Demolition Continues On Ambassador

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Demolition Continues On Ambassador

Postby Lynxwiler » Wed Nov 23, 2005 11:06 am

Since the tale of the Ambassador Hotel is starting a sad, new chapter, I'm starting a new topic about its final days. If you haven't driven by to say your goodbyes, do it soon.

Los Angeles Downtown News:
Demolition Continues On Ambassador

If you haven't been past the faded Ambassador Hotel west of Downtown lately, get ready for a big surprise - there's a lot less of it. Demolition crews are slowly dismantling the 1921 hotel to make way for a new public school complex. "I've been getting a lot of calls from people who are trying to avoid driving down Wilshire Boulevard. It's just too painful," said Ken Bernstein, director of preservation issues for the Los Angeles Conservancy. "We worked hard to avoid this moment." The Conservancy was one of the many preservation groups that battled the Los Angeles Unified School District in its plans to construct a 4,200-student multi-facility on the site. The Conservancy eventually backed down, and the LAUSD agreed to preserve portions of the hotel, including the pantry where Sen. Robert F. Kennedy was shot in 1968. That cleared the way for demolition work, and in September, the old hotel's furnishings were auctioned off. (Chunks of cement from the Ambassador have already popped up on Internet auction sites, where they're selling for about $5 apiece.) Glenn Gritzner, special assistant to LAUSD Superintendent Roy Romer, said demo work is scheduled to wrap up by the end of the year.

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Postby Lynxwiler » Thu Nov 24, 2005 1:49 pm

Didn't the LAUSD claim that the building was far too fragile and old for children? But contary to their opinion it is strong enough for tractors, backhoes, and caterpillars to roam around on its roof and slowly demolish it floor by floor.

I still don't trust that LAUSD.

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just like

Postby modfan » Fri Nov 25, 2005 6:04 am

Disney's house of the future, won't come down easily, hmmm perhaps the building is telling us something. (I'm worth saving, I'm worth saving.....)

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LAUSD

Postby veronica » Sun Nov 27, 2005 6:52 am

Lynxwiler, you are right! LAUSD is so very corrupt. The fiasco of Belmont; what a $$$ toxic waste! They make big mistakes so that they may create big paychecks for themselves. Truly evil!

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Postby Velas » Mon Nov 28, 2005 4:44 pm

ouch ouch ouch. kinda makes you want to drink your tears away
at the 'ol HMS Bounty.
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Postby nichols » Mon Nov 28, 2005 7:25 pm

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The campus design has been conceptualized by Pasadena-based Gonzalez Goodale Architects, which was awarded the $11.2 million contract in October. The project will recreate the four-story Ambassador façade, preserving some Art Deco details, but with a contemporary look. It will also preserve the famous Cocoanut Grove nightclub, which will be used as an auditorium. The coffee shop, which was designed by Los Angeles architect Paul R. Williams in the 1940s, will be reused as a faculty lounge. The intricate beam ceiling from the Embassy Ballroom will be salvaged and "reapplied" in the new library structure, according to LAUSD senior construction engineer Eugene Aguirre. Construction on the elementary school could begin as early as spring 2006. Completion of the 24-acre project, which will include three separate buildings, including an 800-seat primary center, a 1,000-seat middle school, and a 2,440-seat high school, is planned for September of 2009.

http://archrecord.construction.com/news ... 0803la.asp

People love that Huntington Hotel in Pasadena -- ooh, it's from ye olde 1907... ooh....nobody seems to mind that it was completely leveled in 1989 and replaced by a replicant. Maybe the Ambassador will be... absorbed.. as well.
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Postby Lynxwiler » Mon Nov 28, 2005 11:45 pm

Will LAUSD also continue their plans to keep a few of the pillars from the lobby in their "garden" as decorative "ruins"? Although I haven't seen any renderings, it was in their initial, accepted proposal. Apparently it was what they considered to be a gift to the LA Conservancy -- their form of preservation.

