Tower Theatre

Los Angeles, Calif.


Submitted By: Shawmut Design and Construction

Owner: Confidential

Executive Architect, Architect of Record: Gruen Associates

General Contractor: Shawmut Design and Construction

Consulting Engineer - Civil: KPFF Consulting Engineers

Structural Engineer: Simpson Gumpertz & Heger

Design Architect: Foster + Partners

Historic Architect: Historic Resources Group, LLC

Lead Engineer - Structural and Seismic: Simpson Gumpertz & Heger

MEP Engineer: TK1SC

Specialty Sub-Contractor, Architectural Arts: EverGreene Architectural Arts

Framing and Casework Consultant:PSI Builders

Historic Conservation Contractor: Spectra Company

Lighting Designer: Francis Krahe & Associates Inc

Historic Restoration Contractor: K.C. Restoration

Owner's Representative: Gardiner & Theobald

The first theater in Los Angeles wired for film with sound provides an appropriate setting for a leading technology retailer’s flagship location, thanks to the comprehensive renovation effort that combined seismic upgrades with preservation of distinctive 1920s-era finishes. A comprehensive rehabilitation effort was needed, as the building had been vacant for more than 30 years and still bore scars of the 1971 Sylmar earthquake.

Seismic improvements included extensive shoring and bracing to support the exterior walls and interiors, including original balcony. Glazed terra cotta finishes underwent repairs and restoration, while the original intricate plaster detailing on the walls and ceiling were carefully retained. All power and mechanical systems were updated to meet current standards for function, efficiency and safety. New lighting, rewiring and upgrades to exterior and interior fixtures were finely tuned for balance and compatibility with the historic atmosphere.

Some restoration elements proved particularly challenging. The project team worked with limited hand-sketched, archival drawings and low-resolution photographs to replicate the theater’s original marquees. With no as-builts available to help guide recreation of the earthquake-damaged cap for the theater’s signature clock tower, the team instead cross-referenced photographs to match proportions and decorative pieces.

In addition to its new life as a high-profile retail location, the restored building will also provide space to host community programs and creative technology classes. Along with providing a long-term economic future for the landmark property, the project creates an anchor for additional retail and residential in the city’s historic Broadway corridor.