Saving the Century

Wednesday, August 5, 2009
Minoru Yamasakis Century Plaza hotel and the towers that threaten it. (Courtesy Curbed LA)

Minoru Yamasaki's Century Plaza hotel and the towers that threaten it. (Courtesy Curbed LA)

Our friends over at Curbed report today that the LA City Council’s PLUM committee (gotta love the name–Planning and Land Use Management) voted in favor of “initiat[ing] a nomination to include the Century Plaza hotel on the city’s list of historical-cultural monuments,” which, in non-planner speak, means the Minoru Yamasaki-designed hotel will soon be on the cusp of garnering support for its historical bona fides. This would make it harder but not impossible for a developer to tear the building down and replace it with the towers you see above.

Its a welcome move, given last time we visited the building in May, it seemed doomed. The project does have an unexpected ally, though: Diane Keaton. Fred Bernstein dropped by the building late last month to report for the (New York) Times on the involvement of the actress, who happens to be a board member of the National Trust for Historic Places. Among other things, she told Bernstein the building was “a sexy woman surrounded by ogling men–Sophia Loren in the 1960s.” How anyone could deign to demolish such a thing is beyond us.

Still, Curbed‘s Dakota Smith got in touch with the developer, Michael Rosenfeld, about the vote, and he sounds pretty determined to go ahead with his plan, Italian–or Japanese–bombshell be damned.

“We’re proceeding with the original plan. We think it has numerous planning, economic, environmental, and community benefits,” said Rosenfeld. “But we’re willing to work with the community and the Conservancy on exploring project enhancements.”

And as if that weren’t enough, the council vote only kicks off the process of landmarking the building, at which point it will have to go back through the public review process once again. By then, the building could be demolished and gone.

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