The Chase bank building located on California’s Sunset Strip has recently been nominated for landmark status. The said nomination has been filed by Steve Luftman, a man from Los Angeles. No stranger to the process, Luftman tasted some success when he nominated a Beverly Grove building as a landmark last November.
If the building gets designated as a historic landmark, it would become difficult to continue with the plan of demolishing the building to erect the proposed residential and retail complex. The said complex has been planned and designed by famous architect Frank Gehry and would be developed by Townscape Partners.
When asked about the reason behind his decision Luftman said he believes that the Chase bank building deserves to be conserved. He added that he started loving and appreciating architecture primarily because of this building. This is the bank where Luftman opened his very first savings account as a 5-year-old.
When Luftman visited 8150 Sunset Blvd. as a 5 year old kid, the building didn’t house any Chase bank branch. During those days, it used to be the home of Lytton Savings & Loan. Although today the building’s architecture might appear insignificant to many, the story was much different in 1960, according to the Los Angeles Conservancy. Their website states that people were taken aback by the building’s design due to its striking dissimilarity with the conventional bank design of the time.
The conservancy describes Lytton Savings & Loan as one of the few remaining examples of the transformative modification that bank designs underwent during the postwar era.
Adrian Scott Fine, who currently serves as the director of advocacy at the conservancy, said that it would be wrong to assume that every single bank architecture belonging to that era is special or worthy of being conserved. He added that the Chase bank building is unique due to its exceptional architecture and the association it shares with Lytton. According to him, one of the most special architectural features of the building is its vibrant plate roof boasting zigzag folds.
Both Luftman and Scott Fine want the building to be incorporated into Gehry’s design. “It’s not good planning to constantly be throwing away good architecture for what could be perceived at the time as better,” said Scott Fine. However, to some, this thought might appear ironic. Lytton, himself, constructed his bank after razing the famous Garden of Allah, a building complex consisted of bungalows and villas with eminent residents like Ernest Hemingway, Orson Welles, and Francis Scott Fitzgerald.
Other than being home to this amazing bank building, this 2.5 acre area between Crescent Heights and Havenhurst Drive also houses a parking lot and strip mall. Townscape is looking to demolish all of those to construct five complementary and interrelated structures. The buildings in the new setup would be three to 15 storied units; there will be a total of 249 residential structures, a restaurant, retail outlet, grocery store, and last, but not least, a new bank. In addition, the space will be home to as many as 849 parking slots, a public space, and public plaza.
Gehry submitted his plans to the LA Planning Commission on July 28, 2016.
However, a recently released Environmental Impact Report has presented an alternative plan, which would allow the bank building to be restored and incorporated into the new structure.
Sascha Freudenheim, a spokesperson representing Townscape Partners, when asked about this controversial project taken on by the company, said that if the building is not razed, it would be imposing certain limitations on Gehry’s design with zero architectural or public benefit.