Friday, June 26, 2009

An Early Look at the New School on the Ambassador Hotel Site

They destroyed Los Angeles' landmark Ambassador Hotel. Now, if there's any consolation, the LAUSD is at least making an effort to pay tribute to the legendary hotel by re-creating the famed Paul Williams coffee shop, as well as modeling the school's auditorium after the Cocoanut Grove.

I guess it's something. LA Mag's Chris Nichols was contacted (he has a rare color photo of what the coffee shop looked like) and filed this report (at the LAMag site) on his visit to the Ambassador site:

The main building was demolished in 2006, but vestigal remains (very vestigal) were retained and are being restored. Other elements are being recreated, and that’s why I got a call.

Being a collector of vintage Los Angeles ephemera, I had what turned out to be the only color photograph of the Paul R. Williams-designed coffee shop at the hotel in its prime. South Pasadena-based restoration architect Mark Stankard is rebuilding this lost dining area as a teacher’s lounge in the new school and planned to match its 1940s colors and finishes.

During our visit Mark showed off the west wall of the Cocoanut Grove, the entrance canopy, and the original driveway pylons that have been retained and are being restored. The main auditorium, modeled after the Cocoanut Grove nightclub, will be on the same site as the original. Along Wilshire, workers swarmed all over the sign tower, which will once again feature elaborate water jets and a replica of the classical nude sculpture that welcomed visitors. This time she’ll be draped in a “negligee” added by the Denver-area sculptor. Much of the Wilshire frontage, including the driveway, will become a pocket park complete with art installations of tile and benches inspired by the hotel that feature a repeating soundtrack of music from the Grove and ghostly, disembodied memorials from long ago visitors.

Go to the site (scroll down) to read more -- including a bizarre-o Sharon Stone story.

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