Score One for Mid-Century Los Angeles

Hyatt Century Plaza Hotel in L.A.Thanks to L.A. mid-century preservationists like Diane Keaton, a deal was announced Feb. 11 to save the Hyatt Century Plaza Hotel, turning it into a mixed-use condo development. The mid-century gem had been slated for the wrecking ball, but now its notable curving glass-and-aluminum facade will remain, and so will its role in hosting Los Angeles' elite since opening in 1966.

Current owner, developer Next Century Associates, worked with the Los Angeles Conservancy and the National Trust for Historic Preservation to preserve the structure, which will now become the centerpiece of a mixed-use development that will reduce its number of hotel rooms and turn some floors into condominiums, plus add office towers and retail space.
Adding in the preservation efforts were the current glut of commercial office space, as well as Los Angeles' increasing appreciation for mid-century design. (The Conservancy's members, including trustee Diane Keaton, actively campaigned for Century Plaza's preservation.) The hotel's exterior is the most original design element that remains from original architect Minoru Yamasaki, who also designed the World Trade Center Towers. Preliminary plans indicate that it will be restored to its earlier, golden luster by architects Marmol + Radziner known for their thoughtful and detailed restoration work on several mid-century Richard Neutra homes, among other projects.

Interior design plans have not been finalized but don't expect a strict adherence to a mid-century-only cannon. Once a white-hot trend, the rage for mid-century-only has cooled off a bit and interior designers have evolved their utilization of the signature furnishings and fixtures.

"Interior designers are now going for a more relaxed, eclectic style, with a mix of traditional and ethnic pieces," says Sam Kaufman, owner of a Beverly Boulevard boutique that sells architect-designed, mid-century furnishing and ceramics. "[Before], people would do houses strictly in mid-century modern. They had to have their Knoll sofa and their Eames chairs -- all the iconic pieces -- and enough people followed the trend that now it's a big no-no."

Kaufman's Beverly Boulevard boutique's silver-painted storefront is currently featuring Frank Gehry-designed cardboard chairs and a 10-panel Eames folding screen. Although demand may be waning, that block of Los Angeles is still the go-to spot for designers and homeowners seeking the perfect mid-century piece, whether its an artist-made work at Modern 1 or furniture and decorative arts at Twentieth and Orange next door.
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