AKA: Westin Bonaventure Hotel, Downtown, Los Angeles, CA

Structure Type: built works - dwellings -public accommodations - hotels

Designers: Herrick Corporation (firm); Portman, John C. and Associates (firm); John Calvin Portman Jr. (architect/developer)

Dates: constructed 1974-1976

35 stories

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404 South Figueroa Avenue
Downtown, Los Angeles, CA 90071-1710

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Portman's spectacular Bonaventure Hotel and Renaissance Center (1977) in Detroit, MI, were two of the most photographed and controversial buildings erected in American urban centers of the 1970s. The buildings were inwardly focused, providing Piranesian views on the interior, but were perceived to be cut off from the street life surrounding them. Remarkably futuristic in aesthetic impact, they were, nonetheless, viewed by many contemporaries as luxurious, elitist towers aloof from the manifold urban problems plaguing all American downtowns of the period.

Building History

Atlanta architect/developer John C. Portman, Jr.'s (1924-2017) design for the Bonaventure foreshadowed the cylindrical forms used at the larger Renaissance Center in Detroit, MI, which was finished in stages between 1977-1981. The 5 cylinders were sheathed in reflective glass; this impenetrable feature, along with the building's raised foundations, gave the Bonaventure the look of a fortress. The Westin Bonaventure hotel refers to this insular quality when it referred to the building on its web site as "a city within a city" and the "ultimate urban oasis." (Seeaccessed 03/03/2010.) In 11/1991, owners of the Bonaventure property, the Mitsubishi Trading Company of Japan and John C. Portman, Jr., filed for bankruptcy to prevent foreclosure by the Equitable Life Assurance Society of New York. Mitsubishi and Portman owed the Equitable payments on a $75 million mortgage. The Westin Bonaventure closed temporarily during this period of bankruptcy.

Building Notes

The Bonaventure Hotel was designed to stand 367 feet tall with 35 stories. Its futuristic atrium, a signature element of John Portman, Jr.'s 1970s buildings, rises 7 stories. The hotel has been the scene for a number of motion pictures, most notably Wolfgang Petersen's "In the Line of Fire," (1993). In 2004, the Bonaventure Brewing Company occupied Suite #418A in the Westin Bonaventure Hotel; in 2010, the Bonaventure contained 1,354 rooms, 19 restaurants and lounges, 110,000 square feet of conference space, a 15,000-square-foot spa, a small shopping mall, a health club and indoor jogging track. Architect Michael Bednar observed of the Bonaventure in 1989: "Five cylindrical guest towers, containing 1,318 rooms and 150 suites, rise from a four-story, fortresslike podium containing the atrium. The space is exciting, but is also extremely disorienting." (See Michael J. Bednar, Interior Pedestrian Places, [New York: Whitney Library of Design, 1989], p. 115.)

Los Angeles County Assessor Number: 5151020008

PCAD id: 187