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Postby lasvegaslynn » Tue Nov 29, 2005 8:31 am

Will LAUSD also continue their plans to keep a few of the pillars from the lobby in their "garden" as decorative "ruins"? Although I haven't seen any renderings, it was in their initial, accepted proposal. Apparently it was what they considered to be a gift to the LA Conservancy -- their form of preservation.>>

Eric,

If they do go thru with that idea, the "decorative"ruins can join the Brown Derby Hat across the street as a reminder to all of what what can be lost in the battle for preservation and why the fight is so important.
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A side note

Postby davidk6 » Thu Dec 01, 2005 9:40 am

The New York Times
December 1, 2005
Filming History Before It's Demolished
By DAVID M. HALBFINGER

LOS ANGELES, Nov. 30 - Over Sunday dinner at his home last spring, Martin Sheen, the star of "The West Wing," casually mentioned to his wife, Janet, and son Emilio Estevez that he had been lobbying members of the Los Angeles school board to proceed with the demolition of the old Ambassador Hotel, where Senator Robert F. Kennedy was assassinated in 1968 on the night he won the California presidential primary.

Officials were planning to replace the long-shuttered grande dame of Wilshire Boulevard with a school big enough for 4,000 students, many of them immigrants and minorities, who would otherwise have to keep riding buses across town. One of the project's backers was Ethel Kennedy, the senator's widow, who saw it as a fitting tribute to her husband. So she asked her friend Mr. Sheen - who has played Robert Kennedy in a mini-series, narrated a collection of his speeches, and done voice-overs for a number of Kennedy-family productions - to make some calls on her behalf.

Mr. Sheen had been only too happy to oblige, he told his family over dinner.

To which they all but choked on their food. As Mr. Estevez reeled, he recalled in an interview, his mother snapped at his father: "Are you insane?"

Mr. Estevez, as Mr. Sheen knew, had been plotting for several years to make an independent film he had written about the day Robert Kennedy was shot. It was to take place over 16 hours on June 4 and 5, 1968, entirely within the Ambassador. And he was desperate to film his movie there before the hotel was razed.

By now, of course, Mr. Estevez, 43, who came of age as a Brat Pack star in the 1980's, can see the humor in it: the interview was on the set of his movie, "Bobby," and his father is among the cast members; Mr. Estevez was even able to shoot a few days at the Ambassador, 48 hours ahead of the wrecking crew, before shifting locations to another faded hotel dressed to look like it. The Ambassador, with its Cocoanut Grove nightclub, was the Waldorf-Astoria of the West Coast, a palace and playground for movie stars, presidents and kings. If the school district's contractors are busily erasing a tremendous chunk of this city's glittery history, Mr. Estevez is seeking to revisit and preserve one of the darkest days in Los Angeles's past.

Along the way, he is also stretching the range of a movie business that lately has been thinking smaller, but doing more with ambitious yet inexpensive "real-life" pictures like this season's "Good Night, and Good Luck," about Edward R. Murrow's tussle with Joseph McCarthy, and "Capote," about that famous writer's journalistic entanglements.

"Bobby" is being made for between $5 million and $10 million, and it does not yet have a domestic distributor, but Mr. Estevez has assembled a roster of stars worthy of "The Towering Inferno." Along with Mr. Sheen and Mr. Estevez, the cast includes Anthony Hopkins, Demi Moore, William H. Macy, Harry Belafonte, Sharon Stone, Laurence Fishburne, Helen Hunt, Elijah Wood, Lindsay Lohan, Nick Cannon, Heather Graham, Ashton Kutcher, Freddy Rodríguez and Christian Slater, none of whom are receiving anything like a normal fee.

Like many indies, this film took a circuitous path to production. Mr. Estevez finished the script days before 9/11, then found that financiers wanted comedies, not, as he put it, "a big heavy drama about a national tragedy." In 2002, he cut a deal with a company that collapsed months later. When he finally found new financing last winter, he had to contemplate making the movie he had budgeted at $20 million for only $5 million.

