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The Bonaventure: Moving View from Above
Abandon hope of understanding space and time, all ye who enter the Bonaventure Hotel.
Creating a strong sense of directional orientation for the building’s users and tie to context? Who needs it! Architects of this um, distinctive structure flouted so many axioms of good design it’s just funny. Because the Bonaventure was conceived of during a time and place when superblock scale planning still reigned supreme and downtown was something to protect people from, rather than connect them to, this building is typical of the kind of property that will become a landmark simply because it would never be built today. And we love it. (But we'd advise that they stop trying to update the decor and leave well enough alone. If burnt orange carpet ever had its place, it's in the hallowed halls of this establishment.)
Fenestration-free street level concrete façades surrounded by L.A.-as-Corbusian-City traffic ramps, atriums galore, indoor water features, glass elevators, interior shopping amenities, no idea where the streets are or what direction you're facing -- this is quite a place for the senses to behold and lose their bearings. And the literally dizzying fun really gets going at the top two levels. We're not sure if the BonaVista Lounge was grandfathered in, or if the City Departments of City Planning and Building & Safety still gladly issue permits for slowly revolving eateries that afford 360-degree views of the city.
It's hard to not look upon a place that melds the best and worst of 70s, 80s and 90s trends with a special admixture of pity and awe. Especially when the soundtrack is a static-laden PA system blaring a motley assortment of tunes with broadcast quality that’s not appreciably better than a transistor radio playing an AM station. The Bonaventure, however, has no trouble keeping cocktails commensurate with the rate of today's inflated hotel bar rates: $12 for mixed drinks, $16.50 with the souvenir light up glass, $36 for a filet with a side of anemic frozen fries. (And do not forget to validate your parking to pay $4.50, otherwise it'll cost you $30.) For only a few bucks more than dinner and drinks for two at L.A. Prime or the BonaVista you can actually stay in one of the hotel's $129 per night rooms that also offer a commanding perspective over our city. (Although the fate of some rooms is up in the air, too.)
We're proud Los Angeles maintains its contribution to the 1970s revolving bar craze. It would be a shame if we didn't have one to claim our own since New York, Atlanta, and Dallas (where the revo-restaurant is an actual freestanding structure) do. And someone needs to be able look down on the Standard rooftop bar scene, for chrissake. Might as well be from the BonaVista Lounge.