Architect's New Office Is 'Haunting'

The hallway shown has been installed in Bastien's office in Tustin, Calif.

From the Orange County Business Journal

Issue Date: 5/22/00


When the film "The Haunting" was released last year, it bombed. The haunted castle, which was supposed to be in England's Berkshires, didn't look authentic, complained one reviewer, who wrote, "Fright often depends on verisimilitude and that gets sacrificed right off the bat."

But now the set from that movie is the office of Tustin architect Gary Bastien and, according to Bastien, it's a hit.

The Bastien and Associates, Inc. office has the feel of a 500-year-old European castle, complete with high gothic ceilings, huge columns, large wooden doors and mood lighting. Only by touching can you tell that the walls are not stone, but rather plastic and fiberglass.

Sometimes, Bastien admitted, his own office gives him the creeps.

"If you're there late at night, it is a little scary," he said.

Bastien first saw the set while walking around the Manhattan Beach Studio, which his architectural firm, Bastien and Associates, Inc., had designed.

About 40% of Bastien's work is designing film studios, everywhere from Vancouver to Spain to downtown Los Angeles. He was looking for an office that would appeal to his clients and his 22 employees. He was impressed by the set, which had been designed by Eugenio Zanetti, who won an Oscar in 1996 for art direction for the movie "Restoration."

"We thought that would make an outstanding work environment. I'm attracted to high ceilings. Gothic detail is timeless. Rather than your same humdrum cubicle office, this gives our office a special sense," he said.

Bastien transported the set to his Tustin building, which he had recently bought. Whittier-based Oltmans Construction Co. installed the set. Bastien estimated the final cost to renovate the 4,000 square foot office at $120,000. Bastien didn't want the office to be too scary, so he put in twice as much lighting as the film had. A couple of windows in the back offices let in more light. He installed a mirror at the end of the hall, which gives it a feeling that it's much bigger than it actually is.

Bastien, who easily talks in the jargon of Hollywood, said he doesn't want to get typecast, but that the set has been good for business.

"We've had a terrific reaction from clients. They walk into a typical square building in Tustin and then they are transformed to 500 years ago," Bastien said. "It's very dramatic. We've gotten a number of commissions as a result of the creative sense that they got from our office."

He said some clients now want their own movie sets in their offices and DreamWorks, the film studio which sold Bastien the "Haunting" set, is considering selling used film sets as a possible income stream.

And it's been a useful recruiting tool for employees.

"The set has been like a magnet. People walk in here and don't want to leave," he said.

Bastien may have an inauguration party for the office. He is thinking about having it on Halloween.