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ImaginAsian Center Will Add Modern Life to Main

By Eric Richardson
Published: Wednesday, July 25, 2007, at 08:43AM

Exterior Though I never set foot in the old Linda Lea theater on Main street, it was clear just from passing by that the building wasn't in the best of shape. When architecture firm Hodgetts+Fung got inside to plan work on the new ImaginAsian Center, there wasn't much that they could save. The building's rehab has been a rebuild, with only the exterior walls and a few ceiling joists maintained.

The building that's rising inside that historic shell has a very different look than what stood before. Yesterday afternoon H+F sent over a trio of renderings showing off the new theatre, and the building portrayed is definitely striking.

After the jump: big things in small dimensions, a cool bike rack, and a projected opening date.

Also check out our construction shots from the theater.

While Downtown is seeing a burst of modern construction, particularly in South Park, this project stands alone in its (diminutive) scale. The lot that the Linda Lea sat on is 38 feet wide. The architects and owner Sue Ann Kirst of Cinema Properties Group felt it important to keep the new theatre in line with the historic project's mass. In particular, they felt that small projects encourage in-block diversity and help to make a neighborhood vibrant.

The modern structure's facade will feature a glass face sure to spill lots of streetlife-encouraging light out onto Main. Out on the sidewalk the project is seeking permission to install a sculpted bike rack, encouraging Downtowners to make their way over on two wheels instead of four.

Theatre cross-section view: Cross Section

Inside that 38-foot lot will be a new 250-seat theatre with stadium seating and 16 VIP luxury seats. The space is designed to be flexible, able to host music, meetings and theatre as well as films. The lobby will feature drinks and the ever-more-present WIFI access.

Though I still can't say "ImaginAsian Center" with a straight face, I'm sure I'll quickly get over that once the venue opens. That won't be too long, as the current projected finish is in late September. The important thing for Downtown is that the theatre be up and operating, contributing nightlife to an area that has so much potential.

Picturing this block of Main with the ImaginAsian up and running and Tom Gilmore's Vibiana development rising across the street makes it all the more obvious how poorly sited the new LAPD motorpool will be. Instead something to rise on that space that will contribute to Downtown and Gallery Row, the City's giving us a gussied up garage. I think that in a short time we're going to be looking back on this choice just the same as we look back today on bone-headed planning moves of the 1960s and 70s.

One more interior render:

Interior

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ImaginAsian Center

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