fot. Eric Richardson, wikimedia, CC 2.0

A turquoise pearl of art deco style in LA. Eastern Columbia Building

The turquoise Eastern Columbia Lofts building is an outstanding example of the art deco style in Los Angeles. The building’s design was so unique that the city authorities allowed the developer to exceed the permitted height. The distinctive clock tower has been watching traffic on Broadway since 1930.

The Eastern Columbia Building was designed by Claude Beelman. The architect designed as many as fifteen buildings that were listed on the US National Register of Historic Places in later decades. The building is named after its investors, the Eastern Outfitting Company and the Columbia Outfitting Company. The combined companies were owned by a Polish Jew – Adolph Sieroty. After just nine months of construction, the Eastern Columbia Building became the headquarters of two companies. Interestingly, the investment cost $1.25 million, which translates into $23 million today.

Turquoise pearl

What catches the eye is the building’s unusual turquoise colour. The glazed terracotta tiles stretch across the entire height of the Eastern Columbia Building. Between the terracotta strips going upwards are walls with windows of a slightly darker colour. The windows are set back from the turquoise panels. Gold detailing has been placed above some of the windows. Interestingly, two other buildings in the city have a similar turquoise façade – The Sun Realty Building (by the same architect) and the Wiltern Theatre.

The west lobby that forms the main entrance to the building is two storeys high. The wall above the entrance is decorated with gold reliefs of the sun and floral rays. Formerly, the vestibule led to the shopping arcade on the ground floor.

The height limit for buildings on Broadway at the time was 46m. Because of the imposing clock tower, the city authorities allowed the construction of an 80 m high office building. The clock faces on the tower were placed on four sides. At night, the clock face glows white along with the inscription ‘EASTERN’. The top of the building is crowned by a decorative chimney supported by buttress arches. The walls next to the clock are decorated with chevron-shaped gold stripes.

photo by Visitor7, wikimedia, CC 3.0

Broadway fame

The merged Eastern-Columbia companies leased the building until 1957.The owners closed their shops in LA, leaving some scattered around the rest of the state. In later years, the building continued to serve as offices. By the early 21st century, however, it was outdated and non-functional. In order to save the art deco gem, a private investor bought the building and turned it into a luxury apartment building. It is worth noting that the office building was not in danger of being demolished, as it was listed as a historic building in 1985.

In 2006. Eastern Columbia Lofts opened to new residents. The building had previously been thoroughly renovated and the clock on the tower began to walk again. It was such a good enough renovation that the building was awarded a Conservancy Preservation Award in 2008. Many famous and wealthy people like Johnny Depp have their flats there.

There are certainly better examples of art deco cities within the United States. Miami, Richmond or New York even have entire districts designed in this style. However, Los Angeles has its own take on art deco. White and turquoise mid-rise buildings are scattered throughout the city. The most outstanding example of this approach is the Eastern Columbia Building. The building is sometimes referred to as ‘the jewel of downtown LA’, although the term can even be extended to ‘the jewel of the West Coast’.

Source: LA Conservancy

Also read: Architecture | History | Monument | Los Angeles | United States | Art Deco | whiteMAD on Instagram

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