Columbia Savings (Demolished) | Los Angeles Conservancy
1965 postcard view, courtesy Marcello Vavala.

Columbia Savings (Demolished)

The 1965 Columbia Savings building on the Miracle Mile was demolished in January 2010 despite an intensive preservation effort. The building was an important example of postwar bank design as well as the innovative integration of art and architecture. Most recently, the building had served as Wilshire Grace Church.

This issue underscores the plight of buildings from our recent past that are not yet fully understood or appreciated. The Conservancy and our Modern Committee are working hard to build awareness of our rich legacy of 1960s architecture, but we clearly have far to go.

The Columbia Savings building was designed by architect Irving Shapiro and completed in 1965.

The result of a design competition for the new Home Office of Columbia Savings and Loan Association, Shapiro’s winning design was selected over competing entries from Charles Luckman Associates and the Bank Building & Equipment Corporation of America.

The iconic building was profiled in the prestigious French architecture journal L’architecture d’aujourd’hui the following year.

American bank architecture underwent an incredible transformation following World War II. As financial institutions nationwide analyzed the need for progressive banking methods, architects responded by radically reinventing the bank’s form.

With its bold design, expansive use of glass for transparency, and integrated program of abstract art, the Columbia Savings building was an exceptional example of national postwar banking trends.

Displaying the influence of New Formalism, the building’s modernist form and symmetry represented a reinterpretation of the classically inspired banks of the turn-of-the-twentieth century.

Exceptional signage included two sculptural pylons soaring eighty-five-feet tall. Visible from great distances, their incredible height marked the evolution of building signage in response to Los Angeles’ auto-oriented society.

The bank's design integrated significant works of abstract art, including a 45-foot-long brass screen-waterfall sculptural fountain by local artist Taki and a 1,300-square-foot dalle-de-verre (faceted glass) stained-glass skylight by acclaimed artist Roger Darricarrere that crowned the interior light well. These works were salvaged for sale before the building's demolition.

Photo by Adrian Scott Fine / L.A. Conservancy

The Factory

The 1929 Factory building embodies a number of significant historical patterns in West Hollywood, from the development of the entertainment industry to the rise of nightlife visibly catering to the gay community.
Courtesy Ben Weber

Museum of Neon Art (MONA)

What began forty years ago with two artists and a few discarded signs has flourished into a well-respected museum, preserving and celebrating the rich cultural history of L.A. through its neon lights.