Echelon Studios Santa Monica Boulevard, California film and tv production facility, USA Architecture

Echelon Studios Santa Monica Blvd

December 15, 2021

Location: Santa Monica Boulevard, Los Angeles County, California, USA

Design: RIOS

View from the Top — RIOS Reimagines the Hollywood Studio Lot with Echelon Studios:
Echelon Studios Santa Monica Boulevard building design

Images © Kilograph

Echelon Studios Santa Monica Boulevard Building

Next generation production village melds classic Hollywood workflow with modern production amenities

Los Angeles, CA, December 2021 — In a constantly evolving content creation industry, there has been a growing need for modern facilities that embrace the practical needs of film and TV production while still fostering the bustling, creative energy that fuels Hollywood’s creative industries. Rising to meet this challenge, BARDAS Investment Group (“BARDAS”) commissioned innovative Los Angeles design firm RIOS to create a new paradigm for production facilities that would reimagine the Hollywood studio lot for the next generation of producers and creative teams. Echelon Studios, which is set to begin construction in early 2023, is a culmination of RIOS’ community-oriented design approach with state-of-the-art production facilities designed to cultivate a fluid, organic, and creative-friendly approach to film and tv production.

Rendering of the East Tower at Echelon Studios Santa Monica Blvd:
Echelon Studios Santa Monica Boulevard Los Angeles

Natural workflow with centralized functionality

A respected commercial real estate developer and former board member of the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce, BARDAS founder David Simon has built a three-decade career on pursuing forward-thinking development projects that empower the creative industries in Southern California. Seeing an opportunity to respond to the enforced isolation of the pandemic with a new studio model that would allow creatives to thrive in a curated, communal environment, Simon connected with the like-minded RIOS to develop a vision that would take these concepts into the future.

“Creating a new urban studio model that addresses the creative and technical needs of this community continues to be our vision. These types of environments inspire and allow for performance at the highest level. RIOS understood our vision and through their design process partnered with us to create, what will be, this first purposed built urban studio in Hollywood in the last forty years.”

Distinguished by a distinct, angular silhouette and overall articulation of masses, Echelon Studios matches the scale of the surrounding neighborhood on Santa Monica Boulevard in Hollywood. The 600,000 SF campus is designed from the ground up to provide an organic workflow with a series of connected areas optimized for modern production needs. The central production facilities consist of four 19,000 SF stage areas and a 15,000 SF flex stage flanked by two six-story towers. All of the areas are easily accessible by a series of connected stairwells and elevators that also access two levels of subterranean parking.

“Studios rarely have centralized functionality which can make the production workflow more difficult,” explained RIOS Creative Director Bob Hale, FAIA. “One of our main goals with Echelon Studios is to create a truly choreographed feel to the experience so that creators and production teams can take the fullest advantage of the facility and work in a way that feels fluid and natural.”’

Echelon Studios rendering with a view to Downtown Los Angeles:
Echelon Studios Santa Monica Boulevard Building USA

A bustling production space with a community connection

The heart of the facility is its Bungalow Village, providing a central nexus for creatives and their production staff that creates a studio village with a modern twist and a dazzling view of the surrounding Hollywood Hills. The Bungalow Village allows for an appropriate transition in scale and character, enabling the studio to coexist naturally with the surrounding neighborhoods, utilizing ample greenery and outdoor space similar to the residential properties that it borders. The office towers consist of more traditional workspaces but utilize open office plans, ample natural light, and wraparound balconies to provide the appropriate creative atmosphere.

“The Bungalow Village and the office towers are two distinct but interconnected ‘flavors’ for production and planning,” Hale explained. “The Village has an outdoor garden feel that is ideal for more communal creativity, a place to gather and explore ideas in an inspiring, open-air setting. The towers serve as more traditional work spaces, and house production offices, post-production facilities, and screening rooms. They also provide additional outdoor workspace on the deep balconies that provide sun protection and make the interior environment more comfortable and energy efficient.”

In addition to relating to the feel of the surrounding neighborhoods in its design, Echelon Studios also includes commercial space for shops and restaurants in the lower levels of the office towers that serve both the studios and general public. These community connections allow for a degree of accessibility that is a distinct departure from the high-walled studios of old, and were a key consideration for RIOS who has regularly championed a community-oriented approach to the design of commercial spaces. “We approach every project with the mentality of exploring how to be in dialogue with the surrounding community,” said Hale. “These design elements create a synergy between Echelon Studios and the neighborhood and connect with the people who work along Santa Monica Boulevard.”

With proposed completion in late 2024, Echelon Studios’ unique combination of modern production facilities and supportive, creative services suggests a vision of the future for content creation facilities in Hollywood. For Hale and the RIOS Design Team the project has been an opportunity to reinvision the classic Hollywood Studio lot for a new generation. “Our greatest drive has always been to design places that are inspiring and meaningful to the people using them,” said Hale. “Echelon Studios has allowed us to explore this drive to its fullest potential and we’re proud to have created a place that will inspire generations of creative teams to come.”

For more information about ‘Echelon Studios’ and other RIOS projects, please visit


RIOS was founded in 1985 as a multi-disciplinary design firm. RIOS work together to create integrated and comprehensive solutions for a variety of design challenges. Combined, our talents comprise a wide range of professional skills including architecture, landscape architecture, urban planning, graphic, interior, exhibit, and product design.

Based in Los Angeles, RIOS work everywhere — with transformative projects in San Francisco, Austin, San Diego, Sacramento, Puebla, Mexico, and beyond — applying a strong interdisciplinary, collaborative approach to the design process, whether on projects within our office or in consultation with other design firms. Our projects are diverse, including municipal, corporate, retail, hospitality, institutional, and residential commissions.

BARDAS Investment Group

BARDAS Investment Group, (“BARDAS IG”) formed in 2018 with offices in West Hollywood, California is a boutique real estate development and investment firm that focuses on creating value by developing unique and inspirational workplace environments. The company produces world-class projects that anticipate and exceed the needs of today’s creative users.

Utilizing thoughtful and innovative redevelopment strategies, BIG consistently creates value in the commercial real estate space, focusing on top tier markets ripe for growth in gateway west coast cities. With 30 years of commercial real estate experience and over $10 billion in transactions, BIG is positioned to take advantage of the highly specialized needs of the content producers and the creative community.

All images © 2021 Kilograph

Echelon Studios Los Angeles by RIOS on Santa Monica Boulevard

Echelon Studios Santa Monica Boulevard, California images / information received 151221 from RIOS

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