The first new skyscraper in Los Angeles’ historic Broadway Theater District in a century debuts


A new addition to the Broadway Theater District in downtown Los Angeles in the form of a 35-story condo tower was created this spring in the former entertainment wonderland of the early 20th century. Perla on Broadway now rises where the adorned capitals of no less than a dozen surviving grand cinema palaces, all built between 1910 and 1931 in an array of architectural styles ranging from Fine Arts to Modern Zigzag, still loom on a six-block stretch.

With 450 residences (starting at $ 449,000 for a studio of just under 500 square feet) and 7,000 square feet of retail and commercial space on the ground floor, the complex is the first new skyscraper to be built in the district, the first and largest Historic Theater District listed on the National Register of Historic Places for over a century. Designed by CallisonRTKL for SCG America in the developer’s first Californian project, the building, which innovated in September 2017, is also likely the last of comparable height and size to be built in the historic heart of downtown LA .. for the foreseeable future due to strict restrictions on new development.

Perla on Broadway is made up of a slender tower perched atop a gangly podium about the same height as neighboring buildings. In accordance with city design guidelines in the Historic District, the tower portion is set back 30 feet from the edge of the podium so that it is out of sight at street level.

Perla on Broadway is perched at the north end of the historic theater and shopping district of downtown LA. (© Hunter Kerhart)

Perla’s nearest neighbors at the corner of S. Broadway at the corner of West 4th Street include the Million dollar theater (1918) and the Roxie Theater (1931). Nearby monuments that are not old movie palaces (or vaudeville houses and nickelodeons converted to movie palaces and decades later converted to Apple Store) include Grand Central Market, Flight of angels, and the iconic 1893 Bradbury Building, to which Perla pays homage in its central four-storey atrium topped with large skylights. Just as the influence of the Bradbury Building here is palpable, so too is that of the majestic movie palaces of Broadway: floating balconies, a trio of shimmering decorative metal screens, and courtesy Art Deco touches. Hirsch Bedner Partners give the social space a retro style. Eugene Park, associate director of CallisonRTKL, described the inner courtyard of the condo tower as “like a theater of life.”

As Park explained to A, the open central courtyard was created largely out of necessity due to the building’s significant setback. “The interior atrium is sort of part of the code requirement that you have to move the very tall podium tower back a lot,” he said, noting the large amount of dark interior space created by the setback. .

On the outside, the building takes its proverbial hat to its neighbors with an exterior wrapped in a layered ‘tapestry’ of glass, metal, and fiberglass reinforced concrete panels that ‘recreate the depths and rhythms of the neighboring historic facades ”, according to the design team.

interior of a residential building, the Perla on Broadway, with a faceted metal screen
Perla on Broadway’s four-story atrium is reminiscent of a very famous DTLA neighbor, the Bradbury Building. (© Hunter Kerhart)

“Broadly speaking, the vocabulary on the facades is reminiscent of the architectural details, textures and proportions found in the historic district, executed in a contemporary manner using contemporary materials and technology,” Park said in a statement. “From the cornice lines, to the vertical rhythms of the colonnades, to the proportions of the windows and the color of the mullions, there are different facets of the design that refer to its place, from large-scale elements to the smallest details. “

Above the street, amenities include 49,000 square feet of open outdoor space, the MLA Studio, on three levels: a garden terrace on the seventh floor, a large main terrace on the 11th floor with swimming pool and open lawn, and a roof terrace on the 36th floor with cabanas, fireside lounges and other places to enjoy the view from at the top of the big tower (for the immediate area).

“It’s a wonderful space,” said Daun St. Amand, senior vice president of the CallisonRTKL Los Angeles office and head of the company’s residential business, from the Podium Terrace. “It gives an impression of enclosure and frames the historical context of the adjacent buildings. “

Perla also enjoys a strong art program led by Annie Wharton Artistic advisor: 33 new commissioned works, including paintings, photographs, sculptures, etc., are distributed in the public spaces of the building, 90% of which are creations by women and artists of BIPOC, of ​​which the 22 are based in Los Angeles.

historic photo of a premiere in a cinema palace
Historic photo of the Million Dollar Theater, Sid Grauman’s huge movie palace with an ornate churrigueresque facade, at 307 S. Broadway. (Photographer unknown /Wikimedia Commons/Public domain)

SCG America has contributed over $ 2 million towards improving streets along Broadway and 4th Street under the City of Los Angeles Broadway Theater and Entertainment District Guidelines as well as a $ 4 million community benefit package for Bring back Broadway, a city-led revitalization initiative launched in 2008. Save for a modest handful of notable exceptions made possible by major restoration efforts, the cinema palaces and neighborhood entertainment venues that have survived demolition over the decades have long since closed. While some remain vacant, most have been converted for other uses, including indoor exchange meetings, discount clothing stores, and churches, all of which include a bustling latino shopping area that some worries will fade as the luxury residential makeover of downtown LA continues at a steady pace. Perla, a rare exception to the myriad of commercial and residential adaptive reuse projects that have reinvigorated the historic heart of the neighborhood, replaces what St. Amand has described as a “one-story commercial building with rooftop parking.”

As for any iconic signage that will give La Perla a touch of visual oomph alongside Broadway’s blazing theater marquees, it’s still in the works. “It wasn’t part of the design from the start, but the client requested that we look at the possibility of signage – many historic buildings in downtown LA have large pieces of signage,” Park said. ” From now on, [the top of] the building is sort of half finished with no sign.


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