Century Plaza Hotel
Designed by Minoru Yamasaki for ALCOA, the hotel opened in 1966 and illustrates Yamasaki's love of ornamentation through materials and pattern.
In 2021 the Century Plaza Hotel reopened following a rehabilitation and construction of new towers at the rear.
Los Angeles, California 90067
With the Conservancy’s full support, the Los Angeles City Council approved the Century Plaza Mixed-Use Development in January 2013 that preserved the iconic Century Plaza Hotel as the centerpiece of the new project. It was the culmination of months of intensive advocacy transforming ultimately into collaboration with the developer Next Century Associates to find a solution that maintains the hotel as a historic resource while meeting the project’s goals for mixed uses, open space, and increased pedestrian access.
The rehabilitation of the Century Plaza Hotel began in late 2016 and reopened in 2021. The hotel remained closed during construction, with phased openings of retail, hotel rooms, and residences as they are completed.
The historic building was reused as both hotel space and condominiums, and retains more than ninety percent of its significant historic features. Two new towers (compatible with Century City’s skyline) were built at the rear of the property, which had been significantly altered over the years; additional retail and restaurants will be added to the site.
The hotel was designated a Historic-Cultural Monument (HCM) in December 2013, which allowed the City’s Cultural Heritage Commission to review and approve the rehabilitation plans.
The Conservancy is extremely grateful to then-Councilmember Paul Koretz for his leadership in bringing everyone to the table, and to his staff for their dedication to finding a preservation solution. We also commend Next Century Associates for their willingness to work with the Conservancy and the National Trust for Historic Preservation to find a win-win solution.
To everyone who has written a letter (hundreds!), made a phone call, taken the pledge (we received 1,300!), or otherwise voiced your support for saving the Century Plaza Hotel, thank you! You have truly made a difference in our efforts.
About This Place
About This Place
Opened in 1966 as the centerpiece of Century City, the 19-story curved hotel has been a prominent Los Angeles landmark for more than four decades. From its prime perch fronting the spectacular fountains on the Avenue of the Stars, the Century Plaza’s sweeping modern design strongly evokes the exuberant optimism of the 1960s. Designed by renowned architect Minoru Yamasaki, who would later design New York’s World Trade Center twin towers, the hotel incorporates Yamasaki’s ornamental, textural and sculptural trademarks. Yamasaki also designed the 1975 twin Century Plaza towers, the striking triangular buildings east of the hotel.
Billed as the showpiece for the $50 million Century City development, the Century Plaza Hotel was touted as hosting “twenty stories and one million square feet of luxury.” Yamasaki, one of the leaders of the New Formalist movement, designed the hotel with elements of Mid-Century Modernism as well as New Formalism.
The hotel illustrates Yamasaki’s love of ornamentation through materials and pattern, with repetitive concrete balconies that create a strong shadow pattern as they span the building’s crescent-shaped façade. At the time of the hotel’s construction, Western International Hotels’ company president Edward Carlson stated, “We’re not striving to build the biggest hotel in the nation. We just asked Mr. Yamasaki to create the most beautiful hotel in the world.”
The Century Plaza Hotel is not just a pretty face. It is linked to countless events of historic importance such as awards presentations, presidential press conferences, political fundraisers, peace rallies and protests, inaugural celebrations, and all types of social gatherings, including charity balls, galas, and annual awards presentations.
In August 1969, the first and only Presidential State Dinner ever held outside the White House was hosted at the Century Plaza Hotel to honor the Apollo 11 Mission. The “Welcome Back to Earth” celebration was nationally televised and attended by the astronauts and their families, along with countless celebrities, politicians and dignitaries.
Popular with U.S. presidents, the Hotel is perhaps most closely associated with the political career of President Ronald Reagan who stayed at the hotel for long stretches and held many of his fundraisers and inaugural celebrations in its ballroom.
In December 2008, the owners of the Century Plaza Hotel in Century City announced plans to raze the building and replace it with a mixed-use development including two 600-foot towers. The owners, Next Century Associates, proposed a plan that would include a boutique hotel, condominiums, mixed-use space, and open space.
The Conservancy responded to the proposed demolition with a range of efforts, including building broad public support for the hotel’s preservation, making it a campaign issue in the 2009 Fifth Council District election, and nominating the hotel as one of the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s list of America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places. The National Trust announced this listing in April 2009, and they have closely partnered with the Conservancy on this issue ever since.
In June 2009, the City of Los Angeles Planning Department issued a Notice of Preparation for the environmental impact report (EIR) for the proposed replacement project. The public had the opportunity to comment on the project’s potential environmental impacts and alternatives that should be considered in the EIR. The City received 200 letters urging that the hotel be considered as a historic resource in the EIR.
In July 2009, Los Angeles City Councilmember Paul Koretz at the time filed a motion to nominate the hotel for designation as a Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monument. He also encouraged all parties to come together and seek a preservation solution which they did, beginning in November 2009.
Following several months of concentrated and productive meetings, the Conservancy, the National Trust, and Next Century Associates announced plans in February 2010 for a revised development project that would preserve the famed hotel.
The revised project preserves the iconic building as the centerpiece of new mixed-use development. The building will be reused as both hotel space and condominiums, and it will retain more than ninety percent of its significant historic features. Two new towers (compatible with Century City’s skyline) were proposed for the rear of the property, which had been significantly altered over the years.
To meet property owner Next Century Associates’ goal of creating a pedestrian-friendly environment, the sunken plaza in front of the hotel was filled in to more closely connect the structure with Avenue of the Stars. The ballroom, which has been highly altered, was replaced with a slightly smaller ballroom that will still be the largest on the Westside. The lobby’s glass windows were removed to create a breezeway through the property. The project allowed for very small, one-story construction in front of the hotel building, carefully placed to maintain the view of the structure’s sweeping arc.
Architecture firm Marmol Radziner and Associates created detailed protocols for the treatment of the building’s historic features. This groundbreaking research—particularly into the treatment of aluminum, which came into widespread use in the 1960s and was used extensively in the Century Plaza Hotel—will benefit not only the hotel building but many other historic resources from the sixties and beyond.
The Los Angeles Cultural Heritage Commission reviewed the revised project in September 2010 and determined that it maintains the Century Plaza’s eligibility for listing as a Historic-Cultural Monument (HCM).
In July 2011, the draft environmental impact report (DEIR) for the development project was released. The “preferred project” and several alternatives preserve the hotel building as the centerpiece. The project allows for the reuse of the hotel building and development of the property in a way that maintains the building’s eligibility as both an HCM and for listing in the California Register of Historical Resources. To this end, architecture and preservation firm Architectural Resources Group, Inc. conducted an independent historic evaluation of the project.
The project ultimately approved by the City Council in January 2013 will retain and rehabilitate the hotel and add two 46-story residential towers, a 100,000 square foot retail plaza, and more than 2 acres of public open space.
The Conservancy and the National Trust continued their involvement through a Preservation Advisory Group that reviewed the preservation of the hotel as it developed. Significant documentation has been done to identify the building’s historic features, and the preparation of a detailed Historic Structure Report is underway.