Look Inside L.A.’s Most Stylish New Work Space
by Mayer Rus
January 14, 2016
Forget about the goofy foosball tables and saltwater aquaria of the first Internet bubble. Ignore the weather-beaten barn wood and repurposed warehouses of the second tech boom. If you’d like a window into the leading edge of creative work (and play) spaces in 2016, you need look no further than the recently completed NeueHouse Hollywood, the West Coast counterpart to the original Manhattan office hub for the so-called creative class. And while it may be second out of the gate, the L.A. complex boasts a few attributes its Gotham forebear cannot claim: a building with an impeccable modernist pedigree; a site with a long and compelling history in the production of popular American culture; and the kinds of amenities one can enjoy only in a heavenly Mediterranean climate.
The neue NeueHouse occupies the venerable CBS Radio Building at Columbia Square in Hollywood, a designated L.A. Historic-Cultural Monument, designed in 1938 by the pioneering Swiss-born architect William Lescaze. The structure incorporates classic elements of Streamline Moderne and the nascent International Style of the 1920s and ’30s, including porthole windows, taut rectilinear forms softened by strategic curves, and novel materials such as glass blocks. Riffing on Le Corbusier’s famous dictum, CBS titan William Paley described the facility as “a machine for broadcasting.”
Columbia Square became home to the most beloved performers of radio’s golden age, among them Jack Benny, George Burns and Gracie Allen, Al Jolson, and Orson Welles. The pilot episode of I Love Lucy was shot there in Studio A, a cavernous space that remains a performance and event venue. In later years, its recording studios hosted the likes of Bob Dylan, Johnny Cash, Barbra Streisand, and the Beach Boys.
“NeueHouse and this building are a miracle match,” says designer David Rockwell of the AD100 firm the Rockwell Group. “They were both born from a truly progressive conception of the modern workplace.”
Working closely with the client’s in-house design studio, Rockwell devised a scheme that ennobles Lescaze’s daring vision by demonstrating its adaptability to contemporary technological standards as well as the NeueHouse ethos of creative community. NeueHouse founder and co-CEO Joshua Abram compares the vibe there to a fabulous dinner party.
“Like a good host, we help make introductions among a wide range of people. Without being obnoxious, we offer people the opportunity to choose their own community and take advantage of the cross-pollination of ideas,” he says. Abram credits John Kilroy of the forward-thinking Kilroy Realty Corporation for reaching out to NeueHouse to become an anchor of the 685,000-square-foot mixed-used Columbia Square development. Abram also stresses the importance of service and hospitality—there are a number of restaurant and lounge experiences, including alfresco dining on the roof terraces—in facilitating discourse and comfort in the workplace.
That mission of fostering a more gracious, inspiring work environment is furthered by the design team’s pervasive deployment of Moroccan rugs and textiles, vintage pottery and furnishings, and a color palette that enlivens the white envelope with accents of orange and blue. “Many of the great modernists decorated their own homes with ethnographic collections and other bits of exotica,” says Rockwell. “If it was good enough for Corbu and Eames, who are we to argue?”