Historic Building Gets New Life as a Bouldering Hub

Overlook of the Westwood neighborhood. Image: Sender One
Overlook of the Westwood neighborhood. Image: Sender One

Sender One
Westwood, CA

Specs: 10,000-square-foot bouldering facility, targeted for a 2021 opening, will be geared towards “families and climbers of all levels,” located in close proximity to the sprawling UCLA campus. The gym’s climbable walls will range from 12-15-feet in height. Additional amenities will include various fitness and yoga offerings. The gym is being constructed within a building that is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Originally a Ralph’s supermarket in the 1930s, the historic structure was more famously known as the Mann Festival Theater—and played host to numerous movie premiers in the 1970s.

Trango Holds Pardners


Walls: Walltopia
Flooring: Cascade Specialty
Website: senderoneclimbing.com 

In Their Words: “I’ve always thought creativity is at its best when it has some limits. Some gyms are built from the ground up if you can find the space for it—if you put a big box on the land, you can build something cool. I don’t disagree that you can build cool and interesting things when given a totally blank canvas. But I think creativity and innovation happen the most when they are given limits within which to work. So, when you have a historic building that becomes a frame for what you can do, I think the creativity and the limits interact to bring to life something singularly unique. Additionally, we’re repurposing something that people didn’t really know what to do with. The Festival Theater has been vacant since 2009. The landowners originally wanted a theater operator in the space, but that industry is largely gone. Once we were able to talk to the landowners, they fell in love with what we wanted to do because we are going to keep a lot of the historic aspects of the building—whereas, if the landowners were going to turn it into an office space or traditional retail space, more than likely, they wouldn’t be able to keep a lot of the historic components, like the roof; a lot of what makes the space special would be lost. We told the landowners, ‘We’ll take the whole thing, just the way it is.’ The end product will be a space that is really unique.”
—Wes Shih, co-founder and COO, Sender One