Like other portions of the Citadel in L.A., the outlet center evolved from “endless redesigns”. Stripped to its bare bones, the center consists of three simple wood-framed buildings sheathed in stucco. Within, many of the tenant spaces are partially unfinished, allowing mechanical and structural elements to provide visual interest. Outside, exterior wall planes are skewed to distort and create different perspectives. Flat, stucco colonnades add another layer of incident to the space, while bright colors, fountains and landscaping create a festive air.
Although the center’s design schematics were prepared by Sussman/Prejza, Nadel executed its production drawings, making the architect an arbitrator between design architect and contractor. “HCB would tell Nadel that we couldn’t afford this or that and we’d be asked to make changes,” Vazquez said. “For instance, the shops’ exteriors were to have originally featured flat stucco. But we went with a rougher finish because it was less expensive.”
For its part, Trammell Crow knew that the 50-shop outlet center – where manufacturers sell directly to consumers at reduced prices – was close to a sure bet. Having seen the concept flourish on the East Coast, the developer hired a consultant to assess its potential at the Citadel. The results concluded that the Citadel’s site, located between Orange County tourist attractions to the south Disneyland, Knotts Berry Farm) and Hollywood/Beverly Hills attractions to the north, offered one of the best locations in the nation.
Besides tourists, the developer could expect to attract local, upscale consumers within a 35-mile radius. These attributes, along with the project’s close proximity to Interstate 5, drew an enthusiastic response from prospective tenants, according to Crow’s Eaves. The present tenant mix, which emphasizes soft goods, is aimed primarily at women.
To mitigate the forbidding nature of the Assyrian wall, Trammell Crow commissioned Sussman/Prejza to create dynamic signage for the center – hence, the overhead sign warning motorists about falling prices. Elsewhere, the top of the derrick features a large billboard heralding the outlet collection.
Viewed from the expressway, the juxtaposition of the wall and the Oil Derrick jars the senses. But behind the wall, the tidy, triangular shopping center plays it a tad safer.