Westin Bonaventure Hotel

(1976)**^ – Aerial view looking southwest showing the Westin Bonaventure Hotel under construction on the southeast corner of 4th and Figueroa streets.  


Historical Notes

The Westin Bonaventure Hotel was designed by architect John C. Portman, Jr. and constructed between 1974 and 1976. In no time at all the hotel became a Los Angeles landmark.  It is one of the most photographed buildings in Southern California.




(1977)* - The Bonaventure Hotel as seen from across 4th Street with Union Oil building in background.  


Historical Notes

At 35-stories tall, the Westin Bonaventure Hotel and Suites is the largest hotel in the city.  The top floor has a revolving restaurant and bar. It was originally owned by investors that included a subsidiary of Japanese conglomerate Mitsubishi Corporation and John Portman & Associates. The building is managed by Interstate Hotels & Resorts (IHR).^




(ca. 1980)^x^ - The Westin Bonaventure Hotel and its courtyard with modern-style streetlights seen in the foreground.  


Historical Notes

Although the top floor is numbered "35", there are no floors numbered "7" or "13"; so technically this is only a 33-story building. The four elevator banks (each containing three cars for a total of 12) are named by colors and symbols: Red Circle (the only one that goes to "35"; the other three only go to "32"), Yellow Diamond, Green Square, and Blue Triangle.^




(1980)* - The old and the new. The Bonaventure Hotel towers above the Engstrum Hotel Apartments in downtown Los Angeles.  


Historical Notes

Owner Fred E. Engstrum built the 220-room, six-story Engstrum Hotel at 623 Fifth Street. Its dedication in 1914 was reported as an evening of continual music and dancing without intermission. Residents of the hotel included film stars Charlie Chaplin and Rudolph Valentino. One of the last hotels to be razed as part of the redevelopment project, it was replaced by the 73-story Library Tower.




(1983)* - Close-up view of the Bonaventure Hotel located at 404 S. Figueroa Street. A Los Angeles landmark designed by Architect John C. Portman, Jr.  


Historical Notes

With 1,474 rooms, the 35-story Westin Bonaventure is the largest hotel in Los Angeles (574 more rooms than any other hotel in Downtown Los Angeles).

This unique structure evokes a 1970s vision of the future using circular shapes, massive forms, and the concept of space as experience.

The exterior of the hotel is comprised of four mirrored cylinders surrounding a slightly taller central tower. The towers sit atop a six story high concrete base, much like a rocket ship on a launch pad. Adding another futurist dimension to the hotel, pedestrian skywalks high above the city streets connect the second through sixth floors of the hotel to buildings in the surrounding area.^^




(1980)* - View looking southwest from the courtyard of the Security Pacific Tower showing the Westin Bonaventure Hotel.  In the background stands the ARCO Towers on the left and the Union Bank Building at center-right.  





(1981)** – Elevated view looking NW from Bank of America building showing three towers of Bonaventure Hotel at right, Union Bank Building at left; and the Harbor Freeway at center.  





(1989)* - View showing the Westin Bonaventure Hotel with the Union Bank Building standing behind it.  


Historical Notes

A revolving cocktail lounge which offers 360º views of Los Angeles is located on the 35th floor of the central tower.




(ca. 1980)^x^ - Interior view of the Westin Bonaventure looking down from one of its many circular walkways.  


Historical Notes

Inside, massive circular concrete forms rise seven stories from reflecting pools to connect with curved walkways that lead to lounging, dining, and shopping areas. In each quadrant of the atrium, dark glass elevators surrounded by reflecting pools shoot through the glass roof to climb up the exterior of the building.^^




(ca. 1980)^x^ - Interior view of the Westin Bonaventure Hotel showing its maze-like structure of half loops and symmetrical concrete.  





(2018)^.^ - Looking up toward the top of the Westin Bonaventure Hotel.  One of the two towers of the City National Plaza (Paul Hastings Tower) can be seen on the left.  


Historical Notes

The hotel and its architect John Portman have been the subject of documentaries and academic analysis.
In his book Postmodern Geographies: The Reassertion of Space in Critical Social Theory (1989), Edward Soja describes the hotel as:

...a concentrated representation of the restructured spatiality of the late capitalist city: fragmented and fragmenting, homogeneous and homogenizing, divertingly packaged yet curiously incomprehensible, seemingly open in presenting itself to view but constantly pressing to enclose, to compartmentalize, to circumscribe, to incarcerate. Everything imaginable appears to be available in this micro-urb but real places are difficult to find, its spaces confuse an effective cognitive mapping, its pastiche of superficial reflections bewilder co-ordination and encourage submission instead. Entry by land is forbidding to those who carelessly walk but entrance is nevertheless encouraged at many different levels. Once inside, however, it becomes daunting to get out again without bureaucratic assistance. In so many ways, its architecture recapitulates and reflects the sprawling manufactured spaces of Los Angeles.*^




(1984)* - Aerial view looking down at the top of the Westin Bonaventure Hotel.  






(1977)^^ - Looking up to the top of the Westin Bonaventure Hotel.  





(2020)^.^ – Detailed close-up view showing the contours of the Westin Bonaventure Hotel.  Photo by Howard Gray  




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