Christoff Van Kooning looking out from his tower at Virgil and Fountain


East Hollywood — Is it a lighthouse? A water tower? Whatever you think it might resemble, it certainly doesn’t look like anything currently under construction nearby. And that’s what artist and builder Christoff Van Kooning intended.

“I wasn’t interested in just building a big trendy box,” said Van Kooning of the 45-foot tower. “I want to add more art to my neighborhood.”

Kooning said the tower that he and an assistant are building at the corner of Fountain and Virgil avenues is designed as “a new take on an old fashioned water tower.”

Van Kooning, a visual artist who’s had several exhibitions in California and Florida, lives with his family in the orange house adjacent to the new tower. He said he wanted the new structure, which replaced a former patio, to match the period style of the main house, which was built more than a century ago.

Before construction really got going, Van Kooning’s corner house was already notable for having a glass case in front with art displays. Early on, the display was of a giant nose — inspired by an “incessant drippy nose head cold” the artist once endured. Later displays have generally incorporated noses in some way.

Four octagonal windows frame views of the neighborhood below

But installing a giant nose in front of your house is much less complicated than building a water-tower inspired structure next door. It took him more than two years to win city approval of the tower’s unique design and features — including a catwalk that wraps around the third floor and dangles over the sidewalk.

Van Kooning expects to finish the tower — which will have space for his studio as well as a top spot for a short-term rental — by the end of the year.

Inside, the three levels of the narrow tower — it’s only 16-feet-square — are connected by a spiral staircase. Different views of the neighborhood emerge as you make your way to the top, where that catwalk affords views of the Hollywood sign as well as the Downtown skyline.

“I’m also a tall guy who’s always liked views,” he said, “and since I’m in the flatlands here, I had to build my own room with a view.”

“I wasn’t interested in just building a big trendy box” — Christoff Van Kooning

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