Capitol Records Tower | Los Angeles Conservancy
Photo by Adrian Scott Fine/L.A. Conservancy

Capitol Records Tower

Designed by Welton Becket and Associates as the world’s first circular office tower, the Capitol Records Tower was completed in 1956 and became an instantly recognizable icon of modern architecture.

The iconic building also advanced a new corporate identity for Capitol Records, the first major record label on the West Coast. Singer Johnny Mercer founded the label in 1942 with music store owner Glenn Wallichs and Buddy DeSylva, a songwriter and producer at Paramount Pictures.

The thirteen-story tower is notable for its circular plan and ninety-foot aluminum spire with a beacon that blinks out H-O-L-L-Y-W-O-O-D in Morse code.

Located at 1750 North Vine Street near the legendary intersection of Hollywood and Vine, the Capitol Records Tower was the first height-limit office building constructed in Hollywood after World War II.

 

 

The Capitol Records Tower was designed by the prominent Los Angeles firm of Welton Becket and Associates, with architect Louis Naidorf serving as project designer.

Contrary to popular belief, the building’s design did not intentionally resemble a stack of records. Its unique shape primarily sought unabashed cost-efficiency, with the reduced area of the exterior walls saving on both construction and air-conditioning. Naidorf didn’t even know who the client was when he proposed his circular design.

The Capitol Records Tower featured the most advanced technical amenities of its time, including an automated elevator system. Yet the most striking innovation lay in the three recording studios underneath the tower, the first ever designed for high-fidelity recording. The underground reverberation chambers, located below the parking lot east of the structure, were designed with help from guitar pioneer Les Paul and have remained in high demand ever since. The recording studios at Capitol Records have hosted legendary recording sessions by such artists as Frank Sinatra, Nat “King” Cole, The Beatles, and The Beach Boys.

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