The inspiration for Mr. Estevez's project, given his father's ties to the Kennedys, is a bit unexpected. He says that Robert F. Kennedy meant little to him growing up; he was only 6 when Kennedy died. But Mr. Sheen told him how the senator once shook young Emilio's hand at a Manhattan political rally. And when Mr. Sheen drove with Emilio from Mexico to Los Angeles in 1969, their first stop was at the Ambassador Hotel, to pay their respects.

But it was a publicity shoot at the Ambassador in 1999 - for "Rated X," in which he directed himself and his brother Charlie Sheen as two porn-producing brothers - that first gave Mr. Estevez the idea. As if to underline the thought, he said, that same night he went to a screening, and Kennedy's nephew Bobby Shriver sat down next to him.

Mr. Estevez set about researching and writing, but bogged down after 30 pages. He carried that sheaf of paper around in a bag for a year, he said, until his brother urged him to hit the road for inspiration. So he drove up the coast to Pismo Beach, and checked into a seedy motel, where the desk clerk, a woman in her mid-50's, recognized him and asked why he was there.

"I said I was writing a film about the day Bobby Kennedy was shot," Mr. Estevez said. "And she stops cold, holds onto the desk, and says, 'I was there.' "

The woman said she had been a Kennedy volunteer and had heard the assassin's shots. "Her name was Diane," he said. "And she became the bleeding heart through which all the blood flowed to this piece."

The result, after many edits and rewrites, is a screenplay that weaves together a version of Diane's story with those of a score of other guests and workers who Mr. Estevez imagines were at the Ambassador the day of the shooting. In this retelling, the extras are the main characters, and the main characters merely extras: Sirhan B. Sirhan is played by an unknown, and a look-alike is standing in for Kennedy in a few fleeting shots. (Mr. Estevez intends mainly to use news clips of Kennedy, including his "On to Chicago" victory speech from that night.)

"We really put the contents of the country, everybody, in this hotel, like a snow globe - you shake it up, and in fact in the end we bust it wide open," Mr. Estevez said.

Though his screenplay is laden with allusions to latter-day politics, Mr. Estevez insisted he was not making a political film. "The movie is really about a broken heart that we never recovered from," he said. "Bobby was the third strike. And out of Bobby we got Nixon, and we got Watergate, and we got real dark."

The Kennedy clan is aware of "Bobby": both Mr. Belafonte, a member of the R.F.K. Foundation's board, and Martin Sheen said they had assured the Kennedy family that the movie was intended as a homage. But Mr. Belafonte said he would not vouch for it to Ethel Kennedy "until I've seen the edit."

Mr. Estevez bided his time getting the movie financed by working as a director of television shows, where he learned to work fast, shooting 55 pages of script in eight days. "That was school for this," he said. With only 35 days of filming to work with on "Bobby," he is constantly setting up new shots, shooting one or two takes, and moving on - "the Clint Eastwood approach," Mr. Estevez called it.

"Bobby" is by far the most ambitious project in an directorial career that began with two duds, "Wisdom" (1986), made when he was 24, and the 1990 comedy "Men at Work" with Charlie Sheen. He later directed and starred with his father and Kathy Bates in "The War at Home," a well-received Vietnam homecoming drama in 1996, and last made "Rated X," which fared well at the 2000 Sundance festival before being picked up by Showtime.

"I dug in with this picture," he said. "I've been, for the most part, off the radar for a long time."

That, in fact, made "Bobby" more attractive to its financier, Bold Films, according to the production company's Belgian principal, Michel Litvak, who said he was focusing on unknown directors and those, like Mr. Estevez, whose careers have stalled. Bold's three films so far have not yet been released, but one, "Come Early Morning," starring Ashley Judd, is to have its premiere at Sundance.

"Why would somebody who's doing great go with us?" Mr. Litvak said. "He needed to have some crazy guy like me to pay for the whole thing, and be able to take a chance. I really hope that Emilio, after this movie, is going to skyrocket."

That said, Mr. Estevez's film first has to find an audience; before that, it has to find a distributor; and before that, it has to be finished.

