Streamline Palisades

 

Courtesy Santa Monica Public Library
Courtesy Santa Monica Public Library

The old Bay Theater in Pacific Palisades. Rumor has it that it is about to go through something of a restoration.

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The Ace in L.A.’s Art Deco Deck


The Lobby
Ace Hotel
929 S. Broadway, Los Angeles

The Renaissance that Downtown L.A. has experienced in the quarter century since I last haunted these precincts is astounding, and nowhere does it hum with such subtle joy as Ace Hotel.

The hotel was crafted from the gutted interior of the old United Artists building, and the architects only touched the grande dame’s Art Deco exterior sufficiently to restore it to its former elegance. The rooms manage to meld the period and the contemporary in a way that you almost want to give a name, like “Art Deco Revival” or “Art Deco Moderne.”

I walked into the lobby and was charmed instantly. The fidelity to the era reminded me of the corridors of the Wilshire-Ebell Theater or the Wilshire Boulevard Temple. The parquet floors, the arched doorways, the moldings, the iron trim, and the high ceilings above narrow spaces bespoke the architects’ determination to restore more than renovate.

True to its origins, the Ace is arguably less capacious in either room or public area than your average Courtyard, but the lack of opulence is more than balanced by its surfeit of character. To walk through her main doors is to take a step back in time and down in speed.

One is tempted to linger in the lobby, to dawdle over breakfast at the L.A. Chapter restaurant in the lobby, to set aside the email and to think, to breathe, to be in the moment. Sip the coffee. Read the script pages decorating the lobby wall. Watch the people walk by on the street outside. And listen to the sounds and echoes.

You may accuse me of wallowing in nostalgia, but you would miss the point. What is precious about the Ace Hotel and its anachronistic ilk is not a siren call to a supposedly better past, but their Zen-ish insistence that we eschew internet speed so that we may more fully occupy the moment.

Workplace Fail: HanaHaus

HanaHaus is not for the rest of us. It is aimed at a certain demographic, and everyone else be damned.

I had an afternoon of down time between meetings in SF and Cupertino. Needed a place to hunker down and work for 4 hours. Made a reservation at HanaHaus on recommendation of a friend on the Stanford faculty.

The WiFi was miserable, the environment was so loud I could not hear on a conference call, and I had to move my car every 90 minutes because HanaHaus is conveniently located in a district with maximum 2 hour parking.

So I guess I’m not their demographic.

California Showpalaces: Carthay Circle

Source: Cathay_Circle_Theater.jpg (648×518)

The Fox Carthay Circle Theater, one of the great movie houses in the home of the film business.  The photo shows the theater at the premiere of The Life of Emile Zola in 1937.

Architect Dwight Gibbs created the Spanish Colonial Revival building, which housed a round theater within the building’s square frame, for developer J. Harvey McCarthy. Completed in 1926, the theater became the anchor for the Carthay district, bordered by Wilshire, Fairfax, San Vicente, and Pico.

Sadly, the great lady of the Mid-Wilshire district is no more, demolished in 1969 to make way fro two low-rise office buildings and a park.

Designing California: Paul Williams

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A true California original, first African-American member of the American Institute of Architects. The number of his buildings that still stand remain the best testament to his greatness.

I grew up in one of the homes he designed, and as a result his aesthetic was a major influence on my own.

Friday at the Videos: A Ride on the Embarcadero Freeway

A Friday reminder of how things used to be: a 1984 video of a ride on the now-demolished and sometimes-missed Embarcadero Freeway, 3 minutes in each direction.

There are moments, driving up Third Street and then Kearney on my way to the Financial District, that I sorely miss the elevated, two-level concrete monstrosity. And then I have lunch outside on the Embarcadero, and I remember what an awful eyesore the thing was.

Not everything an earthquake does is a bad thing. Sometimes Nature does for us what we should have done for ourselves.