For Sparano + Mooney Architecture, great design at all scales is at the heart of our practice. We deliver these thoughtful, innovative, and contemporary designs to accommodate each client’s vision and lifestyle. Yes, we design large-scale buildings – museums, performing arts centers, recreation and aquatic centers, mountain-modern residences, and centers of worship – but we also apply our creativity to smaller scale manifestations of our architectural mindset and are eager to continue developing this facet of our practice. This is why we were thrilled when a client contacted us about our design for the Loop Bench, and commissioned us to produce one as a memorial for installation in a specially-selected spot along the beach strand in the City of Manhattan Beach, California.
Originally conceived for a competition by the City of Manhattan Beach Cultural Arts Division, our Loop Bench takes the native ocean flora along the local coastline as its point of departure. Our process for the design of this bench began with a survey of the natural jetsam and flotsam that presents itself on the shoreline of Manhattan Beach every day. This quotidian detritus revealed the presence of simple aquatic forms of “soft-shelled” sea life with many of the organisms having a hollow, tube-like structure. Seaweed, kelp and other plant material were among the forms studied.
The bench is a simple, solid concrete “loop” derived from a section or slice of the basic tube structure of much of the sea flora studied. It is curved with a slight undulation in the long direction and square in the short direction with eased edges. It is constructed using a mold and cast with high-strength, fiber-infused concrete with its overall dimension being approximately 2’ x 9’. The concrete is bright white, hand-toweled smooth with a power-buffed, glossy finish on all surfaces. The bench structure sits on a deeply recessed, 1” high concrete plinth creating a visual separation from the sidewalk and a deep shadow line around the base of the bench. If desired, text can be etched into either the top or side of the concrete surfaces. The first bench that has been completed was installed in May 2017.
Working in collaboration with local Utah artisan Tyler Blaine of Modern Craftsman, we developed a mold and a foam-and-wood positive so that future editions of the bench could easily be visualized and cast. Additional benches are available for production upon request. Loop Bench is designed to be situated outside, so would make an ideal and beautiful addition to any private project, and would be equally suited to a civic location such as a transportation hub, public park, or recreation center. Or, alternatively, there is no reason this sleek design object couldn’t also be placed inside as an objet d’art.