A body to die for...

Niki May Young
Monday 19 May 2008

How to turn a garage into a work of art

From the outside you may be forgiven for thinking that Uptown Body and Fender was just a regular old garage, the red brick exterior wouldn't suggest otherwise.But once inside you realise that there is something much more interesting happening than just oil changes and re-sprays - Uptown is a body shop unlike any other.

Giovanna Tanzillo and Lisandro Allende, the proprietors of Uptown, have a very different approach to the mechanics trade. Visiting a garage often represents the culmination of many car-owners fears. The inevitable blaring radio, greasy leacherous mechanics and fear of getting done-over financially are responsible for many a sweaty brow or raised heart-rate. But at Uptown, the classical music and aroma of coffee, and more importantly the chic and intriguing design of the interior, are enough to turn that experience around, Tanzillo aiming for her customers to 'forget why they had come'.

Central to the design is the drop-off point and headquarters for the autobody repair service. Carefully juxtaposed to the old brick warehouse in which it stands, the hub is formed of "streamlined curves and swoops which are fashioned from steel panels, finished with glistening automotive paint, and the entire assembly appears poised to accelerate out the door" as explained by Lucia Howard of Ace architects who are responsible for the design.

The gleaming metal structure encloses a 1000 sq ft office space, the remaining 3500 sq ft of the converted warehouse is filled with cars, usually ones ready to be picked up. The actual bodywork (welding and grinding) and painting occurs at two other nearby locations.

The sleek and original design has proved popular in the area and Uptown has become an unexpectedly popular venue for events. From film screenings to parties, art shows to fundraisers, Uptown seems tobe the place to be in the California social circuit. Talking of California design Howard said: "Giovanna was a very unusual client ­ a design such as this relies on the vision and personality of a client. Yet, office and industry come together in one space frequently in California,especially in the high tech world. We see enormous possibilities for innovative design."

Niki May Young
News Editor

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