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Ford Factory Website

Project Overview

Located on the south end of the Downtown L.A. Arts District, the Ford Factory is a four-building 257,000 square foot brick industrial compound with heavy-duty mushroom cap columns and a rooftop water tower. From 1913 — 1929, it served as the original manufacturing assembly plant of Ford’s Model T and Model A vehicles for the Western United States.

Rich in history, the building was later occupied by U.S. Rubber, Lockheed Aircraft, Bullocks, and the Imperial Toy Company to name a few. Restoration of the building into creative office space was thoughtfully designed by Rockefeller Partners Architects in El Segundo, and our team was brought on to help market the opportunity.

Discovery

Design Inspiration

Starting with a creative brief, three rough renderings, and a new identity to the project’s name, the design process started with developing a visual language as unique as the building. For example, a color palette was built from Ford’s Classic Shelby Mustang, Shelby itself a Ford performance variant also built in Los Angeles in the 1960’s.

color study of ford inspiration
Color study inspired by various historical Ford palettes

While clarity was stressed, visual details were treated with nostalgia, care was given down to type choice. Old Model T car manuals were studied and typography was built around characters that were relevant during the factory’s operation.

pic from the Ford Factory website showing mushroom cap columns
Image from the website showing just how dense and heavy this building was, 300lbs./sq. ft. is a tank.

Interviews & Insights

Observations from the architect were incorporated into the website and eventual marketing book. This is a building that is super heavy, just look at all of the sand bags above. The architects in their design, created a dramatically open and light space, so we conceptually played with the contrast of light and heavy…whitespace with very hueful imagery of Downtown Los Angeles.

In conducting interviews with the client, a big misnomer in the commercial real estate was the definition of the Arts District. For a broker in New York, what was the Downtown L.A. Arts District? What was happening to the region? How would a tenant make use of working there, and what were current conditions like?

Observations & Hypothesis

Driving Home the DTLA Arts District

With a main demographic being the commercial real estate brokerage community, the demo below shows how we served an education on the entire Downtown L.A. Arts District in about 30 seconds. Short attention spans rejoice!

During information architecture stages, we explored an entire page dedicated to informing users of the location. Here is what we ended up with, a success from client feedback.

  • Color-coded map showcasing the different “neighborhoods” of Downtown Los Angeles.

  • Brilliant current lifestyle photography taken by the talented and ballsy Cliff Fong.

  • An ever-evolving dynamic map of amenities in the area by vertical type. There was generous feedback from the client here.

  • A static transportation map orienting users, including highlighting public transportation to the location.

Iterations

Initially launched in 2015, the website continually housed content updates to amenities and renderings. Outside of content, the design remained stable through full lease the following year. It is amazing how many restaurants and boutique shops opened in the area during the window of a year. The design remained stable throughout the campaign, and led to the eventual design and publishing of a nice marketing book.

You can see images of that book on Looking’s website here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.

Terminus

Launched Website

Click to see the site

In October of 2016, Warner Music Group signed a multi-year lease effectively completing marketing efforts. Congrats to Shorenstein, CBRE, as well as the Downtown L.A. Arts District which is well deserving of a big name in town. If you are in the area, I highly recommend one of my favorite chocolatiers Mast Brothers. The goat and sheep milk chocolates are simple yet slightly transcendental. Of course, if you are a fan of this project, then definitely try their smoke chocolate, an apt flavor.

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