Mr. Estevez said he was still wrestling with how to end the film; for now, he planned to depict the chaos of the kitchen-pantry shooting and its aftermath as Robert Kennedy's voice is heard responding to the killing of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. two months earlier: "What has violence ever accomplished?"

* Copyright 2005 The New York Times Company
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Postby lasvegaslynn » Fri Jan 06, 2006 10:06 am

Here's the link to LAObserved's article today about methane gas being found in the soil on the grounds of the Ambassador Hotel and how it might affect the cost and construction of the new schools:

http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me ... california

Also, it looks like demolition won't be completed until March.

Was down there earlier this week taking pictures and the eastern wing is gone.

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Postby nichols » Fri Jan 06, 2006 12:03 pm


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Postby lasvegaslynn » Fri Jan 06, 2006 3:06 pm

Also noted in LAObserved, Franklin Avenue and today's LA Times:

"Also, contrary to original plans, the school won't replicate the look of the hotel after all. But the district promises to keep the "iconic view from Wilshire," which means building the school in the same footprint as the hotel, and maintaining the grassy field between the Cocoanut Grove (the one part of the hotel that will remain) and Wilshire."


Perhaps the Ambassador Hotel is our Penn Station. Only after it's gone will everyone realize what we lost.

Hopefully someone much more eloquent than I can put it all into words for the entire city to read.

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RIP Ambassador Hotel

Postby lasvegaslynn » Tue Jan 17, 2006 8:59 am

A sad day for Angelenos and preservationists everywhere:


Kevin Roderick and others are reporting that the grand dame herself, the Ambassador Hotel (except for the Cocoanut Grove), is gone.


Read about it here (also with links to pictures): www.laobserved.com

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Postby nichols » Thu Jan 26, 2006 11:26 am

I saw that the rainbow GROVE sign was taken down this morning and was sitting in the driveway.... I've heard that the workers are pretty accesible and have made some donations... If anybody is interested.

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Postby lasvegaslynn » Thu Jan 26, 2006 11:39 am

It's being reported at LAObserved that the pantry where RFK was shot has been put into a steel container for storage but seems no one knows what to do with it.

The Kennedy family appears to be under the impression that the USD was going to destroy it so pieces wouldn't end up on Ebay.

But as Rohmer's second in command says "You can't just wake up one morning and decide to make it go away" (think he realizes how ironic that statement is??)

So, the pantry will sit in storage near a stripper billboard while USD decides to either destroy it or maybe donate it to the Smithsonian.

Can events connected to the Ambassador get any more surreal?????

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Roy Rohmer wants OUT

Postby lasvegaslynn » Fri Feb 10, 2006 8:47 pm

LAObserved has info on the front part of the Cocoanut Grove being destroyed earlier today.

Also, Roy Rohmer wants to leave his job early. Nine months before his contract expires, Rohmer is quoted as saying it's time for him to go. He'll stay if they need him, but he would prefer to go.

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Postby nichols » Mon Feb 13, 2006 11:17 am

You know, I'm certainly not wont to give LAUSD credit for anything in all of this, but it looks like they are trying to rebuild the Grove portion back to it's pre-1970 appearance. LOOK, those tall windows with the round tops. I've never seen those before. They were hidden under the NOW grove until this week.
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For more photos and great info, please visit the fine folks at http://ambassadorhotel.blogspot.com/
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I guess they just pushed that north wall waaay out and we never knew that original stuff was still back there.
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Postby lasvegaslynn » Mon Feb 13, 2006 1:38 pm

My favorite quote in the article regarding Romer (whose name someday I must learn to spell correctly) was the one that said in effect:

"He's awake and works here more often than most"

Glad to see LAUSD working hard when they're awake.

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Postby nichols » Thu Feb 16, 2006 12:13 pm

So it just gets weirder...this morning on the RAPID I saw workers carefully dismantling the stucco box that the sign pylon had been entombed in and there was some spectacular streamline sculpture hiding inside... I think we know it from the old pix but it's been hidden since before I was born...

