Howard Building Corporation our-work

Smashbox Studios

Culver City
Smashbox Studios
23,000 Square Feet

Project Description

Founded in 1990 by Dean and Davis Factor, great grandsons of acclaimed Hollywood makeup artist Max Factor, Smashbox is known as a hub for world-class photographers and directors to shoot important content for major magazines, ad campaigns, music & entertainment projects and brand visuals.  After several years without operations at its Culver City location, a partnership between Smashbox and Industrial Color Brands led to the redesign of the 23,000 square foot studio facility. The new design serves as the rebirth of the studio, and a renewal of an incredible brand.  The reinvigorated Smashbox Studios team worked side-by-side with Gensler and Howard Building Corporation to bring the project’s vision to life.

The studio aims to inspire the photographers and celebrities who utilize the space, and the lobby serves as a pivotal point for all activity, providing lounge, library, café and concierge space to accommodate talent needs.  A large scale opening was created in the entry façade, and full height glazing was installed to increase daylight and connect the lobby with the outside.  The previous build out just inside the entry was also demolished, opening up the lobby to the existing high-volume wood truss structure above, which was sandblasted to its original natural finish.  Exposed concrete floors contrast to the intricately designed, rich, wood millwork, in the library and café in the lobby.  The café and concierge station boast pristine, white ultra-glass stone countertops that float above polished white millwork below.

A new mezzanine was constructed to float above the lobby, adding an additional 300 square feet to the space.  The mezzanine serves as a VIP lounge and office overlooking the lobby, library and café below.  Across from the concierge space, a large scale media installation comprised of nine LCD monitors utilizes flash technology to continually loop video and digital imagery controlled from the concierge station.  At the heart of the lobby is the coffee bar, the social center for all the studios.  This area provides a full-service cafe and kitchen that caters to guests’ needs.  It also features an 18 foot tall sliding art display wall that rolls aside to reveal a hidden speakeasy pantry.  

Each individual studio incorporates a main studio and cyclorama and is set up as a hotel suite with luxury amenities, including a private restroom, kitchenette, workstation with an iMac, VIP lounge with premium cable TV, 1GB Wi-Fi and iPad controlled AV, wardrobe room and custom fabricated hair and makeup stations with smart technology, hue-controlled lighting systems.  Several studios also incorporate private outside patios, and one utilizes a fully operable skylight that opens to the sky above.  In one studio, known as “Lightbox” because of its exceptional southern, western and eastern light, the VIP suite accommodations were moved to a newly constructed mezzanine on the north side of the studio to increase the amount of studio space for photography while creating a unique space above for talent.

Having been underutilized for many years, the entire facility required substantial upgrades and both interior and exterior architectural improvements.  Completely new mechanical, electrical and plumbing equipment was installed as well as an entirely new fire protection and life safety system.  To support the client’s premier studio requirements, a new 1500 amp electrical service for the two separate campus buildings was procured and installed, proving to be a major challenge because all existing electrical feeds had to remain live in order for the shared tenant, Smashbox Cosmetics, to continue normal operation throughout the course of the project.  Acoustic and seismic upgrades required demolishing and rebuilding several cyclorama walls, and a wireless internet system was installed throughout the interior and exterior spaces as well. 

An extensively detailed collaboration beginning early in the preconstruction process continued all the way up until occupancy, resulting in one of the most exciting re-openings that HBC has been a part of.  All teams worked from multiple geographic locations, and by using the client’s photography review Android app, “globaledit,” the team was able to upload progress photos, drawings and sketches.  This became the primary communication platform between Smashbox and the build team.  Its use was paramount during the design and construction phases, allowing the design, consultant, construction and client teams to communicate instantaneously and make real-time decisions as the design came to life in the field.



HBC Nominated for Nine Awards!


With the awards season in full swing for the commercial real estate industry, HBC has been nominated for nine awards so far!  Check out the list below:

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Smashbox Studios v.2.0


Smashbox Studios’ 25,000 square foot facility returns as the premier creative and event destination in Los Angeles, following a total facility renovation and partnership with Industrial Color Brands. The relationship with Industrial Color Brands combines 25 years of experience in pioneering photo, video and studio production and technology, bringing next-level service to the iconic space.

READ MORE Smashbox Studios v.2.0