The Los Angeles Cultural Heritage Commission will consider giving historic-cultural monument status to the downtown Times Mirror Square complex, after a unanimous Thursday vote.
The application includes a 1970s addition that a developer has marked for demolition to make way for a pair of residential towers, and the vote comes as the Los Angeles Times newspaper is in the final stages of vacating the complex.
Before the vote, Commission President Richard Barron stressed that the commission agrees to consider at least eight or nine out of every 10 applications it receives and that the meeting only marked the beginning of the process.
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"I think these are all iconic Los Angeles buildings and that we need to go visit the site, is the next step," Barron said. "I'm in support of this application."
The complex has housed the Los Angeles Times since 1935, although the paper is moving to a new home in El Segundo and has been renting the building since 2016 when its former owner, Tribune Media Co., sold it to Canadian developer Omni Group.
Omni's development plan would preserve the older buildings but bulldoze the 1970s addition. The developers cannot tear down any buildings while the complex's application for monument status is being considered. The application was submitted by a preservationist organization called Esotouric.
The complex consists of five buildings constructed between 1935 and 1973, according to a report by the Department of City Planning:
- The 1935 eight-story Los Angeles Times Building designed in the art deco/moderne architectural style by Los Angeles architect Gordon B. Kaufmann.
- The four-story Plant Building completed in 1935 that is an original two-story art deco/moderne-style building by Kaufmann, with two one-story additions designed by Los Angeles architect Rowland H. Crawford in 1946 and 1955.
- The 12-story Mirror Building designed in the late moderne architectural style by Crawford in 1948.
- The six-story Times-Mirror Headquarters Building and six-story parking structure designed by architect William L. Pereira in the corporate international architectural style in 1973.
With Omni already having pledged to preserve much of the complex except for the 1970s addition, many of the public speakers focused their comments on it, with fans of the addition outnumbering its critics.
Leo Wolinsky, a former managing editor for The Times, gave a detailed history of the Chandler family that owned and ran the paper for seven decades until the family-controlled Times Mirror Co. was sold to Tribune in 2000.
"Each of the buildings in Times Mirror Square reflects a different chapter in that history. Today they are all that remain to tell this powerful story of how Los Angeles came to be, and the family that put their unmistakable stamp on the region," Wolinsky said.
Josh Albrektson, an activist who has spoken out against preserving the 1970s addition on the Facebook page DTLA Development, argued it was not worthy of monument status.
"This Pereira building would have never been allowed to have been built today. It absolutely destroys the look of the 1935 art deco L.A. Times building that everybody loves," Albrektson said.
Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong, a biotech billionaire who has dedicated most of his fortune to fighting cancer, last month finalized his $500 million-plus purchase of the Los Angeles Times, the San Diego Union-Tribune and some community newspapers.