For the past several years, Los Angeles has been embroiled in controversy over a plan to build a couple of office towers next door to the iconic Capitol Records building. Today in the LA Times, the guy who actually designed the Capitol Records building weighs in with a refreshingly reasonable take:
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.
….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.
Great cities should always retain an awareness and appreciation of their history. But that doesn’t mean preserving their landscapes in amber, as so often seems to be the goal of preservationists these days. LA is a city, not a national park, and Hollywood needs more density. Both the Capitol Records building and its famous underground recording chambers will be fine with some new neighbors.