Four Los Angeles-based architectural firms are in competition to rebuild 18th Street Arts Center in Santa Monica as a world-class visual and performing arts center with affordable housing.

The firms will exhibit a number of their designs from Thursday, October 12th, to Friday, October 27th, at the center, 1639 18th St., Santa Monica, just north of Olympic Boulevard.

A free reception event welcoming the public to view the designs will be held from 5:30 to 8 p.m. Thursday, October 12th, at the center.

The four firms are Daly Genik Architects, Mack Architects, Pugh & Scarpa Architecture, and Koning Eizenberg Architecture.

“We had more than 15 architects submit portfolios for the project,” said 18th Street executive director Jan Williamson.

“Our selection committee narrowed the pool down to these four firms on the basis of their innovative design, past affordable housing experience and sustainable building experience.

“Judging from these finalists, our board has a range of strong architects to choose from for this important project.”

The board of 18th Street Arts Center is just beginning to develop new plans to rebuild its 1.2-acre property with a world-class facility for the contemporary and community-based artists and organizations the center has incubated since its inception.

The new arts center is estimated to be three times larger than the current facility and include between 20 and 50 affordable live-work studios for artists and more space for nonprofit arts organizations.

“This project will positively affect the health and well-being of the L.A. arts landscape for decades to come,” said 18th Street co-founder and board member Susanna Dakin.

The 18th Street Arts Center is Southern California’s largest contemporary art and artist residency center, providing support to emerging to mid-career artists and arts organizations dedicated to issues of community, diversity, and social justice in contemporary society, according to center spokesman Michael Sakamoto.

The center’s programs include year-round housing and workspace for artists and arts organizations, an international visiting artist exchange, a professional gallery, artist teaching residencies in public schools and free art events for the public.

Founded in Santa Monica in 1988, 18th Street Arts Center has incubated over 250 artists, provided arts education programs to well over 4,500 students and hosted more than 100 international artists from 16 countries on every continent, according to Sakamoto.

The 18th Street Arts Center has also been a safe haven for multiple smaller nonprofit arts organizations in Santa Monica’s “hot real estate environment,” he says.

“Redevelopment of our facility into a world-class arts center is a reflection of the depth of talent in the Los Angeles arts community,” says artistic director Clayton Campbell. “We look forward to continuing to support artists and creative persons who are asking important social, political and aesthetic questions.”

The center has selected Community Corporation of Santa Monica to be the developer. The California Cultural and Historical Endowment and the City of Santa Monica have both provided seed money for the planning phase of the project.

Daly Genik Architects, founded in 1990, has combined “innovative design principles with emergent technologies to create numerous award-winning and acclaimed commissions,” including the South Campus Building at the Art Center College of Design, BMW/Designworks, Harvard University’s Interim Museum of Art and many others, Sakamoto said.

The firm’s work has been featured in The New York Times, Time, Newsweek, The Architectural Review, Architectural Record, Architecture, The Los Angeles Times, Quaderns, Casabell and Zoo.

Koning Eizenberg Architecture has 25 years of “ground-breaking commissions and a commitment to sustainability” while designing a full range of buildings, including the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh, Waterloo Heights Housing, The Standard Hotel, PS#1 Elementary School and others, Sakamoto said.

The firm’s work has also been featured in books published by Rizzoli and Monacelli and in the New York Times, Metropolitan Home, Architecture, Elle, Los Angeles Times and dozens of other publications.

Mack Architects is described as specializing in innovative, user-oriented housing and mixed-use designs, often with pre-fabricated and sustainable elements, in America and Europe, including Judenburg West (Germany), Boise Art Museum, Abbott Kinney Lofts, Stremmel Gallery and others, Sakamoto said.

Pugh & Scarpa is an award-winning, internationally-recognized, architecture, engineering, and planning firm at the forefront of sustainable design, Sakamoto said.

The firm has received ten national AIA awards and other national, statewide and local awards, and was a finalist for the 2002 World Habitat Award presented by the United Nations.

The firm had its work featured in architectural and design publication in America, Europe and beyond.

The 18th Street Arts Center programs are supported by the James Irvine Foundation, Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, California Community Foundation, Trust for Mutual Understanding, Santa Monica City Cultural Affairs Division, L.A. County Arts Commission, National Endowment for the Arts, Dana Foundation, J. Paul Getty Grant Program, Asian Cultural Council, Ford Foundation, Štant DonnÈs and others.

Information, www.18th