In the first decades of the 20th century, Los Angeles’ central Figueroa Street vicinity quickly shed its residential character as it grew into a mixed-use office and light industrial district. In 1920, the Brownstein-Louis Company started work on a five-story menswear factory at the northwest corner of Figueroa and Eighth Streets. Although original plans for the site were drawn up by Meyer and Holler, design work was ultimately completed by the office of John Parkinson.
In addition to its relative proximity to downtown’s center and the quality of its construction, the Brownstein-Louis Building was noted for the synergy of its Neoclassical design with the factory’s functional needs. In order to maximize natural light, the upper three stories were built in an H-shaped volume featuring expansive windows. In anticipation of the area’s future growth, ground-floor shops lined its Figueroa Street side, set back from the roadway by a generously wide sidewalk. Despite its hefty initial investment, the Brownstein-Louis Company vacated its namesake building in 1929. Its upper-story factory spaces were subsequently renovated into offices, designed once again by Parkinson’s firm.
The top photograph appears to show the building immediately before its renovation. Visible at the right is Potter Park Avenue, a one-block roadway which formerly ran between Figueroa and Franscisco Streets (renamed 7th Place in the early 1930s). After a brief stint as a federal office building during the Depression years, the Brownstein-Louis Building dwindled for five decades under various warehouse uses. In 1980, both the Brownstein-Louis Building and 7th Place were razed during the construction of the Seventh Marketplace shopping center, now known as 7+Fig. Since 1990, the remainder of its original footprint has been taken up by the 777 Tower, a 53-story office skyscraper designed by Cesar Pelli.
1. “Big cash deal for property.” Los Angeles Times. 21 Aug. 1919. II3.
2. Dirlam, Sharon. “Downtown retail mall, offices planned.” Los Angeles Times. 23 Mar. 1980. J2.
3. “Federal office building picked.” Los Angeles Times. 19 Oct. 1929. A6.
4. “Ideal behind factory plan.” Los Angeles Times. 24 Aug. 1919. V1.
5. “New building need indicated.” Los Angeles Times. 26 Apr. 1930. A1.
6. “Remodeling of building scheduled.” Los Angeles Times. 19 May 1929. E9.
7. “Start work on fine building.” Los Angeles Times. 12 Sep. 1920. V!.
8. Whiteson, Leon. “Pelli stretches his skin to new heights.” Los Angeles Times. 8 Apr. 1990. 1.
Original photo: “examiner-m2633 – Brownstein-Louis building, downtown Los Angeles, 1929.” 1929. Los Angeles Examiner Prints Collection. USC Digital Library. USC Libraries Special Collections. http://digitallibrary.usc.edu/assetserver/controller/view/EXM-P-S-LOS-ANG-CIT-BUI-021.
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