Hayden Tract: Hidden Architectural Gems in Culver City
When we researched architecture in Los Angeles, we came across several little-known locations in Culver City. They belong to an area called Hayden Tract. Culver City is on the west side of Los Angeles, close to Venice and LAX. It’s probably easier to access with a car (as are most places in LA), but you can also use the Metro Expo Line.
Hayden Tract is a group of industrial buildings designed by Eric Owen Moss Architects. They’re all in the same area. The architecture stands out with original shapes and materials. While all buildings are technically private property, we had no issues shooting around them and security never said anything. Feel free to go in the parking lots, and even inside some the buildings.
We’ll go through our favorite buildings below. If you wander around, you’ll found more little gems and quirks to photograph.
Samitaur Tower (8540 National Blvd)
At the corner of National Boulevard and Hayden Avenue, you can’t miss the Samitaur Tower. It’s a tough one to shoot abstracts, but wide angle shots are great, especially at blue hour.
To the east on National Boulevard are a couple of interesting features, including the Beehive. Go around it to find some good angles, the top of the structure works well for detail shots with its geometric design.
3535 Hayden Ave
South of the Samitaur Tower is where the majority of the structures are. 3535 Hayden Avenue isn’t the most interesting building on the outside but the lobby has some interesting shapes.
Stealth (3530 Hayden Ave)
Across the street is Stealth, a massive and angular building. The rough concrete has some good textures. We recommend focusing on tighter shots highlighting the geometry of the facade.
Umbrella (3530 Hayden Ave)
For this building and the next, you have to go behind Stealth, in the parking lot. We didn’t have any issues with security, but be mindful that you’re on private property and you might be asked to leave. Umbrella is a wing-like structure made of glass and metal. It works well with blue skies and some clouds.
The Pterodactyl (3530 Hayden Ave)
The Pterodactyl is an office structure added on top of an existing parking garage. It’s a fun one to explore, both from the ground and going up the various levels of the garage. Experiment with the different points of view: close/far, looking up/down, shoot from the front/back.
Samitaur (Corbett St at W Jefferson Blvd)
This one is outside of the Hayden Tract (and technically in the city of Los Angeles) but it still belongs in this group. It’s hard to find because Google Maps doesn’t have an exact address, but it’s by the intersection of Corbett Street and West Jefferson Boulevard.
The facade reminds us of a greek helmet or a face. It’s definitely fun to play with the various shapes, contrasting sharp angles and curves.
Vespertine (3599 Hayden Ave)
Vespertine is probably our favorite building in Hayden Tract. The building houses a high-end restaurant and clearly stands out from the rest of the buildings with its bright orange facade.
The lines and patterns of the facade are perfect for abstracts. Get close to play with the patterns and fill the frame:
Black and white works well too, and you can also use the sky as negative space to highlight the sharp edges at the corners.
Finally, don’t forget to zoom in and isolate smaller details. If you have sun, you’ll get some interesting shadows as well.
While Hayden Tract is no Walt Disney Concert Hall or Broad, it is worth the trip if you’ve already explored the main locations in Los Angeles. What other locations would you recommend in LA? Share in the comments!