More than just an entertainer, Lawrence Welk was also a canny developer who put his mark on Santa Monica with the Champagne Towers apartment complex and the General Telephone high-rise office tower.
Genial television bandleader Lawrence Welk was more than just an entertainer—he was also a canny developer who put his mark on the built environment of Santa Monica with his 1970s construction of Lawrence Welk Plaza. The development originally contained two buildings: the Champagne Towers apartment complex and the General Telephone high-rise office tower.
The General Telephone building, named so because the telephone company occupied the majority of the property, was completed in 1971 and remains a landmark of Late Modern design. Architectural firm Daniel, Mann, Johnson and Mendenhall (DMJM) created a streamlined twenty-one-story tower with smooth, white metal cladding punctuated by simple horizontal bands of windows.
The windows wrap continuously around all four façades, curving aerodynamically around the corners in a sleek application of glass skin technology.
Cylindrical white piers support the building as massive columns at their bases and then shoot up the sides for a striking vertical effect. Now known as 100 Wilshire, the building is sometimes described as “the refrigerator” for its pure white surfaces and simple rectangular plan. At its corner location where Wilshire Boulevard ends at the Pacific Ocean, this futuristic building is a fitting focal point for Santa Monica and a surprising tribute to the traditional entertainer who dreamed it up.