One myth about the Capitol Records building that refuses to go away

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The Capitol Records building in Hollywood, designed by Welton Becket and Louis Naidorf, ranks among the dozen or so best-known landmarks in all of Southern California. As I write in this Sunday Arts & Books essay, a team of developers and architects has revived plans to surround the tower, which was completed in 1956, with a massive mixed-use development measuring roughly 1 million square feet. The project anticipates adding a boutique hotel, apartments, condos, office space and retail and calls for a pair of new towers flanking Capitol Records, one of which could rise as high as 48 stories.

But even as the future of the building and the area around it remains in flux, a common myth about its history persists: That it was designed to resemble a stack of records, to suggest the work going on inside. Though that idea remains conventional wisdom in Los Angeles, even among many architects, it actually has no basis in fact.


At least according to Naidorf.

‘I had been in the firm for three years when I was given the assignment,’ he told the Los Angeles Times in 2000, on the occasion of his retirement. ‘It was a secret project in the office. I didn’t know who the client was. All I was told was that they wanted an office building filled with lots of individual offices.’

So much for symbolism.

--Christopher Hawthorne

Caption: The Capitol Records building, completed in 1956. Credit: by Flickr user Derek Purdy.