Atelier Ace worked with local collective Commune Design to restore the United Artists building and theatre. In addition to their work at Ace Hotel Downtown Los Angeles, they’ve brought their holistic design approach to Ace Hotel & Swim Club in Palm Springs, CA and to the newly opened American Trade Hotel in Panama City, an Atelier Ace portfolio property.
The project's facade was approached as an "interpretive" restoration — what would the building have looked like if it had been a hotel, restaurant, or theatre in the heyday of the Broadway Theatre District?
The terracotta and plasterwork exterior of the building was stripped of decades of paint, carefully cleaned, and the iron grillwork restored. A wood storefront with molding reminiscent of Josef Hoffman's work was installed to frame stained glass windows, with transoms made by the legendary Judson Studios from an abstracted Gothic-inspired design. A sidewalk cafe spills from the restaurant onto the sidewalk outside, extending the Ace experience unto the neighborhood. The original theatre booth was long gone, so a new space — serving as a newsstand by day, and ticket booth by night — was designed in the deco style that appeared in Los Angeles in the late 1920's.
The building was stripped down to its minimalist concrete core, with design elements then layered on top. The original poured concrete ceilings and columns were strategically retained in most public areas and guest rooms. The public spaces in the hotel tower are intimate in scale, flowing naturally from one room to the next — the transition from registration, elevator vestibule, coffee bar, restaurant and into the mezzanine lounge is seamless.
The result is a singular experience, a collection of architectural and design references piled on top of one another. Gropius' office and the Bauhaus, Viennese cafes, Mission-style churches, Luis Barragan, Parisian modernism, Piet Mondrian, and Adolf Loos share space with each other, a nod to the irreverence and "no holds barred" design attitude of Los Angeles in the 1920's and 30's.
ROOFTOP POOL AND LOUNGE
The aptly named Upstairs rooftop space was transformed into an indoor/outdoor lounge and pool inspired by Frank Lloyd Wright’s Ennis House and the legendary Hollywood night spot Les Deux Café. Upstairs features a concrete bunker-like bar with a light installation by costume designer and returning Ace collaborator Michael Schmidt, made of hundreds of feet of vintage steel chain and barn hardware, with salvaged original theatrical lights found in the theatre. The concrete pool is inspired by Donald Judd’s pool in Marfa, and is adjacent to a courtyard lined with steel frame windows and patterned canopies by local artist Alia Penner. Ceramic lanterns hang from a Coral tree, positioned in the center of the courtyard near the outdoor fireplace. Furnishings are a combination of Equipale-style and ‘Pencil’ cedar pieces by Joshua Tree sculptor Alma Allen. Custom light fixtures in the outdoor area were made by Robert Lewis Design, who has also worked with Ace at our property in Palm Springs.
Landscape designer Matthew Brown created an installation faithful to the era of the design and construction of the building — it’s not intended to awe or impress, but to create a sense of home and comfort, to provide a sanctuary from the city. Flowing 'San Diego Red' Bougainvillea cascades from the rooftop, with Boston Ivy and Creeping Fig vines patterning the walls and windows of the rooftop lounge and pool area, would have been found in the garden estates of the founders of United Artists and their friends. The Naked Coral tree that anchors the rooftop lounge provides periodic guests to Ace a sense of seasonal change — something unexpected in Los Angeles, but noticeable to a careful eye.
ART AND DESIGN PARTNERSHIPS
Film and art director Mike Mills created the art for the rooms, following a 2012 artistic collaboration at Ace Hotel & Swim Club in Palm Springs. The pieces he designed for Ace Hotel Downtown Los Angeles highlight news events from the year of 1927, with the work in each individual room contributing to a sweeping property-wide narrative. Simon and Nikolai Haas designed two major pieces for the property, including the lobby reception desk, which utilized reclaimed wood from the office spaces in the building before its Ace restoration. They also provided large hand-drawn murals for reception area and restaurant featuring Los Angeles-inspired hieroglyphics — a psychedelic wonderland peppered with California historical references and subtle visual jokes to charm and encourage conversation among visitors.
Simon Haas also collaborated with Ceramic Kwill to create ceramic vessels and altars for placement in the Theatre and Upstairs, in addition to custom jugs for use in our suites. Stained glass pieces in the lobby storefront and LA Chapter were designed by Judson Studios, a fifth-generation Los Angeles institution that also outfits most of the churches in the area. Each piece of stained glass is made in-house in Highland Park.
THEATRE AT ACE HOTEL
An Ace restoration of the historic United Artists Theatre is available for concerts, premieres, private screenings, conferences, seminars, performances and creative gatherings in 2014. The original murals and intricate plasterwork inside the theatre were restored, while theatre seats were reclaimed and reupholstered. New carpet with a Yin and Yang pattern, inspired by the original ceiling the mezzanine, was installed, along with a new Deco-inspired ticket booth in the façade. Built in 1927 in a Spanish Gothic style, the historic theatre offers 2,300 square feet of lobby space with a 35' ceiling, 1,600 seats and a 783 square foot event space.
The grand entrance, intricate detail and awe-inspiring craftsmanship illustrate Pickford's prescient instinct to house cinema in devotional dress. The ornately decorated open balcony and mezzanine overlook the expansive theatre, orchestra and proscenium arch, while thousands of tiny mirrors glimmer in the vaulted ceilings. Richly colored murals depict the legends of film's Golden Age, immortalized in mythic attire. The overall effect is a warm, lushly appointed feast for the eyes, rife with history and creative spirit.
DESIGN Atelier Ace worked with local collective Commune Design to restore the United Artists building and theatre. In addition to their work at Ace Hotel Downtown Los Angeles, they’ve brought their holistic design approach to Ace Hotel & Swim Club in Palm Springs, CA and to the newly opened American Trade Hotel in Panama City, an Atelier Ace portfolio property. EXTERIOR The project's facade was approached as an "interpretive" restoration — what would the building have looked...
- Year 2013
- Work finished in 2013
- Status Completed works
- Type Hotel/Resorts