven aptitude for creating innovative, aesthetically rich and environmentally sound architecture is ideal for a Los Angeles in the midst of an artistic and innovative surge. “This is an incredibly exciting time to work in Los Angeles,” Feichtner says. “The city is quickly maturing, and offering adventurous new modes of living and transportation. It’s wonderful to be a part of it.”

And equally wonderful, one assumes, to help create it.

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