Few architects have left a greater physical legacy on Los Angeles’ Financial District than the architect-developer Charles Luckman. In conjunction with his development firm, the Ogden Development Corporation, Charles Luckman Associates built two of the Financial District’s largest structures, Broadway Plaza and the United California Bank Building. The top photograph shows the projects in the midst of their construction in 1972; both were completed in 1974.
Built at a cost of $85 million by Ogden Development and Broadway-Hale Stores, Broadway Plaza rose on the 4.5 acre block bounded by Seventh, Eighth, Hope, and Flower Streets. The mixed-use complex included a 32-story office building, 23-story hotel, and small shopping center, anchored by a 250,000 square-foot Broadway department store. Much like Luckman’s most notorious work, Madison Square Garden, Broadway Plaza interacts poorly with its surroundings at the pedestrian level. The vast majority of its sidewalk space is fronted by blank brick walls, broken up by loading docks and driveways leading to the 1,975-car garage at the top of its bulky southern volume.
Rising in the right background is the 62-story United California Bank Building, famous for its slender yet austere rectangular volume. At the time of its completion in 1974, it was country’s tallest building west of Chicago, and would remain the city’s tallest until the completion of the Library Tower in 1989.
In 1996, following the dissolution of the Broadway department store chain, Broadway Plaza was renamed Macy’s Plaza; the United California Bank tower has been the AON Center since 2003. Nearly four decades after their completion, the buildings continue to dominate the above view of Hope Street, their imposing presence made only greater by the disappearance of the First Methodist Church.
First Methodist Church [Urban Diachrony]
1. “About the architect.” Los Angeles Times. 11 Jul. 1971. T41.
2. Hebert, Ray. “Bank will construct 62-story building.” Los Angeles Times. 19 Feb. 1970. OC5.
3. Hebert, Ray. “Downtown meets a megastructure.” Los Angeles Times. 6 Aug. 1973. 3.
4. Hebert, Ray. “Huge shopping center planned for Downtown.” Los Angeles Times. 13 Nov. 1968. SG1.
5. Muschamp, Herbert. “Charles Luckman, architect who designed Penn Station’s replacement, dies at 89.” New York Times. 28 Jan. 1999.
6. “Work to start soon on Broadway Plaza.” Los Angeles Times. 1 Feb. 1971. G10.
Original photo: “00039418 – View of Hope from 8th Street.” 1972. Los Angeles Public Library. http://photos.lapl.org/carlweb/jsp/FullRecord?databaseID=968&record=23&controlNumber=42256.