Design Review Board Discusses Proposed Color Schemes for Historic Business Block Building 

There are three different proposed paint colors in the white stripe on the historic Business Block Building. The Design Review Board wanted to keep the building pink and to see if there was a way to accentuate the castings, such as those at the top of the pillar.

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.

TOPA, which owns the historic Business Block Building is planning to have the building painted, put up new awnings and have a new night  lighting scheme installed.

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3 Responses to Design Review Board Discusses Proposed Color Schemes for Historic Business Block Building 

  1. Sue Jameson says:

    Dear DRB, with all due respect to your volunteer hours, you do not own the building, so you are not at financial risk here. The developers have the heartbeat of potential tenants. Let the developers choose the design, provided it is within the character of the current Palisades. I have heard from many palisades residents that’s it time for the pink to go. This is not 1950 anymore. Please get current!

  2. M says:

    It would seem to me, any business wanting to be a part of Pacific Palisades community, would jump at the chance to be in the “First Business Building”. This area of Sunset Boulevard is well known. The building is a welcome sight to all who travel through or shop, eat, spend time chatting with friends and so on. I agree with Joan Graves. She and others spent a great deal of time and effort to save this part of the Palisades heredity….There is no need to change it, just a sprucing up to maintain. . Perhaps if a business wants a ‘more modern’ look they can do it inside of their rented space. The businesses that may be interested in renting from TOPA would benefit if they would be told the history and background of this building. In fact, that may be a good advertising & selling point for TOPA…. Businesses will come and go… It is not necessary to conform to any developer, or whomever. Pacific Palisades is a unique community and one would think a business would be proud to advertise their location – re “We are located in the famous “Palisades Pink Building” – located on the world famous Sunset Boulevard, in the heart of Pacific Palisades, California.” What a great opportunity/location for an advertising commercial. I also commend the DRB for stating their concerns and their ideas, it is their job to oversee suggested changes.
    No need to change the PINK BUILDING, just a bit of fresh up to maintain. If used wisely, the advertising opportunities for a business located in the Pink Building are endless.

  3. K says:

    It’s such a beautiful building, and I find it hard to believe that a paint color would stop someone from wanting to have their business there. As M notes above, and with keeping many historical buildings relevant to todays market, you can alter the inside as long as the street views are kept close to the original. A minor note- the lighter pastel will mean more exterior upkeep than the current pink.

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