car wash blog

Modern Car Wash Remodel Photos

Posted by Derek Leavitt on Fri, Apr 16, 2010

We recently had some photos taken of the Fashion Square Car Wash by photographer Sergio Garza -

Sergio shot these for his portfolio, so we didn't interfere and advise him of what we wanted. He had free range to express his artistic point of view. We are pleased with the results. They capture the essence of the place, a busy car wash that is only closed (except for rainy days) one day a year. We also like that he took some pictures of just the landscaping.

modern graphic designPhoto by Sergio Garza

los angeles modern car wash

Photo by Sergio Garza

modern car wash remodel

Photo by Sergio Garza

car wash los angeles

Photo by Sergio Garza

car wash architect

Photo by Sergio Garza

car wash tunnel watch

Photo by Sergio Garza

car wash tunnel

Photo by Sergio Garza

car wash viewing

Photo by Sergio Garza

car wash rennovation

Photo by Sergio Garza

modern landscaping car wash

Photo by Sergio Garza

modern car wash waiting area

Photo by Sergio Garza

car wash canopy

Photo by Sergio Garza

modern landscaping

Photo by Sergio Garza

modern car wash

Photo by Sergio Garza

drought tolerant landscaping

Photo by Sergio Garza

oil change building remodel

Photo by Sergio Garza

oil change remodel

Photo by Sergio Garza

oil change building remodel

Photo by Sergio Garza -


The Fashion Square Car Wash, located in Sherman Oaks, CA (Los Angeles) was remodeled extensively in 2009 by the following team:

Architect - Modative
General Contractor - Pacific Empre Builders
Landscape Architect - Miriam Rainville
Structural Engineer - Ajay Ray

Topics: Car Wash, Car Wash Remodel, Modernism, Los Angeles, los angeles architects, Modern Design, Landscape Architect, Architecture portfolio, Mid-Century Modern, modern remodel

Taking the Chore Out of the Car Wash

Posted by Derek Leavitt on Thu, Jan 21, 2010

Following the success of the completed Fashion Square Car Wash, we've decided to start targeting other car washes that could benefit from a modern makeover.

To show car wash owners how our services can help transform their businesses, we developed the quick promo below. Take a look and let us know what you think.

I recommend viewing it full screen by clicking the "full" button under the image.

Take the Chore Out of the Car Wash
View more documents from Modative.

Modative is a modern architecture firm in Los Angeles that has experience in Car Wash renovation.


Topics: Car Wash, Car Wash Remodel, real estate

Car Wash Remodel Night Photos

Posted by Derek Leavitt on Mon, Nov 16, 2009

remodel progress

A few night photos of the remodeled Fashion Square Car Wash taken by the contractor's superintendent, Fredy Monge of Pacific Empire Builders.


los angeles car washView from the street with the new drought tolerant landscaping in the foreground.


car wash remodel canopyThe remodeled car wash ordering area. The only time of day this area is without cars.


car wash remodel waiting area The waiting area and new canopy with aluminum louvers.


oil change building remodelThe oil change / smog check building. Work on this building was minimal- new stucco and paint. New planter/benches in the foreground.


car wash retail store remodelThe main car wash building with a peek into the retail store interior.


Modative is the architect for the Fashion Square Car Wash remodel in Sherman Oaks, CA (Los Angeles). We are actively seeking other car washes that are looking to improve their sales though a modern makeover. Please contact Modative if you are interested in learning more about how a remodeled car wash can drastically improve your business and your customers' satisfaction.

Topics: Car Wash, Car Wash Remodel, Los Angeles, remodel, los angeles architects

Car Wash Architecture Update

Posted by Derek Leavitt on Tue, Sep 08, 2009

Update September 2009

While we continue to go back in time and add posts of the entire Fashion Square Car Wash architecture and construction process, I thought we'd show a few recent pictures to hold you over until we send in the professional photographers.

If you would like to be notified when we add updates to this project blog, please subscribe by entering your email on the right.

car wash architectsThe new waiting area



remodel car washAnd, just to remind you, the old waiting area and main building



architecture canopyA close up of the new canopy


canopy detail

Canopy detail


car wash graphics

We also designed all the new signs


outdated car wash sign

The old sign


drought tolerant landscaping

New drought tolerant landscaping along the street


car wash modern signThe sign and landscaping at the corner


clean sign

The simple and "clean" graphics


car wash los angeles The welcome car wash ordering area


car wash needs remodelBefore picture of the welcome area


car wash LA

The vacuum area beyond is about to be rebuilt with a new structure and graphics (Sept. 2009)


la car wash architecture

Path to the lobby


car wash interior design

The card area


store graphics

We brought a similar graphics theme to the store interiors


Stay tuned as posts will be added in the coming months to show you more of the architecture and construction process.


Topics: Car Wash, Car Wash Remodel, Modernism, Los Angeles, Modern Design, Mid-Century Modern

07 Car Wash Architecture Concept Renderings

Posted by Derek Leavitt on Thu, Jul 19, 2007

car wash progress

Some renderings of the (screen) concept to match the previosly developed study model. We've found that moving back and forth between physical and digital modeling works well for us. Digital modeling is fast while the physical modeling allows us to see the entirety of the design at once and forces us to determine a level of buildability in the architecture.

Commercial Architecture

View from the street

modern architecture

The car wash ordering area

store architect

The waiting area

Topics: Car Wash, Car Wash Remodel, Modernism

06 Retail Store Interiors - Take 1

Posted by Derek Leavitt on Fri, Jun 01, 2007

architect process

The ever critical car wash store is much more than just a place to pay for your car wash. If the architecture and interiors are done correctly, it can turn the chore of getting a car wash into a pleasant shopping experience.

