In daytime, three white sails provide protection from the sun; at night, lighted canopies create a warm, intimate atmosphere for elegant dining.
Santa Monica Place, one of the most popular public gathering spots in this southern California Eden, has a storied history serving as backdrop to several films and television shows since its 1980 opening, most notably Pretty in Pink, Terminator 2: Judgment Day and Beverly Hills, 90210. Architecturally, its California Cool pedigree could not be higher: it was designed by world renowned architect Frank Gehry early in his career, and only recently was it remodeled as an outdoor mall by another icon of retail design, Jon Jerde, in 2010.
The shopping mall is located at the southern end of the Third Street Promenade and is only two blocks from the beach and Santa Monica Pier, another storied location depicted in film and literature.
Perched atop the third level of the new Santa Monica Place Mall is a trendy restaurant, the Redwood Grille, designed by architect Stephen Francis Jones, founder of SF Jones Architects, specialists in designing restaurants, hotels and spas around the world. For more than 20 years Jones has made a name with his designs for such popular dining environments as Wolfgang Puck’s Spago in Beverly Hills (his first association with the noted chef), the Lucky Strikes Lanes retro bowling/nightclub chain, and Ten Pin Alley for Ashton Kutcher’s Dolce Group in Atlanta. The Redwood Grille features classic American cuisine and great views of Santa Monica Bay and the beach.
Redwood Grille is SF Jones’s retrofit of an existing restaurant where Jones reoriented the interior spaces toward the entry and created a new 2,500 sq. ft. patio space opening onto the Third Street Promenade. “The biggest challenge,” said Jones in a release, “was to work with the bones of what was there and to create an engaging design. In every restaurant, I try to create multiple intimate spaces that relate to the whole.” Redwood Grille features ample redwood wall paneling, sophisticated furnishings and a number of private spaces to encourage intimacy, as well as a glass-walled exhibition kitchen to promote interest and a sense of drama. Perhaps most prominent are a set of three patio shade sails, an iconic feature of the restaurant that has done much to sell it as a popular place for hosting outdoor events. (The patio sails shine as the most visible manifestation of the restaurant, a moody nighttime photo of them is featured on the restaurant’s website.)
In daytime, the three white sails provide protection from the sun; at night the lighted shade canopies create a warm, intimate atmosphere for elegant dining.
Engineered to meet 90 mph winds and seismic codes, the three tensioned panels are made of FR sailcloth manufactured for high durability in the toughest of ocean weather, the fabric normally used on competition sailboats. The fabric is fitted over custom steel framework. Framing for the 10-ft. to 13-ft. high support posts, the spreader bars and compression bars are powder coated with aluminum paint. Fabric connections are stainless steel marine grade fittings.
Designed to complement the restaurant’s thematic motif, the three shade sails covering the Redwood Grille Patio have the best view in town of the Santa Monica waterfront scene.
Bruce N. Wright, AIA, a licensed architect, is a media consultant to architects, engineers and designers, and writes frequently about fabric-based design.