The Pacific Palisades Design Review Board met virtually on October 28 to discuss proposed paint changes for the historic Business Block Building, located since 1924 between Sunset, Swarthmore and Antioch.
Resident Joan Graves, who led the “Don’t Mall the Palisades” campaign to save the building from a developer’s unpopular intentions in the early 1980s, spoke during public comment.
“Thank you for your careful consideration for this building,” Graves told the representatives from Gensler, the international design and architecture firm that was hired by the building’s owner, TOPA, to create a new exterior look. “We’re asking for TOPA to once again listen to the community.”
Graves continued, “This building should stand out and not blend in with the rest of the community. Tenants should point out that they are in the historic ‘pink building.'”
TOPA owner Scott Glendenin told the DRB members that his group is struggling to find tenants, especially during the Covid-19 crisis, and has been told by prospective tenants they wanted something more modern-looking than “the Pepto-Bismol building.”
“We are not trying to diminish the public comments and the community,” Glendenin said. “We need to balance the needs of commerce with the needs of the community.”
Graves reminded everybody that the iconic Beverly Hills Hotel remains pink and asked the DRB and TOPA to “keep the building pink.”
DRB member Paul Darrall (of Darrall+Design+ Consultants) said that when he went to look at the three paint samples that had been painted on the building, community members stopped by to reiterate that they wanted the building kept pink.
Darrall, who has worked on buildings in Santa Barbara and with its design review board, said that the castings should also be emphasized.
DRB member Maryam Zar questioned the proposed awning color, which appears to be a dark grey (replacing the current dark green awnings). In historic photos, the awnings were striped at one time, and the DRB wondered if Gensler had considered going to a stripe.
“The striped version is specific and doesn’t work for each tenant,” responded Gensler’s Mark Lagola.
About the paint swatches, DRB President Donna Vaccarino said, “The building has such a presence that none of these three colors seem to bring that out.” (The three colors can be viewed on the building. Two are cream-colored, the third-percale-had more of a rose tone.)
Member Leah Cox said, “We’re losing architectural detail. We are doing a disservice to the Palisades by washing the colors out.”
Longtime member Barbara Kohn noted that the board had received more comments about the color of the building than any other project the board has reviewed.
“Percale would be my favorite in my home,” Kohn said. “These are colors that one would choose for a background. More pink is what I’d like to see. These are beautiful colors but for something else, not this building. This building is the pride of the Palisades.”
Vaccarino added, “These colors could be anywhere. Color has an inner life.”
After much discussion, the board members agreed that percale, the pinkest swatch, would be acceptable.
Cox asked, “How do they set the casting apart?” The building has some intricate ornamental designs on some of the arches, at the top of the building and around some of the windows.
Zar said, “If the entire building were percale, it would set a pink tone. But the dark taupe awnings take the color away. Can some of the details be highlighted with a contrasting color?”
A continuation until December 9 was approved.
TOPA representatives said they will consider a lighter color for the awnings and consider an accent color for the castings.
Vaccarino suggested that Gensler’s people gain color inspiration by taking a look at California buckwheat, a native plant.
“TOPA is happy to do a mock-up on the building and invite people to look at it,” Glendenin said.