The design for the Angeli Mare responds to the concept of the plug-in, a new structure inserted within an existing one and to the context of the Venice Marina. The craft of ship and boat building inspired the choice of materials, forms and structure. The massing of the building expresses the project’s specific programmatic needs; the structure is broken into four distinct yet interconnected parts: entrance, bar, and dining area and kitchen area, housed in a space 33 feet wide by 120 feet long and 14 feet high.
One might assume that southern California’s climate would ensure an abundance of outdoor dining facilities, but this is not so. In this case, the unattractive, strip-mall site and strict building codes prevented entertaining even the idea of eating outside. My nostalgic response was to bring outdoor space in by constructing a large, trellis-like ribbed ceiling that recalls outdoor dining places in Tuscany.
The floor plan is simple due to the complex programmatic demands: between three and five hundred diners are served in ten hour period every day. The main dining area is flanked on one end by the kitchen and pizza station and on the other by the bar. The goal for any kitchen is maximum utility and this is achieved with well-lit stainless steel galleys, rubberized floors and a gleaming service station. The bar, separated from the dining area by a latticed wine rack, is a smaller, more compact space with a raised plywood wall that runs along the street façade and lends privacy.
Much of the spatial interest is generated by diverse ceiling treatments, with sections that vary from segment to segment. The ceiling profiles derive from the human body and express an organic, systematic arrangement of parts. The dining room with its transparent front wall is defined by a series of parallel steel beams that follow the curved drywall ceiling to disguise the mechanical ducts leading to the roof. Instead in the hollow beams are indirect lighting and arm attachments for additional light fixtures. Angled wood slats create a soundproof hollow space between the undulating ceiling and the ribbed ceiling and provide lateral support. Along the front façade, each beam is hung from the structure above; at the back, each rests on a curved steel column that emerges from the rear wall. The front door is crafted of overlapping irregular plywood panels. Until the moment it swings open, just how the wings will separate remains a mystery.