Los Angeles’ mega mixed-use downtown development LA Live recently opened its second phase including a glitzy new plaza hemmed by retail to mixed reviews in the design community. But amid the chain restaurants and flashing signs, there’s one sure architectural hit: the Conga Room (facing page and above, left and right), a salsa club once located in Hollywood, that draws hundreds of sweaty dancers and partygoers every night. In fact the place is so crowded that its design, focusing on the ceiling, is really the only thing you can see.
Made of triangular fiberglass panels (inspired by the triangular salsa step diagram and created completely by computer), the glowing creation curves and floats its way around the space, starting on the bottom level and tunneling its way through a hole linking the floors. In some places, the triangles cluster in contained bits, resembling little pyramids or flowers; in others they’re larger and more sinuous, resembling rippling water.
The entire project measures 14,000 square feet, including a glassed-in restaurant, three different bars—one has a wall cut out with stylized butterflies, another looks like a split-open papaya—patio seating, and a swank VIP lounge. Surreal/graffiti-style paintings and sculptures by local artist Sergio Arau are another highlight.