Pickford Center for Motion Picture Study
Rising confidently from the corner of Vine Street and Fountain Avenue, the former Don Lee Mutual Broadcast Building is a magnificent example of the Late Moderne style and an important part of Hollywood history. The three-story concrete building was completed in 1948 and contained radio and television facilities that required large, specially engineered windowless rooms for use as studios. Architect Claud Beelman, in association with Herman Spackler, broke the design into two large masses with a central recessed entryway punctuated by dramatic, perforated vertical elements. It was classic Beelman, who was known for his bold Art Deco and Streamline Moderne commercial designs like the Eastern Columbia Building.
The then-largest studio ever built for simultaneous television and radio transmission, the building was the crown jewel in the pioneering broadcasting dynasty founded by Cadillac franchisee Don Lee. The facility’s offices, sound stages, studios, and announcers’ booths were used by a number of different networks over the years, producing everything from Johnny Carson’s pre-Tonight Show programs to Barney Miller.
The building was beautifully rehabilitated in 2001-2002, adapting the interior spaces to hold the offices and film archive of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. The oldest surviving studio building designed for television broadcasting, the former Don Lee Mutual Broadcast Building is architecturally self-assured, unmistakably modern, and undeniably Hollywood.