Sunset Strip Shines at 9200 Sunset
I've often described Los Angeles as a city in search of its center. Downtown Los Angeles with its cluster of skyscrapers is slowly undergoing a resurgence (the L.A. Live complex is helping that along) but it could be argued that the Sunset Strip is really the heart of what the city represents. The section of Sunset Boulevard between Beverly Hills and Hollywood has been getting a lot of love lately. A recent initiative has installed larger-than-life guitars designed by celebrities in front of buildings along the street. The Strip has also been the site of several concerts this summer at various venues like the Roxy being filmed for an upcoming documentary on the Sunset Strip music scene.
But there's more than music going on here. There's also serious business and serious money on the scene. I stopped by the other day to check out one of the hottest commercial buildings in the area, 9200 Sunset. The building is a Sunset Strip classic, 9200 Sunset's three-story 50,000 square-foot office building was built in 1964 and the 14-story high rise was built in the early 1970s both by renowned American architect Charles Luckman. Luckman is a fascinating figure, not just an architect but a business man who was named the president of the Pepsodent toothpaste company in 1939 at the tender age of thirty and later became the president of Lever Brothers. After helping to plan the Lever Brothers' New York skyscraper, Lever House, he rediscovered his childhood love of architecture, resigned the presidency of Lever Brothers, moved to Los Angeles and began a second career in architecture. Luckman's firm went on to design the Prudential Tower in Boston, Madison Square Garden in New York City and the NASA Manned Spacecraft Center in Houston.
The Luckman Plaza as 9200 Sunset was first called, was a particular labor of love. The small triangular building was created first and the three-story building was Luckman's headquarters for a while. Shown above is the plaza before renovations. The top floor of the 14-story building was his residence. Below is a picture of the construction of 9200 Sunset.
The entire building has had a renovation that cost around $30 million. Award-winning architect Stephen Kanner was responsible for the top to bottom redo that took the property into the new century, reviving the architecture in a way that made it look totally fresh. Check out the after shot below. One of the biggest chances was the replacement of the windows, turning 1970s grid-like style into something a bit more modern and fresh.
That expansive space on the top floor of the taller building, which was once a lavish home complete with Mrs. Luckman's rose garden with a view, is now the West Hollywood outpost of the Soho House. The ultra-private luxury club is reached through a separate entrance near the valet parking stand and an elevator whisks you up to a light-filled aerie with some of the city's best views. There is a large bar but also plenty of balcony space along the edges of the building and lots of cozy corners for dealmaking. Mrs. Luckman's rose garden is now a tranquil dining space. Instead of putting in the usual pool and cabanas on the open roof, the Soho House opted for a very different feel-- reclaimed charmingly worn wood floors, a small lily pond, trees with sheltering branches and small potted plants give this luxury space the feeling of a private terrace. The casual setting and casual dress of the club belie the serious business that is done here but that too, is classic Sunset Strip, classic Los Angeles.
The renovated lobby has a sleek and open look. The building is also home to the West Hollywood outpost of BOA Steakhouse. Those outside of Los Angeles have probably become familiar with this spot because TMZ and other paparazzi tend to hang out nearby waiting on the many celebrities who tend to stop by to see, be seen and linger over tuna tartare and Kobe beef.
Office space in the building is at a premium. Joseph Mani of Mani Brothers told me that the building is at over 90 percent occupancy despite some pretty high rental rates. Stars with production companies often get space here before moving over to free space at "the lot." Drew Barrymore once had space here as did Tobey Maguire. Infamous wiretapping private eye Anthony Pellicano also rented space here. The courtyard between the buildings is open to the public and is a private spot for both tenants and those working in nearby locations to escape. It also serves as rentable party space for tenants when needed.
Mani Brothers has a bit of a mini-empire on this stretch of Sunset. They also own the nearby monolithic 9000 Sunset Blvd. and a medical building at 9201 Sunset Blvd shown above. A little further down the road at 8439 Sunset Blvd., they own Piazza del Sol, an Italian villa-styled property built in 1927. Like a movie star, the Sunset Strip may reinvent itself every few years but it always holds on to what works.