The Los Angeles Cultural Heritage Commission has voted in favor of designated Times Mirror Square, the erstwhile headquarters of the Los Angeles Times, as a Historic-Cultural Monument.
Located on a full block bounded by Broadway, 1st, 2nd, and Spring Streets, Times Mirror Square served as the home of the Times from the 1930s until earlier this year, when the newspaper decamped for its new offices in El Segundo. The property has been under the ownership of Onni Group since 2016, when the Vancouver-based real estate developer purchased the site from a successor to the Times’ Chicago-based owners.
The Times Mirror Square complex consists of five interconnected buildings, constructed in three phases between 1935 and 1973. Its most prominent features are the Gordon Kaufmann-designed Los Angeles Times Building and the Rowland Crawford-designed Mirror Building, both of which are located on the Spring Street side of the property. The property as it exists today was completed with the addition of the William Pereira-designed Times-Mirror Headquarters building in 1973, which was also joined by a six-story parking garage along the Broadway side of the block.
A staff report to the Cultural Heritage Commission, which recommended declaring the property a Historic-Cultural Monument, notes that Times Mirror Square “is associated with the lives and historic personages important to national, state, city, or local history,” including several members of the Chandler family which brought the Los Angeles Times to prominence and played a prominent role in the city’s development. Additionally, the staff report found that the property is an “excellent example of the Art Deco/Moderne and Late Moderne architectural styles,” and represents a significant work for both Kaufmann and Crawford.
However, the staff report also stated that that the Pereira-designed Times-Mirror Headquarters building is not a “significant representation” of the Corporate International Architectural Style, arguing that it pales in comparison to other buildings of the same style such as the L.A. Department of Water and Power’s headquarters on Hope Street. Additionally, the staff report does not regard Times Mirror Square as one of the more noteworthy examples of Pereira’s portfolio from the 1970s, which includes the Geisel Library at the University of California, San Diego and the iconic Transamerica Pyramid in San Francisco.
While the nomination, which comes from local preservationist Richard Schave, encompasses the entire property, the focus of the preservation effort is the Pereira-designed expansion. Onni Group is currently proposing to replace Times-Mirror Headquarters buildings a pair of high-rise residential towers with ground-floor retail space The Los Angeles Times and Mirror Buildings would be retained and restored as office space in Onni’s proposed development, and separated from the proposed towers through a central pedestrian walkway.
The vote by the commission also includes an amendment to the original staff report, adding the Pereira Building as a "significant work" in its findings, thus overriding the initial recommendation.
Though HCM designation does not necessarily prevent the Pereira buildings from being razed for development at some point in the future, the status does allow the Cultural Heritage Commission to delay demolition for a period of up to six months, with the potential for a six-month extension with approval from the Los Angeles City Council.
The next body to act on Times Mirror Square will be the City Council’s Planning and Land Use Committee. A vote by the Council is needed to finalize the designation.
- Times Mirror Square Archive (Urbanize LA)