Monday, October 11, 2021

Sunset Boulevard Update

This bird’s eye from the seventh floor of the Chateau Marmont gives a wonderful panorama of Marmont Lane (on the left) where the infamous John Belushi bungalow is located; at center is the Marmont pool, where Howard Hughes “allegedly” ogled sunbathing females from his sixth floor penthouse suite; and on the right, is Sunset Boulevard, aka “The Strip.”

Zooming in you can see a construction fence surrounding the property that once housed the Garden of Allah Hotel from 1927-1959; it was replaced by the Lytton Savings bank, which has now been torn down to make way for a mixed-use development designed by Frank Gehry, who claims his renderings were inspired by the Garden of Allah.

I was in LA when the Garden of Allah existed, and with this project, I wanted to capture the feeling of the experience of that place which was vibrant and memorable. It has always been important to me to respect this history while also creating something of our time.

Based on the renderings that have been revealed so far, I do not see any correlation between the two projects.

So for now, the lot sits empty, awaiting its fate.

Will the Gehry project ever get off the ground? Or now that the Lytton Savings has been torn down, avoiding any future obstacles with the preservationists, will it appear back on the market for sale again?

Here’s what the property looked like during my last visit in April (above) and from 2017 (below).

Directly across the street from the Chateau is the former office of Jay Ward Productions, where the famous statue of Rocky and Bullwinkle once rotated for all to see along Sunset Boulevard. Hollywood Hounds and PoshPetCare have “left the building” and this place also has a construction fence around it. 

Unfortunately my camera was on the wrong setting, so I didn’t get a detailed enough shot to be able to tell if the elbow prints left by local journalists and a few Jay Ward employees in 1961-1962 are still there, but it appears that they could be.

How the property looked in 2012 when it was Hollywood Hounds and Bullwinkle was still there with his little pal, Rocky (somewhat obscured by a palm tree):

See more of my Sunset Boulevard photos at my website.


Melissa said...

I always imagined the Garden of Allah being much, much bigger!

Fifthrider said...

Agreed with Melissa. For some reason I imagined it to be more spacious. You never can tell by closeups, what the arial view would have looked like.

I'm grateful to see the landscaping of the Marmont so well cared for. Those shingles at the peaks look like they need some help. I really appreciate posts like this because as a person who's never visited, I have no feel for where everthing is if laid out on a map. Now I can see how close the Garden of Allah was to the Chateau Marmont.

It's sad and baffling to see how a place like Garden of Allah doesn't remain, is replaced by a bank which itself doesn't remain, and yet seedy strip malls like the one in the background seem to last forever. I recall in the 1980 TV series "The Martian Chronicles" the set design made it clear that Mars' first human settlement was seedy strip malls. First thing on a different planet was a strip joint, not even a Stabucks or McDonalds. Go figure. Here we are in L.A. and the seedy strip mall thrives.

That roof on the bank makes the hobbyist builder in me cringe. How did that design meeting go? "I need a roof that barely diverts water, but definitely accumulates leaves and debris. What can you do?"

Daveland said...

Bryan - You are killin' me (in a good way!). We need to find out who was at the bank design meeting to confirm your theory!

Anonymous said...

I have been in meetings like that, and nothing, not even watertightness concern is permitted to get in the way of the architect's desire to spend the client's money on whatever is trendy at the moment.

The roof on the vanished bank is called a "folded plate" roof and it was very popular in design circles for a while back i the 60's and 70's, although the method was invented in the 1920's. Van de Kamp's bakery coffee shops and the old Denny's designs were among the most egregious and complex. Styles change, design awards move on, and no one wants a folded plate roof much today.

Thanks for this post, Dave. Good perspective and catch-up on controversial projects.


Fifthrider said...

Very cool, thanks JG for the lesson. I always wondered why they went with roofs like that back in the day. This has confirmed my suspicions.

Kids today love these Halloween haunt events where actors jump out to scare them, but for those of us who are beyond that age our "Halloween horror" rooms should come in the form of more company meetings where things like that go on, or thick envelopes from the Tax and Franchise Board, etc.