Claud Beelman | Los Angeles Conservancy

Claud Beelman

Claud Beelman (1884-1963)

Few architects have left an impression on downtown Los Angeles as broad and lasting as Claud Beelman. One of the leading architects of the Art Deco and Moderne movements on the West Coast, he helped bring a city from the Beaux-Arts styling of the previous century to the forefront of twentieth-century design. 

Born in Bellafontaine, Ohio in 1884, Beelman attended architecture school at Harvard. He worked on the East Coast and in the Midwest before arriving in Los Angeles in 1921.  

He formed a partnership with Aleck Curlett, son of noted San Francisco architect William Curlett. The firm of Curlett and Beelman designed many buildings in the prevailing styles of the early twentieth century, from Beaux Arts to Italian Renaissance and Romanesque Revival. Their early projects include the Barker Bros. Building (1925), Roosevelt Building (1925), Elks Lodge (1925), Pershing Square Building (1924), and Heinsbergen Decorating Company studio (1925).

In the late 1920s, while still partnering with Curlett, Beelman began designing on his own. He departed from the Beaux-Arts buildings that filled the downtown cityscape and injected fresh Art Deco and Moderne designs. His important designs of this period include the Sun-Realty Building (1931), Ninth & Broadway (1930), and the Garfield Building (1928-29). He is best known for one of the most beloved buildings in Los Angeles, the brilliant, turquoise Eastern Columbia Building (1930). 

After World War II, Beelman embarked on yet another path, embracing Modern design. His work in the 1950s and 1960s featured sleek office buildings with clean lines, new materials, and a clear eye toward the future.

Now called Central Plaza, Beelman’s original Tishman Plaza was a group of three contemporary buildings on Wilshire Boulevard built to attract other corporate giants to Los Angeles. Beelman also designed downtown’s Superior Oil Company headquarters (1955, now the Standard Downtown Hotel), Westwood’s Occidental Petroleum building (1962, which now houses the UCLA Hammer museum), and Union Bank Center in mid-Wilshire (1963, later Getty Oil headquarters and now The Mercury condominiums). 

Beelman died in 1963, immersed in creating Modern buildings that helped define postwar Southern California.

Photo courtesy Architectural Resources Group

The Standard, Downtown LA

One of the finest examples of the Corporate Moderne style in Los Angeles, this 1955 building now thrives as a hip hotel.
Photo by Annie Laskey/L.A. Conservancy

Ninth and Broadway Building

Visitors stepping into Claud Beelman's 1930 Ninth and Broadway Building are treated to a dramatic two-story entrance, recessed with heavy piers capped by a segmented arch.
Harbor Building
Photo courtesy Architectural Resources Group

Harbor Building

Combining Corporate International and Late Moderne styles, Claud Beelman's Harbor Building on Wilshire Boulevard is one of the era's most impressive corporate buildings.
Photo by Hunter Kerhart

Central Plaza

"We think Wilshire will be the New York of the West Coast," said this building's developer, Norman Tishman.
Don Lee Mutual Broadcast Building
Photo by Devri Richmond

Pickford Center for Motion Picture Study

Architecturally self-assured, unmistakably modern, and undeniably Hollywood, upon its completion in 1948 the former Don Lee Mutual Broadcast Building was the then-largest studio built for simultaneous television and radio transmission.
Photo by Adrian Scott Fine/L.A. Conservancy

Eastern Columbia Lofts

From its spectacular clock tower emblazoned with the name Eastern in neon down to its multi-colored terrazzo sidewalks, this 1930 downtown landmark was one of the largest buildings constructed in downtown until after WWII.
Garfield Building
Photo by Annie Laskey/L.A. Conservancy

Garfield Building

This twelve-story structure gracefully combines Art Deco geometry and the floral swirl of the Art Nouveau style.