Orange, CA-based AO has completed the design of Le Méridien Pasadena Arcadia in Arcadia, CA, inviting culture seekers to unlock history behind its doors.
Developed by SAICP LLC and managed by Pacifica Hotels, the full-service hotel has 232 rooms and suites, a fine dining restaurant, bar lounge and 14,000 sq. ft. of meeting and event spaces with elevated design.
Taking notes from mid-century modern design, the aesthetic of the Le Méridien brand was born in Paris in the 1960s, celebrating cultures from around the world. AO used its brand design ethos along with local cues as a starting point for the project.
“The owner of Le Méridien envisioned a luxurious and elegant property enveloped in sophisticated design and creativity,” said Bruce Greenfield, partner, AO. “They desired a place where people would feel comfortable and be able to gather in a multitude of settings and group sizes, both private and public—a place where people would linger and have quality time to relax in a beautiful environment. The style of the project and its signature elements were inspired by the adjacent Santa Anita racetrack, which was built in 1934 with buildings emblematic of the Art-Deco movement, and the city of Arcadia’s symbol, the peacock.”
In San Gabriel Valley culture, Greenfield explained, there’s a focus on indoor and outdoor activities to celebrate the climate and to experience the vistas of the majestic San Gabriel mountains.
“Additionally, Pasadena and Arcadia have a comfortable luxury and understated elegance to them, which the hotel augments and internalizes in its design,” he noted. “Pasadena also has a history of great gardens and outdoor spaces, such as the Huntington Library and Los Angeles County Arboretum, which the hotel complements with its great lawn and outdoor patios.”
The building’s bones pay homage to its location, with architecture taking inspiration from the Art-Deco Santa Anita Park. Its facade incorporates color and decorative schemes that nod to the racetrack, such as fascia elements with scallop patterns.
Artwork pays homage to the equestrian culture, with two custom installations inspired by horses and peacocks.
“The locally based owner wanted to leave a legacy and landmark for the city and create a destination that would be noticed and symbolize the city as an elegant enclave for residents and visitors alike,” Greenfield said. “The art feature walls exemplify this through their beautiful horsetail pattern, drawn from the adjacent racetrack and the accenting peacock feather. These exterior walls create a beautiful landmark for the city and the main street, as the art pieces anchor the arrival to the property.”
Visible through the lobby’s wall of glass, the artwork also serves as a backdrop to the registration area, he said.
“The design tells the story of its location, paying homage to the horses, which can be seen from the guestrooms doing their daily workout or running a race; the peacock, which is the city’s symbol; and to its surroundings with the great lawn and gardens seen against the backdrop of the dramatic mountain vistas,” he said.
Le Méridien Pasadena Arcadia is the first phase of a two-phase project by developer SAICP incorporating an eight-story, mixed-use residential community facing the hotel and consisting of 96 luxury condominiums and 12,000 sq. ft. of retail.
The spa and its gardens and patios on the podium will be accessible to hotel guests. The remaining gardens and pools and gathering areas are for residents’ exclusive use. A boulevard with landscaping, shade tree lining and street-level specialty shops will tie the complex together. Construction of phase two is expected to start in Q4.
Offering a connection to the outdoors was crucial to the design team, which made an effort to not only give guests a chance to be outdoors but to also bring the outdoors in.
“COVID-19 has altered the way guests think about buildings,” Greenfield said. “It has created a desire to take advantage of outdoor spaces. At Le Méridien Pasadena Arcadia, our lobby, dining and lounge areas all have exterior patios within close reach of hotel staff and services. Our ballrooms also open up with walls of glass and operable doors to exterior patios, for break-out space, gatherings and networking opportunities. Service pathways discreetly connect to these spaces, providing efficient access to each of them.”
Another design factor that came into play, Greenfield explained, is that the available development sites are tighter and often irregular in shape.
“Working with those constraints to fit the owner’s program fully, without compromising the sense of place, service and the ‘wow’ factor is a challenge that we enjoy solving,” he said. “The guest should never feel those constraints in any way. With our generous lawn and gardens area, and vistas from every point within the hotel, the property feels expansive and beautiful.”
AO is the design architect, architect of record and landscape architect of Le Méridien Pasadena Arcadia and the adjacent residential tower. AO partnered with general contractor Snyder Langston, interior design firm Linda Snyder Associates and civil engineer STANTEC on the project.
“This hotel was the owner’s dream, and we thoroughly enjoyed working hand in hand with the owner, investors, the city, the management team and the brand to deliver a hotel that exceeded expectations and created a world-class luxury property within budget and schedule,” Greenfield said.