Pacific Design Center | Los Angeles Conservancy
Pacific Design Center
Photo courtesy Architectural Resources Group

Pacific Design Center

Rising from the center of what used to be a low-scale residential and commercial area of West Hollywood, the Pacific Design Center is an enormous, and enormously colorful, landmark both beloved and reviled by its neighbors.

Designed by architect Cesar Pelli and Norma Merrick Sklarek for Gruen Associates, the complex was created to serve as a multi-use facility for the design community, containing everything from workshops to showrooms to restaurants. It rose in three major stages. The first (1975) was Center Blue, an enormous, bright blue building that almost immediately became known as "The Blue Whale" for its outrageous size and hue. Next (1988) came Center Green, a huge, faceted, bright green building. In 2011, the two buildings were joined by Center Red, a suitably gargantuan, pointedly curving, bright red building.

All of the buildings epitomize Pelli's slick glass skin design, in a Late Modern idiom that obviously embraces exaggerated planes, unusual shapes, and cheerful colors. Pelli conceived of the buildings as oversized fragments fallen to earth, and indeed that is what they look like. They are united by central courtyards and walkways, but their interiors are much larger than any surrounding landscaped areas. Love it or hate it, the Pacific Design Center has become an icon of glass skin design and construction and a landmark of undeniable impact.

Los Angeles Jewelry Center
Photo from Conservancy archives

Los Angeles Jewelry Center

Shining emerald green in the sun, this terra cotta-clad building from 1931 was designed by Claud Beelman for Sun Realty.
Photo by Tom Davies

U.S. Bank Glendale

This graceful Late Modern bank building transcends the standard corporate glass-box design of the 1970s.
Photo courtesy Architectural Resources Group

Moore-Rogger-Hofflander Condominium Building

Exhibiting architect Charles Moore's hallmark rearranging of geometric volumes and sense of humor, this complex is a great expression of Late Modern design and of the vision an architect can have for his own home.