Arco Towers to get makeover

ARCHITECTURE AND PRESERVATION NEWS for the Los Angeles Conservancy Modern Committee (ModCom) and other Mid Century Modern, Googie, International, Art Deco, 20th Century design

Moderators: I_LUV_POWER!!!!, Joe, Adriene, moderns-r-us, Tony, Futura Girl, sean, Josh Geidel, nichols, Java

User avatar
nichols
Lotta Living Host
Lotta Living Host
Posts: 9337
Joined: Wed Oct 16, 2002 1:16 pm
Location: The wooded highlands of Altadena, Calif.

Arco Towers to get makeover

Postby nichols » Fri Jul 18, 2003 2:51 pm

1973 AC Martin hi-rises in Downtown Los Angeles:


LA Times
July 16, 2003

Landmark Arco Plaza Getting a Slick New Look
Downtown towers' makeover will include nightly light show, elaborate fountains and European-style piazza.
 
   By Roger Vincent, Times Staff Writer
Arco Plaza is going to lighten up.
Los Angeles developer James A. Thomas revealed plans Tuesday for a $125-million makeover of the downtown landmark, two dark-green marble and glass towers across the street from the Central Library. Among Thomas' ideas: a nightly light show of brightly colored laser beams bouncing between the towers many stories above the street-level courtyard.
Thomas beat out several other bidders this year with a reported $270-million offer for the 2.7-million-square-foot office and retail complex, which fills a city block in the financial district.
The previous owner, Japan-based Shuwa Investment Corp., paid $640 million in 1986. Shuwa didn't improve the dated underground mall or substantially upgrade the elevators, air conditioning system or other basic operating functions.
The 52-story towers between 5th and 6th streets were a commanding presence on the skyline when they opened in 1973, and the property was considered a premier business address in Los Angeles for years before newer, taller skyscrapers eclipsed it in the late 1980s.
Now, Thomas — who built some of those newer high-rises with Robert Maguire — wants to make Arco Plaza competitive with the trophy properties the pair built, including Library Tower and Wells Fargo Center. Thomas left the former Maguire Partners in the mid-1990s, as the company contracted in the recession, and formed Thomas Properties Group.
He recalled that when he and Maguire first saw Arco Plaza, it "was the preeminent project, and both of us looked at it with great envy."
"The opportunity after all these years to get the ownership of the project and to restore it to that preeminent position is a challenge to me," Thomas said, "that is sort of like coming full circle in my career."
To do that, he hired the towers' original design firm, Los Angeles architects A.C. Martin Partners, to oversee the improvements. David Martin, who's in charge of design for the firm, described the buildings designed by his father, Albert, as "classic modernism, beautifully executed."
What the property doesn't do very well, Martin says, is entice people in off the sidewalk.
"In those days, people built buildings much more like islands," he said. "We want to reconnect it to the city at a number of levels."
That process will begin at each corner with free-standing illuminated glass signs identifying the plaza — which eventually will get a new name.
Along the sidewalk on Flower Street will be several fountains created by Wet Design, the Universal City-based company that built the elaborate fountains in front of the Bellagio hotel in Las Vegas.
Wet also will re-engineer the bubbling fountain in the center of the courtyard to add light and movement around Herbert Bayer's red sculpture, "Double Ascension," which will remain the focal point of the plaza.
Martin collaborated with landscape architect Laurie Olin to design a new central public plaza in the style of a European piazza. Plans include translucent canopies that cantilever from the towers to shade tables and chairs that can be moved to accommodate large events. There will be a restaurant on the ground floor of each tower.
The three-story building in the center of the plaza — now a Bank of America branch — may become a museum, restaurant or cafes.
A bit of Las Vegas also may come to the property's gloomy underground shopping mall, where tenants have struggled to get business and several of the stores are shuttered. Thomas plans a pattern of graphics and lighting to give visitors the impression they are outdoors, a technique perfected by casino operators who want to keep gamblers inside.
As for the lower of the underground's two floors, Thomas said he may close it off. One floor up, he said, the right mix of tenants will include fast-food restaurants, which should prosper from visits by tower tenants and others who work and live nearby.
Perhaps the most dramatic addition to the property was inspired by Martin's memory of visits to downtown as a child in the 1950s, when he was dazzled by the sign on the old Richfield building that spelled out the oil company's name in sequence and the flying red horse that flapped its neon wings atop the Mobil Oil headquarters.
"I wanted to bring back the special feature of a light show," Martin said, "so I got the idea to bounce light from one tower to another."
The design will be created by an artist chosen through an international competition, but Martin envisions a "cat's cradle" of laser beams connecting the towers, perhaps the first such light bridge in the U.S.
"People are drawn to light," said Dean Schwanke, a real estate trend analyst at the Urban Land Institute in Washington.
"It could add excitement at night without detracting from the corporate image you want to project during the daytime."
Work on parts of the upgrade have begun and will be completed over two years. The towers' offices are about 60% occupied, Thomas said; he added that he was negotiating with several possible lessees. Real estate sources say City National Bank is perhaps the biggest tenant he is courting.
Oil company Arco was sold to BP in 2000; the owners of the former company are paying rent on a lease that includes rights to keep the Arco name on the property for another year, Thomas said. After that, the complex will be renamed.
Watching the improvements at the plaza with great interest is tenant Stuart Laff, who was a project manager for Arco when the towers were built. He encouraged architecture and engineering firm Daniel Mann Johnson & Mendenhall, at which he is a vice president, to move to Arco Plaza in 2001.
He was betting that DMJM could lock in low rent in a building that might be substantially renovated by a new owner.
"That has all come about," he said.

