For Still on Paper
Presented by Alonzo Construction Inc.

Uxmal Arts District

by Synthesis Design + Architecture

Get to know the Artists

Interview moderated by Farooq Ameen

The Concept

Uxmal is a unique 24,000sf art event space for architecture, fashion, music and the arts housed within the upcoming Arts District Center designed by AC Martin in the Arts District of Los Angeles. In addition, the project will be home to an innovative collaborative workshop and residency program for emerging artists and curators that will be led by the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) to empower youth in Downtown Los Angeles. 

Programmatic Organization

The project is named after the mystical and magical Mayan city Uxmal, a visionary center for creativity and forward thinking in ancient Mayan culture. Whereas the design of the mixed-use hotel, condo, and retail/lifestyle development of the Arts District Center takes on the industrial chic identity of the vibrant street art and murals that define LA’s gritty Arts District, Uxmal takes on the identity of the abstract studio art being both created and displayed within the Arts District’s many galleries and studios. 

Gallery Entrance, Hotel Entry Portal, Hotel Terrace

Envisioned as the epicenter of activity and creativity for the Arts District, the form of the gallery takes inspiration from the directional forces of magnetic fields and the fluid forms of liquid mercury. The project is conceived as a building within a building - a pristine and sculptural vessel on display within a “jewel box” setting as a showcase of the gravitas and creative energy that the Arts District has to offer.


The skin of the gallery is clad in a cloud of symbols from Ancient Mayan, Chinese, Adrinka (African), and Greek cultures expressing ideals of equality/justice, power/strength, spirituality/harmony, energy/vitality, and prosperity/future.

Pre-function Spaces

Facade Diagram
Level 3 Floorplan
Level 3 Mezzanine Floorplan
Reflected Ceiling Plan

Gallery Space


Gallery Space

Within the interior walls of the vessel's sculptural form, visitors are transported to another world of terraced platforms and cellular vaulted ceilings organized around a central double height event/gallery space. Additionally, two viewing portals break free from the boundaries of the building to frame postcard views of the DTLA skyline.

The Artists

Synthesis Design + Architecture is a progressive Los Angeles based design firm with a global profile led by Alvin Huang, AIA, NOMA. Established in London in 2010 and relocated to Los Angeles in 2011, SDA has continued to provide creative solutions to conventional problems to produce a body of work that embraces new definitions of craft, merges form and performance, and makes a case for the role of innovative architecture in our contemporary creative culture. Our portfolio includes design objects, public art, branded environments, specialty facades, cultural buildings, retail developments as well as mixed-use lifestyle and hospitality projects. We don't specialize in a particular project typology - but prefer to think of ourselves as specialists in using design as the medium, and technology as the means, for challenging the status quo. As a firm that values provocative questions as much as innovative solutions, we believe firmly in the ability of design to change the world around us. As such, we view design as an opportunity to interrogate the status quo with innovative solutions as alternatives to the norm. We seek to balance both the experimental and the visionary with the practical and the pragmatic to achieve the extraordinary.
Alvin Huang, AIA, NOMA is an award-winning architect, designer, and educator specializing in the integrated application of material performance, emergent design technologies, and digital fabrication in contemporary architectural practice. His work spans all scales ranging from hi-rise towers and mixed-use developments to temporary pavilions and bespoke furnishings. He is the founder and principal of Synthesis Design + Architecture and an Associate Professor at the University of Southern California, where he is also the Director of Graduate and Post-professional Architecture.   Prior to establishing SDA, he gained significant experience working in the offices of Zaha Hadid Architects, Future Systems, AL_A, and AECOM. He received an M.Arch from the Graduate Design Research Laboratory at the Architectural Association in London and a B.Arch from the USC School of Architecture in Los Angeles.

The Category

The ‘Still on Paper’ Category was open to any type of work that is currently in the works. Submissions ranged from conceptual design through all disciplines and not yet built or fabricated. The concept behind the category came from the museum’s apprection of design in every day life.

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