Historic Newspaper Building and Two New
Condo Towers by Thom Mayne to Include Nearly 600 Units
by Kathryn Maese
The storied Herald Examiner Building, shuttered
since the Hearst-owned newspaper folded in 1989, is being turned
into a residential and retail complex with two towers designed by
award-winning architect Thom Mayne.
Devin Pailet, a project manager with Urban
Partners, is part of the team that is working with the Hearst
Corporation to revamp the 1914 Herald Examiner Building. Photo
by Gary Leonard.
Developer Urban Partners, which is working in
tandem with property owner the Hearst Corporation, said plans are
underway to restore and convert the 1914 landmark on the southwest
corner of 11th and Broadway into offices and condominiums. As part
of the mixed-use development, two new towers would rise on adjacent
land owned by Hearst. A 37-story structure will likely feature 330
for-sale units at 120 W. 12th St., while a 23-story building at 1108
S. Hill St. will include 235 condos.
"Almost every block on
11th Street is in some state of adaptive reuse or new construction,"
said Dan Rosenfeld, an Urban Partners principal. "Clearly the market
is moving in product absorption and location in favor of taking the
The striking Mission-Revival structure with its
yellow and blue tiled domes, imposing tower and dramatic arches has
been used almost exclusively for filming in recent years. The
Examiner was built by the state's first licensed female architect,
Julia Morgan, whose work on the project convinced media baron
William Randolph Hearst to commission her to design his San Simeon
Noted preservation architect Brenda Levin, who helped
refurbish City Hall, the Wiltern Theater and Grand Central Market,
will oversee a painstaking rehab of the building. Rosenfeld said the
property has been well kept by the Hearst group, who retained the
original maintenance crew following the newspaper's
Ken Bernstein, director of preservation issues at
the Los Angeles Conservancy, said Levin's presence bodes well for
the project, and also makes for an interesting parallel with
"[Levin's] an outstanding choice to bring new
life to the Herald Examiner," he said. "There's also the symbolism
of having one of the premier women in architecture today giving new
life to Julia Morgan's creation."
Though Rosenfeld would not
detail specifics on the development, city documents reveal that
early plans for the historic building itself include 24 residential
units, 23,650 square feet of retail space, and 32,670 square feet of
offices. Original features such as the ornate street front windows,
covered in the 1950s, will be brought back.
Making a Statement
The primary structure
spans 100,000 square feet and housed the paper's entire operations,
including the printing presses, and two 36,000-square-foot floors,
each with 20-foot high ceilings. The second story is covered by a
skylight, while the first level contains a large, ornate lobby.
West of the Herald Examiner on the same block,
Urban Partners is building a 23-story tower that will include 5,900
square feet of retail and 422 parking spaces. The two buildings
would be linked via a 13,500-square-foot courtyard or plaza
landscaped with trees. An alley on the south separates the project
from the SBC Tower, long known as the Transamerica Tower.
block to the southeast, the second high-rise will include more than
8,000 square feet of retail and 550 parking slots.
will design the two towers, is head of the Santa Monica firm
Morphosis and won the prestigious Pritzker Architecture Prize this
year, following the opening of his California Department of
Transportation's (Caltrans) District 7 headquarters at First and
Main streets. Rosenfeld, whose firm developed Caltrans, said the new
project will also make a statement.
"The design will be
thought provoking, challenging and confident," he said. "It will be
something that plays or appeals to a very discriminating niche in a
Bernstein, who has seen the
renderings and a scale model of the Herald Examiner project and the
two new buildings, said Mayne's vision makes a "very strong, bold,
new architectural statement."
"The Conservancy, as a historic
preservation organization, does not typically engage in new
architectural design review," he said. "While we're very supportive
of the rehab, we have conveyed back to the project team that we want
to reserve the right to comment further on the new
Hollywood-based Historic Resources Group has been
hired to ensure the new design will not have a negative visual
impact on the structure.
Rosenfeld said while the project
will have a "21st century quality," it will still fit with Morgan's
vision. He noted that the block, along with the SBC building, will
showcase decades of design - Morgan's early 20th century vision,
William Pereira's mid-century modern edifice for Transamerica, and
now Mayne's early 21st century imprint.
Close to Demolition
As the reuse of old
offices, hotels and banks into housing has swept up Downtown Los
Angeles in recent years, speculation began to swirl around the empty
Herald Examiner building. Hearst Corporation received numerous calls
from investors interested in buying the property; it selected Urban
Partners a few years ago to help develop a plan for the
But the building's path wasn't always so clear.
Bernstein said there was an effort in the early 1990s to demolish
the building. At the time, Downtown and the rest of the country were
in the grip of economic recession and the adaptive reuse trend was
still years away.
"Hearst Corporation had considered all
kinds of options, and one was demolition," he said. "The Conservancy
pursued a National Register of Historic Places nomination and it was
formally determined eligible. Hearst opposed its listing. The
Conservancy is very heartened that they have joined forces with
Urban Partners to give it a second chance."
Angeles Examiner, which opened in 1914 and later merged with the
Los Angeles Herald, for a time claimed the largest afternoon
newspaper circulation in the country. The paper was a dominant news
source in Los Angeles for decades, and engaged in a fierce rivalry
with the Los Angeles Times. Eventually a number of issues,
among them labor strife and competition from evening television
news, forced the paper to shut down.
A public meeting and
unveiling of the conceptual rendering and model is set for Sept. 8
at the Central Library. An environmental impact report will be
completed Sept. 16.