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Many clicks, One Laguna

Technology-heavy venue on Forest Avenue offers state-of-the-art access to city's past, present and future.

March 18, 2014|By Rhea Mahbubani
  • High-definition touch screens can be found in various areas, such as in a coffee table, as well as mounted on walls at One Laguna in Laguna Beach.
High-definition touch screens can be found in various… (KEVIN CHANG, Coastline…)

Anybody stepping into One Laguna should feel, well, connected.

Exposed brick and hardwood interiors, outfitted with surfboards, art, motor suits and other memorabilia, are juxtaposed with 17 touch screens of different sizes. Details and images of Laguna Beach's recreational offerings lie at a visitor's fingertips.

One Laguna functions as a digital visitors bureau in a 5,000-square-foot building owned by Firebrand Media LLC to show off all that the city has to offer. It includes a radio station owned by Firebrand and shares space with the Laguna College of Art + Design's gallery, called LCAD on Forest.

"It's a service for visitors, locals and merchants to gain exposure on Forest Avenue," said Scott Sanchez, chief technology officer and publisher of Firebrand. "We wanted to create a dynamic, interactive media space that people could come to and find information about places to go, things to do and places to eat, shop and play in the city."

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The brainchild of Allan Simon, the company’s chairman, One Laguna debuted in mid-February and attracted nearly 500 attendees during a grand opening March 5. Its location — a stone's throw from the beach and on what Sanchez considers the oceanfront town's most coveted street — is its greatest asset.

While two coffee tables inlaid with screens offer videos, entertainment and current and historical photographs of the area, visitors can also access six tablets with high-tech directories replete with more than 800 listings. Nearby, two 84-inch, ultra-high-definition monitors have been combined to create a 12.5-foot interactive 4K screen called the Wonder Wall.

Other popular features include the Social Wall, which integrates live feeds from Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and elsewhere in the social media stratosphere, and Wish You Were Here, an interactive photo booth with which users can personalize postcards, email their creations to their phones and make printouts.

"We built it as a place to discover and explore things in Laguna," said Sanchez, deeming it a "one-stop shop."

LCAD on Forest is partially underwritten, said gallery Director Andrea Harris-McGee, adding that the arrangement might be modified to a complete donation in a few months. But that's not the only change on the horizon.

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