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  #1  
Old Posted Jun 2, 2008, 2:21 AM
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LOS ANGELES | AON Center | 858 FT / 262 M | 62 FLOORS | 1974

The Aon Center at 707 Wilshire in Los Angeles is a large non-descript box anchoring the south end of the LA skyline. The building is important due to the fact that it served as the tallest building in the city from 1974 until the completion of the Library Tower in 1989. The bronze-glass clad tower is 62 stories, totalling some 1,500,000SF and was built as the headquarters for the United California Bank. In 1981, the bank changed its name to First Interstate, and the tower served as the headquarters of that bank until its demise in 1992 (taken over Wells Fargo). The building went by its address until AON bought naming rights in 2001.

Designed by Charles Luckman (who also did the Prudential Center in Boston), the tower has notched aluminum clad corners which rise and culminate in an aluminum crown, which has held some sort of corporate logo since the building was opened.

When completed in 1974, the tower was the 9th tallest in the world and the tallest outside New York and Chicago.

There was some discussion about an exterior renovation in the early 90's (by either Richard Keating or Peter Pran, I forget which), but it was never completed. I've seen a rendering of it somewhere and was rather underwhelmed (not that there's much to work with).

Pictures:

source: my postcard collection
Under Construction in 1973


source: my postcard collection
Towering over the city in 1984 (note the Olympics logo)


source: my postcard collection
circa 1984


source: First Interstate Bank brochure
circa 1989


On May 4, 1988 this building had a major fire (covered heavily by the news).
From the LA Fire Department:
"During the late evening of May 4, 1988, and the early morning of May 5, 1988, members of the Los Angeles City Fire Department successfully battled what has proven to be the worst, most devastating high-rise fire in the history of Los Angeles. Extinguishing this blaze at the 62-story First Interstate Bank Building, 707 West Wilshire Boulevard, required the combined efforts of 64 fire companies, 10 City rescue ambulances, 17 private ambulances, 4 helicopters, 53 Command Officers and support personnel, a complement of 383 Firefighters and Paramedics, and considerable assistance from other City departments.
It is humbling and terrifying to realize how close we came to losing control of this fire! Had it not been for the extraordinary commitment to duty, staunch determination to extinguish the fire at all costs, and unabated heroism and courage of our brave Firefighters, I am convinced that the fire would not have been contained as it was in 3-1/2 hours. In most other cities, the building could have become a charred skeleton and, even worse, Firefighters would have lost their lives. In my view, our City is blessed with the most professional and dedicated Firefighters in the world, and this is why only one civilian life was lost and only four floors were gutted."

A TV movie was made about the fire (IIRC, the fire chief was played by the dude who was The Fall Guy).

source: LA Fire Department


source: LA Fire Department


the remaining photos are from my personal collection over the years

The building serves as a nice counterpoint to the towers on Bunker Hill


I loved that logo...I miss that logo...


Down Hope Street


From the roof of the Oviatt


Once upon a time, both of these were crowned with First Interstate logos...








Brutal and unapologetic...












defining verticality...


I have to admit I have a soft spot for this building. It isn't architecturally special in any way, but for some reason it's clean slender vertical lines resonate with me. It's a brutal building of course...but still interesting.
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  #2  
Old Posted Jun 2, 2008, 2:44 AM
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I like this skyscraper too..Sleek and vertical. I like its slender profile. Were it stockier, it would lose its graceful appearance.

I also love how the black facace plays with the light- gold in some lights, reflective black mirror in others. Very nice.
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  #3  
Old Posted Jun 2, 2008, 2:50 AM
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Also, somebody puh-leeze take that gawd-awful US Bank logo off the Library Tower!! What did she do to deserve that?
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Old Posted Jun 2, 2008, 4:54 AM
Nowhereman1280 Nowhereman1280 is offline
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I like this building, the contrast between the black window areas and the white corners is stunning. It kinda resembles the Aon Center in Chicago, but a bit shorter and with black sides instead of white ones. I guess Aon has a thing for tall boxy building with this type of massing...
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  #5  
Old Posted Jun 3, 2008, 11:31 PM
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This photo courtesy of Bill Cobb (KCgridlock - from his LA aerials thread www.urban-photos.com) made this my favorite skyscraper in Los Angeles. (if not allowed to post this photo, sorry).

