Located at the intersection of First and Spring Streets, the Times-Mirror Square complex consists of several structures built between 1935 and 1973. It contains more than 700,000 square feet of office space and includes the Los Angeles Times Building, a grand example of Art Deco and Moderne architecture, and a 1970s addition by modernist William L. Pereira.
Local master architect Gordon B. Kaufmann designed the Los Angeles Times Building, which opened in 1935. The building features powerful vertical ribs, which impart a sense of monumentality as they lead the viewer’s eye up to the iconic letters etched onto the side of the building: “The Times.”
Kaufmann’s design for the building won a gold medal at the 1937 Paris Exposition.
Robert Merrell Gage designed limestone sculptures for the First Street elevation, which represent stylized newspaper motifs.
The highlight of the interior of the 1935 building is the glittering Globe Lobby, famous for its aluminum globe, 5 ½ feet in diameter, set atop a bronze pedestal. Ten-foot high murals by artist Hugo Ballin adorn the walls of the lobby, depicting scenes from L.A. history and the newspaper industry. Ballin is also known for painting the rotunda at the Griffith Observatory.
The Times Building’s monumentality, as well as its proximity to City Hall, demonstrated the newspaper's relationship to politics and civic power during the 1930s.
In 1948, Rowland H. Crawford designed a ten-story auxiliary structure, also in the Moderne style to complement Kaufmann's building.
In 1973, William L. Pereira designed an immense six-story glass and steel structure on the northwest corner of the complex, which would become the new corporate headquarters of the Times-Mirror Company. Though distinct from the earlier Art Deco buildings, Pereira’s International-Style wing recapitulates the geometric order and monumentality of the Kaufmann structure.
The Los Angeles Times began publication in December 1881 as the Los Angeles Daily Times. Initially unsuccessful and unable to pay its bills, the paper's operation was sold to the Mirror Company, forming the Times Mirror Company. The Times Mirror Company would go on to publish the Los Angeles Times until 2000, when it was acquired by the Chicago-based Tribune Company.
In 1882, retired Union Army Captain Harrison Gray Otis became the Times’ editor, a position he held until his passing in 1917.
Under Otis, the Times became a financial success and a platform for regional boosterism, which included support for the electric railways, the forcible acquisition of water from the Owens Valley, and the development of the Port of Los Angeles in San Pedro.
Personally and financially invested in the future of Los Angeles, Otis, and by extension the Los Angeles Times, was vehemently anti-union, hoping that low wages would attract industry from other employment centers such as San Francisco. As a result, the paper was a target of early twentieth century labor activists. On October 1, 1910, two Irish-born steel workers dynamited the original Times headquarters at First Street and Broadway. The bombing and subsequent trial became a cause celebre for the American labor movement.
Otis' son-in-law, Harry Chandler, inherited the business in 1917. Chandler combined his influence at the Times with substantial real estate holdings and membership on more than fifty corporate boards to become a leading civic voice. He commissioned Gordon B. Kaufmann to design the new Times Building, which opened in 1935.
The tenure of Otis Chandler, the publisher of the Times from 1960 to 1980, marked the end of the Chandler dynasty. He oversaw the modernization of the Times from an overtly political publication to a highly respected daily newspaper, along the lines of the New York Times and the Washington Post. Under Otis Chandler, the paper was awarded four Pulitzer Prizes in the 1960s, more than the previous nine decades combined. The Pereira-designed building was constructed during this era as a new symbol of wealth and power in the Civic Center.