Century Plaza Hotel
Billed as the showpiece for the $50 million Century City development, the Century Plaza Hotel was designed by architect Minoru Yamasaki for owner-developer Aluminum Company of America (ALCOA). The hotel opened in 1966 and was billed 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.