By BRENDA REES
EAGLE ROCK — In the 1960s, it was the tallest building in Eagle Rock, towering over the landscape at a whopping three stories. After growing shabby and outdated over the decades, this Mid-Century modern building is undergoing a top-to-bottom makeover as it seeks to attract a new generation of office tenants and a ground-floor restaurant.
Officially called The Landing at Eagle Rock, (residents will probably still refer to it as the Citibank Building), the building has been an intriguing renovation project for the architects involved in reshaping and reimagining the 30,000 square-foot, steel modular-framed structure.
“It had been very neglected for many years,” says Megan Costello, project design for David Lawrence Gray Architects. “When the client showed it to us, you had to look past the added panels and hodgepodge layout but you could see the building had good bones. You could tell that at one time, the building had a lot of pride. It was an accomplishment and a statement about stability, strength and design.”
The building, located at the corner of Eagle Rock Boulevard and Merton Avenue, was constructed by California Federal Savings and Loan Assn., which hired Allison & Rible Architects to design a building to house its Eagle Rock branch. The Eagle Rock building was one of several built in the 1960s by Cal Fed, whose president, Howard Edgerton, wanted the buildings to project an image that was good for business. “Attractive financial buildings, whether they provide a rental income for the owners or not, have a psychological way of attracting money,” he told the L.A. Times in a 1962 article.
During the past year, crews have been busy renovation the building, inside and out. Possible new tenants – mainly lawyers, insurance and technology fields – have shown interest in moving into the building, with many coming from Eagle Rock and Glendale.
Much of the internal office space on the second and third floors were open up to highlight the 360-degree views of the surrounding neighborhood. Many of the windows were replaced with glass that has solar-blocking properties, technology that wasn’t around when the building was originally built. “Back then you would see louvers on windows to counter the baking you got from the sun,” says Costello.
The office layout is simple, with a corridor access from the stairwell or elevator. Clusters of private and communal spaces offer outside views from every angle. “The design thinking was a bit like playing Tetris to get it just right,” remarks Costello.
The ground floor houses the current Citibank offices, and around the corner on Merton Street, a new restaurant space has been created to serve not just office workers but the community as well. This space was not part of the original 1963 building (it came a few years later) and was, in its last incarnation, a movie office set, complete with old computers and other prop pieces.
Costello describes creating the restaurant’s mezzanine by expanding the ceiling and removing upper office spaces. “The floor to ceiling glass really brightens up the space,” she says adding that parking for the eatery will be off Merton in the back.
California native plants will be part of the outdoor greenery in planter boxes on the ground level on Merton and Eagle Rock Boulevard.
Perhaps the most noticeable change was the removal of the old, maroon-glazed tiles on the vertical columns on the facade of the building. Those columns now feature brightly-hued long rectangles, including the most mid-century color of all, turquoise.
“We originally were thinking of red, blue and yellow but we wanted to differentiate the colors from the Citibank logo,” explains Costello.
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