Renovation of Julia Morgan’s ornate Herald-Examiner building in DTLA begins

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Crews have begun renovating the long-empty Los Angeles Herald-Examiner building in south downtown Los Angeles as part of an adaptive reuse project that will convert the venerable Julia Morgan-designed jewel into a mixed-use space.

As a first step, crews for the Gensler architectural firm last month began removing concrete that was installed in the building facade’s arches, freeing up large windows that were part of the original design, Urbanize.LA reported.

The newspaper blocked up the windows after they were damaged during the fractious, decade-long labor strike in the late 1960s and ’70s that eventually weakened the newspaper and precipitated its ultimate failure in the 1980s.

The Herald-Examiner building before renovations got underway.
Michael Locke / Curbed LA flickr pool

A postcard of the building as it appeared before the ground floor windows were blocked up.

The Mission Revival/Spanish Colonial-style building at Broadway and 11th Street—which is owned by former Herald-Examiner publisher Hearst Corp. and its partner, Georgetown Co.—will be converted into creative spaces and first-floor restaurants, with completion sometime this year, theLos Angeles Times reported.

The Times noted the building’s pedigree:

In the early 1900s, Hearst commissioned California’s first registered woman architect, Julia Morgan, to design a headquarters for what was then the Los Angeles Examiner prior to a merger with another paper. Morgan, who later designed Hearst Castle, incorporated Spanish, Italian and Moorish touches and created an ornate lobby of marble and gold with hand-painted tiled flooring.

William Randolph Hearst reportedly had a private apartment in the building, where he would entertain guests.


The main lobby
Courtesy of Hollywood Locations

The interior of the Herald-Examiner building as it appeared (as a police station) in 1995’s The Usual Suspects.

The $40 million renovation will also include the building’s interior, which features an elaborate lobby and has appeared in several films and TV shows, including The Usual Suspects, The Prestige and Insidious. (The second story, which housed the newsroom and offices, is much more utilitarian than the lobby.)

The building, which was constructed at the turn of the 20th century, has otherwise sat empty since 1989, when the Herald-Examiner shut down.

The Herald-Examiner project is part of a revival of the area south of downtown, which includes the Ace Hotel. Right behind the Herald-Examiner, Forest City is building a residential and retail complex, the Times reported.

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