The Shops at Playa Vista
3 Reasons Playa Vista Failed
There are three goals for successful destination master planning, three goals that apply whether the project is retail architecture, a destination town center, or entertainment retail design. A great destination appeals to a wide variety of people, extends the stays of its guests and encourages repeat visitation. Achieving each of these goals requires three elements – the same three elements. Critical Mass. Variety. People. Playa Vista fails because it has none of the three:
Critical Mass. Shops, restaurants, people, entertainment. A lonely shop will likely fail, in a shopping center is has a good chance of success. If there are enough shops, restaurants, people and entertainment, there will be something for most everyone. Guests will want to stay to browse and explore, and will want to return for variety of reasons. A destination with critical mass will attract a wide variety of people, it will extend their stays and will encourage repeat visitation. Playa Vista has one restaurant, two places for beverages, three shops and several commercial service providers. This is not enough critical mass to draw people from the immediate neighborhood, let alone the community beyond.
Variety. Zones, environments, experiences, products, menus. Choices. A varied destination appeals to a wide variety of people and provides multiple reasons for extended stays and repeat visitation. Playa Vista has one menu, one place for juice, one place for coffee and one small market. It is of limited appeal, provides no enticement to stay, none to return.
People. The number one attractor of people is people. No one goes to an empty restaurant, retail center, town center destination or park. An empty destination has limited appeal and is uncomfortable for those who do visit. They will not want to stay or return. Playa Vista is empty.
Empty Park at Playa Vista
Playa Vista’s park and shops are hidden from the outside world, those outside not only are not enticed to come in, they are made to feel unwelcome. The designers seem to have created a town center for only the Play Vista neighborhood. Consequently, it is a town center for no one. Further, the architecture of Playa Vista consists primarily of bad caricatures of the rich variety of architectural styles that are LA. Most is mediocre and the enormous variety of styles, from modern loft to associative Mediterranean to Mondrian creates an odd juxtaposition, forced in feel and uniform only in its unapproachability. As per above, variety is an essential element to the success of a destination. Variety for the sake of variety, however, variety that is not modulated by a high concept, by a big idea, is not unified on some level by a consistent vocabulary, is only an attractant on the level of a fast food franchise. It draws you in then chases you out.
LA has an enormously strong car culture. Angelenos go. Had Playa Vista created a vibrant retail, dining and entertainment district like the nearby Abbott Kinney in Venice Beach or Main Street in Santa Monica, Playa Vista residents might have been encouraged to live a modified LA lifestyle. As designed, they exemplify the LA way of life.