This first round of design for the car wash store interiors was intended to reflect the concepts used on the exterior (see previous post): the screen, simple signs, and improved flow.

retail architect

The cabinetry is composed of stacked pieces of wood of various widths that provide different shelving depths, dramatic shadow lines, and visually relate to the screens used on the exterior. Storage areas just below the display areas are intended to ease the merchandise stocking.

los angeles store architect

Simple, one word signs such as "write" (cards) and "give" (gifts) were intended to provide a customer with the essence of what was available in that portion of the store.

store interiors los angeles

A birds-eye view of the store layout.

floor plan

The floor plan of the store before the proposed remodel.

retail floor plan

Several layouts were explored and flow diagrams created to see how to improve the customers experience of moving through the floor plans

These initial interior layouts included a take-out style cafe.

architect flow diagram

Although the client was very happy with these concepts for the store, the final constructed design of the store is fairly different, matching the reduced scope of the overall car wash project.

Topics: Car Wash, Car Wash Remodel, Modernism, Retail

05 A Modern Car Wash Concept Takes Form in a Study Model

Posted by Derek Leavitt on Thu, May 31, 2007

architect process

Car washes have an interesting mix of things that should be seen, the automated washing tunnel, and things that should be hidden, noisy and ugly equipment. It is from this observation that the concept of a screen evolved. The density of the screen morphs from nearly opaque to transparent, hiding the unsightly and emphasizing the visually appealing aspects of the car wash process. The screen also doubles as a shading device for both the patrons and employees, protecting them against the often intense heat of the San Fernando Valley.

We began design work with the client asking us to really go for it - to look at a complete transformation of the car wash. This initial concept was almost entirely designed in physical model form.

Here are some pictures of the study model:


architecture model

The street side of the car wash with a bold new roof canopy and sign.


Car Wash Modern

The waiting area. Note the Fashion Square graphic.


modern architecture

The waiting area with screens for sun protection


modern architect

The wash ordering area


modern signs

We liked the idea of simplified signs throughout the site. Here at the ordering area we went with one word - "clean".

modern architect

Under the ordering canopy


modern car wash

Car wash ordering menus


architecture car wash

The screen wall is used to hide some of the equipment. but becomes more transparent down the tunnel allowing people to watch their cars in the wash tunnel.

Topics: Car Wash, Car Wash Remodel, study model

04 Architecture Study Model Base

Posted by Derek Leavitt on Thu, May 10, 2007

architect schedule

We do much of our architectural design work three dimensionally. One of the best ways to achieve this is through physical study models. Because this project was a remodel, we first built a model of the car wash as it exists. A large base model that we could then manipulate with design options.

Here are a few photos of the 1/4"= 1'-0" scale model we built of the existing car wash, before any modifications. The model quickly made us aware of the simple beauty of the exposed steel structure that repeats throughout the building.

architect model

The front (street side) of the car wash

architect study model

The car wash from above (roof of wash tunnel removed)

architect model

The car wash tunnel and beauty of the repetitive steel structure

Topics: Car Wash Remodel, study model

03 Architecture Concepts

Posted by Derek Leavitt on Thu, Apr 26, 2007

Architecture schedule

Aside from the necessary aesthetic makeover, Modative's initial concept was to rethink the car wash process by making it less of a "chore" and into more of a positive "experience", like going to Starbucks, or the spa.

We also envisioned the car wash having far less of the visual clutter typical of car washes by reducing the number of signs and replacing them with smart design moves that create an atmosphere of high end service.

Concept Sketches

We created concept sketches using trace paper over existing photos of the various car wash areas. Some of these sketch ideas were then further visualized with quick renderings. Here's a glimpse into the process:

existing car wash

Before picture of the front of the main building (waiting area).

base image

We took the photo into Photoshop and stripped it down to the bare structure as a starting point for sketching some ideas.


modern architect concept sketch

This concept sketch was about creating a higher canopy over the waiting area to create more presence at the street.

los angeles car wash

Before picture of the car wash ordering area -sign clutter.

architect sketch

Concept sketch of a cleaner wash ordering area with minimal signs and clear lane distinction.

architects rendering

Concept rendering of the car wash ordering area - a more refined look.

la car wash before picture

Before photo of the car wash detailing area.

modern architects concept

Our concept was to make this detail area more substantial and call it the car spa.

architects sketch

We thought that the detail area or "car spa" could have its own waiting area for the VIP customers.

modern architects rendering

A rendering of the car spa, complete with a green (vegetated roof) to help control runoff.







Topics: Retail, architecture precedents, Inspiration, Communication

02 Developing a Strategic Plan: The Architecture Program

Posted by Derek Leavitt on Mon, Feb 12, 2007

architecture progress

Before designing anything, we developed a project program. In architecture, a program is a document that details out the requirements for the project.

architecture program diagram

Because of the large size of the car wash property, we broke the program down into ten zones (color coded in image above).

The following images are from the preliminary program as it was initially presented to the client. This working document was continually revised as the project progressed.

Architecture ProgramCar Wash Ordering Area

Car Wash Entry

Car Wash Tunnel

Store Program

Waiting Area

 office program architect

Car Wash Drying

Car Wash Detailing

Oil Change Building


Topics: Car Wash, Car Wash Remodel, Project Strategy, Program