Los Angeles Center Studios | Los Angeles Conservancy
Los Angeles Center Studios
Photo courtesy www.you-are-here.com

Los Angeles Center Studios

Upon its 1958 completion, the Union Oil Center added its twelve stories to its already-lofty site at the corner of Fifth and Boylston Streets to become the highest building in downtown Los Angeles.

The headquarters of Union Oil foresaw the ever-higher vertical growth of downtown's office buildings, as well as the horizontal expansion of the city's central business district beyond the grid defined by the 101, 110, and 10 freeways. In this case, Union Oil brought a major industrial office presence to Crown Hill, a neighborhood best known for affordable housing and its 1890s oil boom.

Architects William Pereira and Charles Luckman designed the Miesian-style hexagonal tower as part of a complex including a rectangular inner courtyard, two low tower-adjacent wings, a large subterranean parking garage, and elevated pedestrian bridges connecting to an auditorium and cafeteria building. The tower has distinctive angled front and rear façades covered with a grid of thin aluminum louvers protecting the offices within from the sun.

Once threatened with demolition, in 1998 a group of developers purchased the complex and added six large sound stages to create what would become Los Angeles Center Studios. The successful adaptive reuse of the Union Oil Center, including the "vertical backlot" of its original tower, brightly illustrates the potential for new uses of historic buildings by all kinds of occupants.

Photo by Gary Leonard/Los Angeles Public Library

777 Tower

One of downtown's most graceful high-rise office buildings, the 777 Tower designed by Cesar Pelli effortlessly pierces the downtown skyline with subtle articulation and detail.
Photo courtesy Architectural Resources Group

Valley Plaza Tower

A distinctive Valley landmark that was among the first skyscrapers built in L.A. after the 1957 repeal of a 150-foot height limit, this Corporate International style building dominated the North Hollywood landscape for years.