i|o at Playa Vista Website

Project Overview

The perfect storm involving the shrinking of MySpace, a draw tenant, and the collapse of the real estate market in Southern California in 2009, lead to the disasterous opening of Latitude 34 Playa Vista. Without a key tenant, the two-building office complex, with design details honoring Howard Hughes aeronautical days, lay empty and dormant from opening through 2014, when it was purchased, redesigned, and rebranded for a younger agile tech workforce.

The trifecta of Clarion Partners, Lincoln Property Company, and L.A. Realty Partners, along with re-invisioning architecture from Gensler all culminated in a precedence whereby a 4-year-old failing property could be re-worked to fit current and future working culture.

We were brought in to bring new energy to the project and communicate a clear new ownership direction for the broker and surrounding community.


Design Inspiration

Working as a humble three-person team, and with rumors that Google was going to purchase a twelve-acre parcel adjacent to the project, we focused efforts on creating a website experience closer to a larger start-up tech company. The project would come together quickly, Clarion worked feverishly on a press embargo with L.A. Times announcing new leasing efforts in the area.

sample sitemap in early stages
An early draft of a visual sitemap and responsive wireframe. This project was quick and with a whole new client, best to be clear and concise.

Creative copy-writing from Penny Benda (i|o defined multi-laterally as inspiration & options, impressive & open, input & output, interactive & optimized, ideas & optimism, indoor & outdoor) gave Looking a platform to create branding that was more fluid. From this came a website concept that could still be traditional with multiple pages, but also fluid with smooth-scrolling sections, redundant navigation to increase browsing-level awareness as was famous by start-ups, and quick interactive maps.

Interviews & Insights

In interviews with the core team, Playa Vista was a relative unknown outside of Silicon Beach natives. A big marketing need was to separate the project from previous owners to the public while educating the brokerage community outside of Los Angeles of the potentials of Playa Vista.

Observations & Hypothesis

East Building or West Building

From user testing on the Latitude 34 website, a big confusion was to quickly orient the user to which building was which. With two rectangular buildings of similar footprint, and a differentiator of east vs. west, we devised a simple way to explain leasing availabilities.

As the video shows above, we suggested a simple isometric sketch from the architects. Dull in detail, it served as a model. We drew and activated svg layers per floor and building, with javascript loading both a respective floor drawing as well as shifting a simple campus plan view upon click. Reports were that this eleviated confusion from 2D interactive site plans.


Addressing the concern of if Playa Vista was suitable to move to. We did comprehensive research on retail, banking, hotel, dining, and gym/recreation amenities in the area. A custom map was created both for the regional amenities, as well as a neighborhood level map. The decision to use simple css-transition hovers to inform the user would keep 200+ point maps lightweight in feel and load time.

When served on a smartphone, each pin is a list item that is sorted alphabetically by amenity type in an accordion with external link to the respective establishment. I give Clay all credit for thinking of this, but at the time it was brilliant. We used the phone’s hardware (Google Map/Apple Maps) to serve up the nearest coffee spot. Here is a sample below of this section.


The i|o at Playa Vista website was launched upon a press embargo with a feature story in the L.A. Times by Roger Vincent regarding the expansion of creative office space in Playa Vista. I remember, I was sweating bullets 5:00 a.m. that morning.

Two tenants were signed before launch, a testiment to the leasing team’s brilliance. However, I would like to think the usability of the website helped snag the third major tenant, The Honest Company.

Most iteration on the site was design-based. We altered colors, redrew maps, and shot for honest clarity. Kudos to Clarion Partners.

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