Designed by Willard Ford
To pay homage to the building's history and win over the locals, the theater's flashy neon signage and vintage cinema marquee were immaculately restored. An array of empty micro-storefronts on Figueroa Street, once old-timey newspaper stands and shoeshine joints, were expanded and spiffed up to house Ford's various entrepreneurial ventures—including Strong Sports Gymnasium, a boxing and mixed-martial arts training facility (note full-circle moment), and Ford & Ching, a marketing agency and showroom representing innovative furniture designers and brands such as Matt Gagnon, RS Barcelona and Geneva Lab.
"The arrangement is similar to a traditional mom-and-pop grocery store, with the shop on the street and the living quarters upstairs," says architect Austin Kelly. "But in Southern California, everything is horizontal rather than vertical, so the shops are still on the street, but the residence is in the back, across a courtyard."