User avatar
Nathan
Special Secret Modern Agent
Posts: 603
Joined: Sat Aug 24, 2002 9:29 am
Location: Highland Park 42, Calif.
Contact:

Postby Nathan » Sat Jul 19, 2003 7:19 am

The only solace one can take from the demolition of the Richfield Building (Morgan, Walls & Clements 1928-9 oil-themed paean to New York deco--setback style, sexy black and gold skin like Hood's American Radiator Bldng) is that the Arco Plaza towers were so damn good. And yet rather than leaving them with the peaceful solemnity they deserve, they're going to be tarted up like a twelve-year-old-girl's notebook.

I mean, aren't there more than enough second-rate hirises downtown to bastardize? Ones that wouldn't look quite so goofy with laser beams shooting from them? Sorry to be a grump, but the Arco towers are like proud dowagers having fun poked at them. Like giant twin Margaret Dumonts.

I understand that it's only natural LA go the way of Vegas--we've already got jumbo TVs on Wilshire and in Hollywood--and it's only a matter of time before characters like British Petroleum turn all of downtown from sepia-hued haven of history to a brite n' flashy enclave of clamor and cacaphony. I was just hoping there'd be a few noble holdouts on the march toward Vegasization, and was counting on the Arco towers to retain their dignity. But alas, they're the first to go.

At least, perhaps, BP will rename project "Richfield Plaza." But I doubt it. I have to assume it will be dubbed "Angelyne's Star-riffic Condoz and Wacky Water Park of El Lay."

User avatar
Futura Girl
Lotta Living Hostess
Lotta Living Hostess
Posts: 4161
Joined: Wed Aug 14, 2002 11:54 pm
Location: Las VEGAS babay!
Contact:

Postby Futura Girl » Mon Jul 21, 2003 5:48 pm

ViVA Las VEgas!!!

if they are to create a faux exterior inside the Arco underground ahopping center - it should be in a space age theme - like you are out under the stars at night with spaceships wizzing by overhead!

User avatar
nichols
Lotta Living Host
Lotta Living Host
Posts: 9337
Joined: Wed Oct 16, 2002 1:16 pm
Location: The wooded highlands of Altadena, Calif.

Postby nichols » Tue Jul 22, 2003 1:37 pm

My favorite part of the story is the plan to close off an entire floor of the shopping center. Phantom '70s floor... I can see it deteriorating now, chipped avocado tiles, slimy orange formica.. ooooh.

User avatar
Nathan
Special Secret Modern Agent
Posts: 603
Joined: Sat Aug 24, 2002 9:29 am
Location: Highland Park 42, Calif.
Contact:

Postby Nathan » Tue Jul 22, 2003 4:29 pm

If they can remake Night of the Living Dead, why not Dawn of the Dead, the greatest zombies-go-shopping-in-an-abandoned mall picture ever made? Not that it's terribly far from that now...

...there's a nice early 70s shot of the Redi-Mart on the LAPL, if http://catalog1.lapl.org:80/cgi-bin/cw_ ... 23191+18+0 doesn't load carlweb3.8 you can always go in yourself and type in "Arco lower level store"...

Don-O
Modern Socialite
Posts: 86
Joined: Tue Feb 25, 2003 8:11 am
Location: somewhere stuck in the Cenertal California?
Contact:

Postby Don-O » Wed Jul 30, 2003 4:59 pm

WOW! Good thing I took pictures of the "areas" inside the place. I still love those mirroed area around the escelators.

Don-O
For further details:
http://donosdump.com

Image

User avatar
Lynxwiler
Modern Guru
Posts: 1302
Joined: Thu Aug 29, 2002 10:06 am
Location: Far from the crowds in downtown LA

Postby Lynxwiler » Wed Jul 30, 2003 9:34 pm

That never-seen-the-light-of-day labyrinth of closed commercial space in the basement is pretty darn cool. Look for the boarded up Italian theme restauarants with foam rockwork and broken fountains amidst the flourescent lighting and brown tile.

Eeeww.

KevinEP
Modern Master
Posts: 162
Joined: Sat Jun 05, 2004 3:40 pm
Location: Los Angeles
Contact:

LA Times vacancy story

Postby KevinEP » Mon Jul 19, 2010 6:24 pm

http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/lanow/2 ... t-era.html

High-rise penthouses sit empty in downtown L.A., relics from a different era
July 19, 2010 | 6:49 pm

Kent S. Handleman of Thomas Properties Group stands in the former headquarters of Arco on Flower Street in downtown L.A., where bosses set themselves up in palatial quarters that still command awe even though the company cleared out more than a decade ago.

Views are offered even while washing your hands in a bathroom at the former Bank of America headquarters, which is next door to the former headquarters of Arco. The executive offices on the top floor have been empty since 2004.
The chief executives at Atlantic Richfield Co., the oil company once based in Los Angeles, ran their international empire from some of the most regal corporate offices ever created in Southern California.

With Arco's 20-foot ceilings, dark wood paneling and private rooftop helipad, "this was corporate America as people thought of it," said Kent Handleman of Thomas Properties Group Inc., the building's landlord.

That was then. Nowadays, the landlord can't find a renter for the space's 1970s-era sumptuousness.

Buttons at the receptionist desk in the former Arco headquarters. The building is now called City National Tower.
There are also plenty of other catbird seats for choosy chief executives to pick from. Penthouse office floors with drop-dead views are vacant in some of the best office buildings in Los Angeles County, a sign of the troubled economic times and the gulf between what landlords think their top-shelf product is worth and what tenants are willing to pay.

--Roger Vincent


Return to “Mid Century Modern Preservation Discussion”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 5 guests