Capitol Records can stand on its own


I had this assignment to do a small building in Hollywood. It was my first job to start from scratch, totally mine. I was 24.

You may have heard of the building. It’s the Capitol Records building, and no, it does not intentionally look like a stack of records.

A lot of forces led to that design. Other ideas had cropped up, but a circular building made a lot of functional sense. I figured that the building would have neighboring structures developed over time on each side, so I thought that if it were a circular building, it would preserve views for everyone inside it.


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I’ve been stunned over the years that there is still a vacant parking lot next to Capitol Records. It would seem to me that somebody in 60 years might have gotten off the mark and done something with it.

Now there is a proposal to build next door, and people have objected to the height of the buildings, and to building anything next door to Capitol Records at all.

I’m not concerned about putting buildings of any scale next to Capitol Records. I don’t think people walking along a street pay a lot of attention to anything above the third floor. It’s insignificant from a pedestrian’s point of view whether a building is 20 or 30 or 40 stories high. I think this building can nicely hold its own.

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I am married to a petite woman; she’s 5 feet tall. She very nicely holds her own because the quality and the integrity are there. And as the parking lot goes away, I think Capitol Records will take on a more three-dimensional quality.


The tallest building in Los Angeles is 73 stories high. Across the street from it is the Los Angeles Central Library. I think it’s irrelevant whether the tower is 40, 50, 60 or 77 stories high. We would not have the Central Library as it is now if the developer across the street hadn’t built that building, invested back in the library and created the gardens as a setting for the library. Who can say that those great gardens, that great public space, aren’t a tremendous asset?

What Hollywood needs more than anything else is people — people coming there, people living there, people being there, people working there. Now there’s an opportunity for Hollywood to finally take a step forward, to burst out and do something.

If you only had a community of architects, you would have a desert. There is a community there, but you need to understand the economic drivers of the project. There are a developer’s needs and wishes, the residents’ needs and wishes, the community’s needs and wishes. I think we have to have faith that there is an overlap, a richer solution that responds fully to all people’s needs.

Louis Naidorf was a design architect for Welton Becket Associates and served as dean of the Woodbury University School of Architecture and Design from 1990 to 2000. This piece is based on an interview that appears on the website of Millennium Hollywood, developer of the proposed buildings next to Capitol Records.