Proposed for Demolition, Century Plaza Hotel Gains Historical Significance

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Via the Herald-Examiner Collection, Los Angeles Public Library
If the new owners of the Century Plaza Hotel, currently operating as a Hyatt Regency, get their way, it will soon be razed for two 600-foot towers for commercial, hotel and residential occupation. But those dreams may have just been slashed. Today, the National Trust for Historic Preservation and Los Angeles Conservancy will name the landmark on their annual America's 11 Most Endangered Historic Places list, which highlights important examples of the nation's architectural, cultural and natural heritage that are at risk of destruction or irreparable damage.

Making it harder to ignore this recognition, later this morning, the official announcement of the list will take place at the Century Plaza itself with Diane Keaton at the helm. "All over Los Angeles, too many of our great modern buildings have already fallen to the wrecking ball," she said. "We need to lead by example and show the rest of the country that buildings are renewable, and we shouldn't be throwing them away. We should be recycling them just like we recycle newspapers."

Today's location was made with good purpose. The trust wanted to highlight the threat to modernist architecture nationally and highlight the need to recycle existing infrastructure.

"Opened in 1966 as the centerpiece of Century City, the 19-story curved hotel has been a prominent Los Angeles landmark for more than four decades," the Trust explains in background materials. "From its prime perch fronting the spectacular fountains on the Avenue of the Stars, the Century Plaza's sweeping modern design strongly evokes the exuberant optimism of the 1960s. Designed by renowned architect Minoru Yamasaki, who would later design New York's World Trade Center twin towers, the hotel incorporates Yamasaki's ornamental, textural and sculptural trademarks. Yamasaki also designed the 1975 twin Century Plaza towers, the striking triangular buildings east of the hotel."

Richard Moe, president of the National Trust for Historic Preservation scolded the ides of destroying the hotel. "How is the demolition of a 40-year-old, fully functioning building environmentally responsible? In a state known for its environmental stewardship and strong focus on sustainable development, it boggles the imagination to think a developer could propose tearing down a newly renovated, thriving hotel - a landmark of modern architecture - and replace it with new construction."