Admiration for Historic Business Block Building Underlies a Cooperative DRB Hearing

TOPA, the company that owns the Business Block Building is looking to refresh its look. This is the view from Antioch Street.

In the second Pacific Palisades Design Review Board meeting regarding a “refresh” of the 1924 Business Block Building, located on Sunset Boulevard, admiration for the building and cooperation between Gensler (a global and design and architecture firm) and the DRB was the guiding principle.

“We want to provide improvements to the property while being respectful to its history,” said Gensler’s Mark Lagola.

The first attempt at “updating” the building’s exterior with white paint and black and white awnings was met with resistance, not only by the DRB at its July meeting, but also from more than 150 residents who weighed in through social media or other sources. According to resident Sandy Eddy, who spoke during public comment at this meeting, about 50 people were in favor of retaining the building’s distinctive pink color and another 20 said they did not want white.

After that July meeting, an historical restoration expert, Olivia White, came to the building and paint was scraped off, revealing that one of the previous colors was cream.

This gave Gensler an opportunity to propose a “warm cream” color in the document submitted to the DRB. The color appears to have a pink tone.

At least two DRB members said they didn’t particularly like the building’s current Pepto-Bismo pink and wondered if a lighter pink could replace it.

DRB Chair Donna Vaccarino first praised Gensler for the update, calling it a sophisticated color scheme. But she noted that the community seemed to want more color.

Board member Maryam Zar also praised Gensler for the revised version and said, “This building is a jewel of our community and is timeless. The pink color seems to resonate with people.” She noted that the cream color seemed to have a pink tone and said, “If you’re giving a nod to the pink, that would be great.”

Community historian Randy Young, who did a profile of the building’s history in the 1980s, told Gensler’s representative during public comment, “In general, you did a good job.”

He shared that he had done paint cratering (a way of determining the different layers of paint) and there was “confirmation that the original color was pink.”

Board members asked about having stripe awnings — or ones with more contrast to the building — to keep the building from looking “bland.”

TOPA owner Scott Clendenin spoke about the feedback that TOPA had received from prospective tenants. “We need to balance the needs of the community with the needs of commerce,” he said.

The proposed exterior lighting, which will replace floodlights, will focus on the structure’s architectural features, which everyone agreed was an improvement.

The DRB approved the signage plan, the lighting and the updated landscaping, which will include trees in front of the Bank of America. The Board asked if Gensler could provide paint samples on the sides of the building, so that the Board could approve a specific color. They asked if color samples of the awning could also be provided.

The Gensler people were agreeable to having DRB members look at the proposed colors painted on the building to determine an actual shade.

The proposed awnings are closer to the original shape of the awnings and Gensler’s Lagoda agreed to bring a darker color sample to the next meeting, tentatively in two weeks.

Gensler, a global design and architectural firm, is working with the Pacific Palisades Design Review Board to “refresh” the building that was built in 1924. This the view from Sunset Boulevard.

(Editor’s note: Long-time resident Richard Wilken sent over the following black and white historical photos of the Business Block Building.)

Rich Wilken did this drawing of the Business Block Building in 2019, based on historical photos.

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5 Responses to Admiration for Historic Business Block Building Underlies a Cooperative DRB Hearing

  1. Betsy Handler says:

    The proposed cream building is far too generic, and lacks the distinction of the building as it exists. Add landscaping, but leave the building alone. If it ain’t broke. . . .

  2. Jon says:

    Building color is fine, but the awnings are drab. They need some brighter or darker color to “ pop . “

  3. Rich Wilken says:

    Looking at historical photos of the Business Block, photos show striped awning materials. I’ll share a few phots with you via email

  4. Sue says:

    Rich,

    The Gensler people also showed numerous historical photos–but yours are so clear–I’ll maybe post them at the end of this story, if that’s okay.

    Sue

  5. Pingback: Readers React to Suggested New Colors for Town’s Historic ‘Pink Building’ on Sunset |

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