Culver Steps and Main Plaza

Culver Steps and Main Plaza

Mixed-use development draws inspiration from physical and historic connections


LocationCulver City, California, USA
ClientHackman Capital Partners & The City of Culver City
Size98,000 sf (site); 55,000 sf (landscape)

Founder Harry Culver’s renowned axiom, “All roads lead to Culver City,” acquires new meaning with a spectacular addition to ongoing downtown revitalization. The Culver Steps is a public/private collaboration between The City of Culver City and Hackman Capital Partners devised to highlight the city’s creative “maker tradition,” from its involvement in the filmmaking industry to feats of engineering like the “Spruce Goose. They are framed on one side by Culver Studios, (famed for productions like Gone with the Wind and Arrested Development) and on the other by the Culver Hotel (once frequented by John Wayne and Charlie Chaplin). Not just a celebration of the past, the plaza is centered on today’s award-winning restaurants, transit, and culture.

Inspired by the adjacent foothills of the sierras, the open space design brings nature into the heart of Culver City, integrating stepped terraces, hilly topography, and tree cover. Canted walls and custom-designed planters flank the steps’ nearly 50-foot-wide span, with integrated plantings between the ground plane and second level. The grand architectural staircase that is the project’s centerpiece invites artists, writers, filmmakers, and restaurateurs to gather and share ideas; the renewed connection to nature serves as a placemaking foundation, and is paired with identity and activation strategies to engage the community in the new plaza’s success.

In June 2018, The Culver Steps was awarded the Los Angeles Business Council’s Under Construction Award, followed in 2019 by a Best of Design Award from The Architect’s Newspaper. This signature civic destination has already attracted high-profile tenants including Amazon Studios and promises to promote diversity and interaction for locals and visitors while establishing a strong identity for Culver City’s downtown.

Work attributed to SWA/Balsley principal Gerdo Aquino and his team with SWA Group.

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