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  #6  
Old Posted Jun 4, 2008, 1:28 AM
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I never thought much of this building, despite its height, its not the first thing you notice in the LA skyline, but it still has always made a major impact on the skyline

Some pics of mine:

2007





2003



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  #7  
Old Posted Jun 4, 2008, 1:39 AM
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whoa,it seems huge in some pics... Impressive.
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  #8  
Old Posted Jun 11, 2008, 6:59 AM
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Yes, it goes well with The Pegasus building.
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  #9  
Old Posted Jun 11, 2008, 7:12 AM
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The bottom is being renovated. Adding clear glass to open it up to light

south view:


North view:
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  #10  
Old Posted Jun 11, 2008, 4:33 PM
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^There was also some discussion about 5 years ago to turn the top 15 floors into condos (which went nowhere).

Nice to see that the lobby is being opened up. It's pretty dark and sinister.
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Old Posted Jun 11, 2008, 9:39 PM
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Anyone have pics of the inside of this building? I always love lobby pics
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Old Posted Jun 12, 2008, 10:49 AM
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Back in 2005 I discovered something while working @ Paul Hastings. I was busy working and thought I'd take a break. So I relaxed for a second and looked out the window (I was on the 23rd floor of the Paul Hasting Tower facing south). Of course the AON Tower grabbed my attention because it was the first Tower I ever went inside (about 1986). Granted I only went to the 19th floor (crazy how I remember that). Anyhow, I'm admiring the tower when I notice it's fatter near the bottom. The tower walls pull in at an angle ever so slightly. At first I thought I was seeing things because I found it hard to believe that after SOOO many years I never noticed that. Well, the tower has 2 strips. Below the 2 strips it's fatter than above. The Walls slightly pull in and you can see this by following the corners of the Tower. It's harder to see in the photo's but next time you guys are in downtown, take a look for yourself. Anyhow, just thought that might interest some of you. : )
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Old Posted Jun 12, 2008, 11:16 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RuFFy View Post
Back in 2005 I discovered something while working @ Paul Hastings. I was busy working and thought I'd take a break. So I relaxed for a second and looked out the window (I was on the 23rd floor of the Paul Hasting Tower facing south). Of course the AON Tower grabbed my attention because it was the first Tower I ever went inside (about 1986). Granted I only went to the 19th floor (crazy how I remember that). Anyhow, I'm admiring the tower when I notice it's fatter near the bottom. The tower walls pull in at an angle ever so slightly. At first I thought I was seeing things because I found it hard to believe that after SOOO many years I never noticed that. Well, the tower has 2 strips. Below the 2 strips it's fatter than above. The Walls slightly pull in and you can see this by following the corners of the Tower. It's harder to see in the photo's but next time you guys are in downtown, take a look for yourself. Anyhow, just thought that might interest some of you. : )
Really!? No way I have to see some sort of picture proving your observation.
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Old Posted Jun 12, 2008, 2:25 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PHX31 View Post

Take a look at the corners in this photo, smaller at the top, wider at the bottom

This building just reached a whole new level of impressivness.
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Old Posted Jun 12, 2008, 2:59 PM
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Quote:
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Really!? No way I have to see some sort of picture proving your observation.
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  #16  
Old Posted Jun 12, 2008, 4:51 PM
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I took my first photograph of this building 18 years ago (and many many since) and never noticed anything like what you are talking about.

You say the tower tapers from the ground level to the 1st mechanical floor (about 20 floors up)?

hmmmm....looks pretty straight to me...
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Old Posted Jun 12, 2008, 5:37 PM
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Well. Next time you're there take a look at it. It's obviously not a big effect, but I've seen it. I noticed it from 5th and Flower looking south. As I said, I was on the 23rd floor of the Paul Hastings Tower. You might be surprised.
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  #18  
Old Posted Jun 12, 2008, 7:34 PM
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It could be an illusion ^^ for staring at the tower so hard
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  #19  
Old Posted Jun 12, 2008, 9:22 PM
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Oh no. Take a look at the white re-entrant corners of the tower. They're definately wider at the bottom. I've read elsewhere that this slight tapering of the tower is intentional- it apparently protects agaist earthquakes.
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Old Posted Jun 12, 2008, 10:16 PM
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Like the Transamerica, but not so extreme. Whatever the reason AON is not just another box, it's something good that came out of an era of black boxes and is a true gem of 70's modernism.
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