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Postby darkamor » Thu Feb 23, 2006 3:51 am

I gave up on LOS ANGELES almost a decade ago .... look what they did near downtown ? Try to tear down an old Catholic Church near 6th Street because it's dome was damaged by earthquakes [while the Catholic Church sought a new location for a larger Church] and don't get me started on that so called "state of the art" multi story prison which sat empty cause LA was too cash strapped ..... :roll:

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Never thought the AMBASSADOR would be disrespected like this - what's next the WILTERN ?

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Postby nichols » Thu Oct 05, 2006 7:15 pm

http://bobby-the-movie.com/

I got all weepy watching the trailer...

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Postby nichols » Mon Nov 27, 2006 11:34 am

Virtual Ambassador Hotel courtesy of the Weinstein Company...

http://ambassador.bobby-the-movie.com/

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Postby nichols » Wed Jun 04, 2008 9:19 am


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Postby nichols » Thu Jun 05, 2008 4:10 pm

LOS ANGELES TIMES

Where history turned
Why didn't we preserve the actual site where Bobby Kennedy was shot 40 years ago?
June 5, 2008

FIRST, BECAUSE of what happened there 40 years ago today, it was a crime scene. Then it became evidence in a murder trial. The passage of time eased it from a place of horror to a place in history. And then bureaucracy consigned it -- most of it -- to a landfill...

http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/la- ... 313.column

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Postby nichols » Wed Sep 24, 2008 9:26 pm

"Ladies and Gentlemen, this is Hollywood, California and this is the historic Cocoanut Grove. No place on Earth more completely symbolizes the glitter and glamour of the entertainment world..."

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ee_3Nb-k-6Q

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Postby nichols » Mon Oct 13, 2008 11:50 am

Diane Keaton on the Ambassador Hotel lesson:
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LOS ANGELES TIMES

Opinion

The Ambassador Hotel lesson

Demolishing such iconic buildings not only destroys history, it wastes resources.

By Diane Keaton
October 13, 2008

Last week, I drove past the 22-acre vacant lot once known as the Ambassador Hotel. As I looked at the rubble of our lost cause, I pulled over, sat back and gave in to a feeling I can only describe as guilt. I thought about my connection to the once-iconic hotel, about why places like it are so difficult to save, and about what it takes to be a better, more effective advocate for historic buildings.

I was just a little girl the first time I visited the Ambassador. My father held my hand and led me down a long hallway before we stopped in front of an ornate facade. I remember Dad's smile as he slowly opened the door to ... the fabulous Cocoanut Grove nightclub! In the magic of a perfect moment, I looked up and saw a parade of dreams etched across the face of the man I loved more than anyone in the world. It was at that moment that something clicked inside my little 9-year-old brain, something that helps me, even today, believe in the ability of the built world to change the trajectory of our lives.

In our battle against the Los Angeles Unified School District's decision to tear down the Ambassador and put up a new school, we made many arguments. We focused on "reuse" as an economic incentive. The LAUSD wasn't buying it. We hired a team of architects to come up with options that would transform Myron Hunt's 350,000-square-foot building into a series of classrooms, administrative offices and low- and moderate-income housing. That didn't fly either. Neither did the argument that the Ambassador was a national landmark, or that six Oscar ceremonies had been hosted there, or that Judy Garland, Frank Sinatra and even Barbra Streisand broke hearts on the stage of the Cocoanut Grove. It didn't matter. Nothing stopped the Ambassador from becoming another little death of no consequence...

http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/com ... 0632.story

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Postby nichols » Thu Jun 25, 2009 12:25 pm

I recently paid a visit to the site.

http://www.lamag.com/do/blog.aspx?id=17020

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Postby moderns-r-us » Fri Jun 26, 2009 11:51 am

Chris:

Was the Tom Hanks film "That Thing You Do" patially filmed at the coffee shop and entry to the Ambassador or a facimile of it? I would swear that it was the same space and floral wallpaper as in the movie "Bobby."
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