Office tower to rise next to historic Hollywood studio
Los Angeles Times real estate reporter Roger Vincent chats with video journalist Ann Simmons about the Icon at Sunset Bronson Studios, a 14-story office building slated for the historic heart of the Hollywood film and broadcasting district.
One of Hollywood’s biggest landlords is setting the stage for another expansion as the historic heart of the film and broadcast business rises again.
Hudson Pacific Properties, the owner of two neighboring Sunset Boulevard studio lots with golden-era pedigrees, plans to build a 14-story office tower next door to the majestic 1920s landmark building that was once executive headquarters of Warner Bros.
The new office building is to be called the Icon at Sunset Bronson Studios. It will stand at Sunset and Van Ness Avenue, where it will replace an imposing radio antenna touting studio tenant KTLA-TV Channel 5 that stands west of the 101 Freeway. The 150-foot antenna, visible for miles, will be returned to its original location down the block on Sunset.
Unlike most office buildings, the Icon will have a non-uniform exterior — with four textures. The tiered, stacked design by architectural firm Gensler will make way for landscaped outdoor terraces on several levels of the building. Floor-to-ceiling glass will alternate with articulated window walls to enhance views and natural light inside the building.
Work on the building is expected to start by the end of the year, even though Hudson Pacific does not have tenants lined up to occupy it.
“We think there is pent-up demand,” said Alex Vouvalides, chief investment officer of Hudson Pacific.
The Icon takes on the challenge of making an office high-rise that still appeals to tenants in creative businesses such as entertainment and technology. In recent years, most such tenants have shown a preference for low-slung buildings, often converted from previous industrial uses, surrounded by gardens or courtyards.
“Icon evokes the spirit of the new Hollywood, an innovative environment that functions as a vertical campus,” said Victor Coleman, chief executive of Hudson Pacific.
The 315,000-square-foot building is the centerpiece of a $150-million expansion of Sunset Bronson Studios that also includes a 1,600-space parking structure and a five-story, 90,000-square-foot production building.
The production building is to provide ancillary space for people renting soundstages. They may use the space for postproduction work or to house writers, administrators and other people not working on the soundstages.
Improvements to its Sunset Bronson and Sunset Gower studios are part of Hudson Pacific’s strategy to help lead the reinvigoration of Hollywood as a destination of choice for people who are making movies, television shows, commercials and other video recordings.
The studios are about 700 feet apart along Sunset. One prominent new neighbor between them is Emerson College, which recently built a striking teaching and residential facility at 5960 Sunset Blvd. on land it bought from Hudson Pacific.
Hudson built a six-story office building on the edge of Sunset Gower Studios that was leased to Technicolor Inc. in 2008. It was the first new office building on a Hollywood lot since the 1970s, Coleman said.
The Technicolor building houses executives, digital production facilities and screening rooms. It has become a hub of the industry as entertainment content travels around Hollywood electronically while it is being produced and processed.
As independent studios, Sunset Bronson and Sunset Gower do not make their own movies and television shows the way Disney, Paramount and other big studios do. Instead, they rent out soundstages and provide support services such as catering and security for fees.
Sunset Gower studios was once the Columbia Pictures lot. The wood-paneled office where Harry Cohn reigned as a tyrant for decades is now a spacious conference room. The courtyard and offices where his writers pecked out scripts on typewriters have been restored.
Tenants working on the lot include actor Warren Beatty, who is making a biopic about Howard Hughes in which he stars. Television shows “Scandal” on ABC and HBO’s “The Newsroom” are shot there.
And to the east, nearby Sunset Bronson, the former Warner Bros. studio, is where talkies were born in 1927 with “The Jazz Singer.” It is now primarily a television facility and includes shows with live audiences such as “Let’s Make a Deal,” “Judge Judy” and “The Arsenio Hall Show.”
The landmark radio tower, now defunct, was erected around 1924 and was briefly used to broadcast KFWB (the WB stands for Warner Bros.) But the signal interfered with the sound equipment the studio installed to make talking pictures, so radio operations were moved to the Warner Theater on Hollywood Boulevard and later to Burbank.
Sunset Bronson will house more than 700,000 square feet of offices, soundstages and production-related facilities when the Icon expansion is completed in late 2016.
Office space on Los Angeles-area movie lots has proved attractive in recent years. Last month, the Oprah Winfrey Network announced that it would move to a new office building called Formosa South at the Lot, a studio in West Hollywood.
“There is an inherent creative energy on a studio lot,” Coleman said, “that cannot be replicated.”