AKA: Security Pacific Plaza, Office Building, Downtown, Los Angeles, CA; Office Building, Downtown, Los Angeles, CA

Structure Type: built works - commercial buildings - office buildings

Designers: Martin, A.C. and Associates, Architects (firm); Olin Partnership (firm); Sasaki, Walker Associates (SWA), Incorporated, Landscape Architects (firm); Charles Griggs (architect); J. Edward Martin (architect/engineer); Albert Carey Martin Jr. (architect); Laurie Olin (landscape architect); Peter J. Walker (landscape architect)

Dates: constructed 1972-1974

55 stories, total floor area: 1,421,711 sq. ft.

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333 South Hope Street
Downtown, Los Angeles, CA 90071

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This starkly rectangular office building, distinctively set on angle to the surrounding street grid, served as the World Headquarters of the Security Pacific National Bank (SPNB) between 1975-1991. The Security Pacific Plaza was one of Los Angeles's largest skyscrapers of the mid-1970s, containing 55 stories and 1.4 million square feet. The skyscraper's shaft was perched on a 9-story garage containing 2,242 parking spaces. Peter J. Walter (b. 1932), who headed the San Francisco-based landscape architecture firm, SWA Group, worked on the SPNB commission, creating a 3.5-acre plaza set on top of the bank's garage. The SWA Group design consisted of four quadrants of evergreen pear trees, planted in a grid, set around a round, sunken well trimmed by jacaranda trees. The well had four willows planted in semi-circular berms, and a central catch basin (symbolically the state's "pot of gold.") The basin received water dropped from spigots at the end of three linear canals one floor above. The canals separated three of the planted quadrants. On the plaza's north central portion, a 45-foot-tall Alexander Calder sculpture stood, near to the main entrance. SWA also did the stepped hardscaping and semi-circular plantings set around half-circular fountains on the building's northwest and southwest sides. Walker derived the formal, geometrical composition from indigenous Spanish/Mexican precedents. According to a 1989 article in Process Architecture, "In the arid lands of Mexico and Spain, scarce water must be conserved. Flowers and shrubs are massed in pots. Trees are planted in straight lines, recalling the orchards of the central valley. Symmetry and geometrical forms prevail." (See "Security Pacific National Bank Plaza 1974," Process Architecture, 85, 10/1989, p. 56.) Originally, 3,800 people worked in the world headquarters of the SPNB. The bank had expanded quickly following World War II through the acquisition of many smaller banks in CA. It grew much larger in 1988 with its purchase of the Hibernia Bank; during a local dip in real estate prices and the onset of the savings and loan crisis of the early 1990s, confidence in SPNB grew shaky. In 1992, Bank of America and SPNB merged and the latter brand was retired. Following the Bank of America-SPNB merger, it was called "333 South Hope Plaza," from 1991-c. 1997. For a brief time, perhaps two years or so, it was then referred to as "ARCO Center," when the Atlantic Richfield oil company became a main tenant. From 1999-2004, The building was known as the "BP Plaza." (British Petroleum [BP] moved in when it bought the assets of ARCO in 1999.) Beacon Capital Partners, a real estate investment trust from Boston, MA, purchased Bunker Hill's BP Plaza for $269,000,000 in 08/2002. It vied with 10 other firms to buy the building from the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company. Beacon Capital set about improving the building's image and improving its profitability for the next buyer. It raised parking revenue and leased out large office blocks, including a 197,000-square-foot area to the Bank of America, which moved its main Los Angeles offices here in 2003-2004. Since that time, the building has been known as "Bank of America Plaza." By sprucing up the property slightly, Beacon looked to make a quick profit. It sold the building in 07/2004 to Trizec Properties, Incorporated, a Chicago real estate investment trust, for $440 million. Brookfield Properties owned the building in 2013.

Between 1975-2004, the Security Pacific National Bank (SPNB), Headquarters Building #2, Los Angeles, CA, was known by five names: "Security Pacific National Bank Plaza" (1975-1991); "333 South Hope Street Plaza" (c. 1991-1997); "ARCO Center" (c. 1997-1999), "BP Plaza" (1999-2003); "Bank of America Plaza" (2003-present). The primary original tenants were the SPNB (which housed 8,000 employees in 1 million square feet of the building), Atlantic Richfield Company (ARCO), a major, local, oil concern, Capital Group Companies and Sheppard, a Los Angeles-based investment firm founded in 1931 by Jonathan Bell Lovelace (1895–1979) as "Lovelace, Dennis and Renfrew," and Mullin, Richter and Hampton, begun as a general practice law firm in 1927. Working for the prolific, Los Angeles-based A.C. Martin and Associates architectural firm, Charles Griggs was the Chief Architect for the Security Pacific Plaza. Griggs designed the bank building to be one of the first "resilient" office headquarters; he stated: "The one thing I am the most proud of is a decision I made early on in the design processes and that was to design this building like 'a ship at sea.' This project assumes that in a major event (earthquake) there would be no one to help us, no 911, police, fire, medical, water, sewer, communications, nada.... To my knowledge this is the only building in the world that is totally self sufficient in a major catastrophe and could stand alone for about 10 days without any help from the outside world." (See "The Bank of America Plaza,"Accessed 2013-12-05.) Prior to receiving this commission, Martin and Associates had been responsible for many Los Angeles landmarks including the 1900 Avenue of the Stars Building (Century City, 1969-1970), Union Bank Square (1967), and magnificent City of Los Angeles, Department of Water and Power Building (1964-1965).

In 1986, A.C. Martin and Associates designed the YMCA Main Building #2, known as the Stuart M. Ketchum Downtown YMCA, on top of the Arco Plaza parking garage. Thomas Properties announced $125 million renovation plan, July 2003. Changes would include: office renovations directed by the project's original architects, A.C. Martin Partners, extensive landscaping changes by Laurie Olin of Olin Partnership, two new restaurants to replace the lobbies facing Fifth and Sixth Streets, and new signage by Sussman/Prejza of Santa Monica. Additionally, retail spaces and special lighting have been added during this renovation; City National Bank of Beverly Hills announced its intention to lease 310,000 square feet in the Arco Plaza South Tower, in November 2003; the complex would be renamed City National Plaza in September 2005;

PCAD id: 166