Clair L. Peck Jr.; Contractor Built Southland Landmarks


Clair Leverett Peck Jr., the contractor who literally built much of Southern California, from the Capitol Records Building to the Bonaventure Hotel and Library Tower to the Crystal Cathedral and the Orange County Performing Arts Center, has died. He was 78.

Peck died Monday at UCLA Medical Center after suffering a massive stroke, his wife, Margo Ryan Peck, said Tuesday.

For the record:

12:00 a.m. Dec. 17, 1998 For the Record
Los Angeles Times Thursday December 17, 1998 Home Edition Metro Part B Page 6 Metro Desk 3 inches; 85 words Type of Material: Correction
Peck obituary--An obituary for builder Clair L. Peck Jr. in Wednesday’s Times incorrectly stated that his company, C.L. Peck Contractor, constructed Library Tower. The 73-story structure, on 5th Street in downtown Los Angeles and formerly known as First Interstate World Center, was built by Turner Construction Co. Peck built the 62-story office tower on 6th Street originally known as the United California Bank building and later as the First Interstate Bank building. At the time the 6th Street structure was built, it was the tallest building in Los Angeles, a record supplanted by Library Tower.

C.L. Peck Contractor, founded by Peck’s father in 1918, constructed more than 1,200 buildings in Los Angeles, including other storied landmarks such as the Forum in Inglewood, the Los Angeles World Trade Center, high-rises in Century City and most of the chapels and other buildings at theForest Lawn parks. As chief executive and chairman of the board, Peck Jr. ran the company during Southern California’s stellar building spree over the last half-century.


Peck raised Los Angeles to a new level when he built First Interstate Bank World Center across 5th Street from the Los Angeles Central Public Library. Renamed Library Tower after the bank was merged, the 73-story structure is the tallest building west of the Mississippi River.

The contracting firm developed its reputation creating office buildings, classical church structures, warehouses and corporate headquarters. The younger Peck expanded that start as shopping centers evolved, erecting major department stores for Nieman Marcus, Robinsons-May, Broadway and Bullock’s, the Sherman Oaks Galleria, Fashion Island in Newport Beach and much of the original South Coast Plaza in Costa Mesa.

Clair Peck Jr. earned an engineering degree from Stanford, served in the Navy during World War II and joined C.L. Peck Contractor in 1945.

He officially retired in 1987, shortly after merging his company with Jones Bros. Construction Corp. But Peck remained active in development until his death. When Peck/Jones rebuilt the Beverly Wilshire Hotel in 1987, an interior designer praised Peck for keeping the construction site spick-and-span.

Peck worked closely with such architects as John Portman on the Bonaventure Hotel, Philip Johnson on the Crystal Cathedral, Charles Luckman on the Forum, I.M. Pei on the Creative Artists Agency in Beverly Hills, and Bill Pereira on the Pacific Mutual Life Insurance Building in Newport Beach.

Peck was elected to the board of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco in 1976, and, as chairman of its building committee, oversaw construction of the bank’s new building at 101 Market St.


In addition to his wife, Peck is survived by three children from his first marriage, to Emily Lutz Peck of Brentwood: Clair L. “Peter” Peck III of Balboa, and Nancy Peck Birdwell and Suzanne Peck of Brentwood; one sister, Sally Peck Carson of Los Angeles; and seven grandchildren.

Services are scheduled for 11:30 a.m. Saturday at Forest Lawn Glendale’s Church of the Recessional, which Peck built.

The family has asked that any memorial donations be made to the Downtown YMCA Summer Camp Program or to the C.L. Peck Scholarship in Engineering at Stanford University.