Looking east on Wilshire Boulevard from McCarty Drive, c.1955-2011

c. 1955-2011

Several months after its incorporation in 1953, the City National Bank of Beverly Hills began construction of its first dedicated office building, located at the intersection of Roxbury Drive, Brighton Way, and Wilshire Boulevard. For its design, the bank enlisted Welton Becket & Associates, still high on the heels of the groundbreaking for the nearby Beverly Hilton. Completed in 1955, the City National Bank headquarters was a true showpiece for the firm’s charismatic brand of modernism, with its effervescent embrace of corporate wealth and Southern California’s sunny climate. Each of the building’s tall spandrels was covered with aqua-tinted Italian glass tile, while each window band was shielded by a protruding sunshade. As shown in the top photograph, the six-story office block was a striking addition to a very lightly developed segment of Wilshire Boulevard.

Three years later, Becket oversaw a two-story addition which replicated the existing structure below, bringing the building to its present eight stories. Much of that design was unfortunately lost during the mid-1970s when the exterior was fully rebuilt by Maxwell Starkman & Associates, which resulted in its much more bland present appearance. By then, Beverly Hills had also amassed a sizeable collection of larger mid-rise banking offices, largely concentrated along Wilshire Boulevard. In today’s view, the City National Bank building is mostly blocked by the Pacific Wilshire Plaza tower (1973), still one of the tallest structures in the city.

1. “Bank to display valuable coins.” Los Angeles Times. 18 May 1975. G16.
2. “Big $3,000,000 building open in Beverly Hills.” Los Angeles Times. 7 Aug. 1955. F1.
3. “Ground broken for new bank in Beverly Hills.” Los Angeles Times. 21 Apr. 1954. 25.
4. “Two-story addition on building started.” Los Angeles Times. 10 Aug. 1958. F14.
Original photo: Dick Whittington Studio. “Looking east along Wilshire Boulevard from the intersection of McCarty Drive at the City National Bank and Biff’s – whit-m2381.” “Dick” Whittington Photography Collection. USC Digital Library. USC Libraries Special Collections. http://digitallibrary.usc.edu/assetserver/controller/view/whit-m2381/DW-W8-11-9-ISLA.

This entry was posted in Beverly Hills, Then and now, Wilshire Boulevard and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Looking east on Wilshire Boulevard from McCarty Drive, c.1955-2011

  1. Mark Elliot says:

    Love that you dropped into my town for this little bit of diachrony. Many days I bike this stretch going eastbound, which gives me ample opportunity to rue the many poor planning decisions that saddle Beverly Hills with a particularly undistinguished mid-century and later architectural history. As if we skimmed off the most mediocre International Style motifs and left the good stuff for elsewhere. And that news got even worse in the 80s & 90s when we created a skyline to rival the best of Roanoka, VA, or Charlottesville. Love the blog! More streetcars!

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