The story of this project began with two childhood friends and their love for automotive design.

Nestled in the light industrial district of a Southern California neighborhood, this 6,400 sq ft single-story masonry building was the Karr Rubber Manufacturing facility for over 60 years. It sat abandoned for nearly a decade before we were commissioned to reimagine it into what we’re calling the collectors’ retreat.

Rethinking The Future Awards 2023
Second Award | Industrial (Built)

Project Name:  The Collectors’ Retreat

Category:  Industrial (Built)
Studio Name: Rockefeller Kempel Architects
Design Team:
Architect: D. Rocky Rockefeller, AIA – Rockefeller Kempel Architects
Architect: Christopher Kempel, AIA – Rockefeller Kempel Architects

Area: 6,400 SQ FT
Year: 2022
Location: El Segundo, CA


General Contractor- The Hatch Group – Don Hatch/ Israel Hernandez/Josh Runley
Structural Engineer- Langston & Associates – Jim Langston
Civil Engineer- Labib Funk + Associates – Frank Larocca
Surveyor- T&M Surveying – Ty E. Thomas
Landscape Architect – Sammy Castro Design – Sammy Castro
Mechanical Engineer- AMA Consulting Engineers – Alan Doherty
Plumbing Engineer – AMA Consulting Engineers – Timothy Conway
Electrical Engineer- Nikolakopulos & Associates – Alex Nikolakopulos
Lighting Designer – KGM Architectural Lighting – Dave McCarroll
Interior Designer – Andrika King Design, LLC – Andrika King

Photography Credits: Eric Staudenmaier, Eric Staudenmaier Photography

133 Lomita | Rockefeller Kempel Architects - Sheet2
©Eric Staudenmaier, Eric Staudenmaier Photography

The new owners were enthusiasts who over the years, gathered automotive artifacts, sculptures, wall art, and built the beginnings of a multi-car collection.

133 Lomita | Rockefeller Kempel Architects - Sheet4
©Eric Staudenmaier, Eric Staudenmaier Photography

Rather than tear the derelict building down, we convinced them to preserve it and breathe new life into its industrial bones. The adaptive reuse transformation had three design objectives:

  1. Rehabilitate the locally historic public exterior by re-pointing the facade, refurbishing the existing steel sash frames and glazing, and paying homage to its industrial past by keeping the Karr Rubber Manufacturing sign. Then we added new, subtle architectural interest and detail, including a rear plate steel blade trellis and front entry canopy – 1 3 3
  2. Create an open and airy, naturally daylit interior lounge and auto gallery by removing an essential demising wall and adding plentiful skylights
  3. Convert the rear, once concrete industrial yard, into a new restorative garden retreat to gather with friends or spend time alone and re-charge
133 Lomita | Rockefeller Kempel Architects - Sheet5
©Eric Staudenmaier, Eric Staudenmaier Photography

Along with a complete seismic retrofit, and modern features and systems, this local industrial gem has been re-imagined as a place for appreciating automotive design as well as an escape from the everyday.