- Westwood Archive (Urbanize LA)
Doctors Ted Khalili and Eraj Basseri, two local physicians, have announced plans to construct The Agora, a new student housing development near UCLA. The project, which was filed earlier today with the Department of City Planning, would replace a small office building at 900 Hilgard Avenue with a 16-story structure featuring 64 residential units. The majority of the apartments would come in three-, four-, and five-bedroom floor plans, although the project would also include a handful of one- and two-bedroom dwellings. Plans call for seated 190 parking spaces, which would be located in two above-grade levels and one basement level. Designed by Gensler, the 164-foot-tall tower is conceived with open floor plans intended to foster collaboration and face-to-face engagement between residents. Individual bedrooms are organized in family-style units with shared living and cooking spaces, and every other floor features a double-height common living room. Amenity decks are planned at multiple levels, providing study rooms, terrace gardens, and a gym. The tower's roof level would be activated with a plunge pool, a barbeque pit, and space for outdoor cardio. At the exterior, the Agora is designed with a "lantern concept" of shared spaces activating the corner of Hilgard and Le Conte Avenue, with double-height spaces allowing sunlight to penetrate into the building. Its massing is derived from those of adjacent buildings - including the adjacent W Hotel - with setbacks and tiered heights used to create space for vegetated facades. The project's above-grade parking is masked from the street by habitable space and the sloping topography of the development site. Bicycle parking is placed prominently within the building - with direct access to the lobby - to emphasize active transportation above car use. "We have a housing crisis that is affecting everyone from our students to our seniors," said project spokesperson Aaron Green. "This will be one of the only privately-owned student housing communities in Westwood to offer quality, below-market-rate housing. This commitment to economic and social diversity not only helps those struggling to afford housing, [but] it also facilitates a more well-rounded educational experience for all students." Additionally, the project was conceived with a focus on "students' health, wellness, [and] personal development," according to a statement released by the developers, who share a multidisciplinary surgery practice focused on similar themes. This includes a departure from traditionally cramped quarters commonplace in student housing complexes - The Agora would feature more than nine times the amount of open space required by zoning rules. On the opposite side of the UCLA campus, the university itself is engaged in an ambitious push to add 5,400 student beds in multiple new buildings. Plans call for an array of mid-rise and high-rise structures, some as tall as 17 stories.