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Architecture Reanimated

By 01/18/2010 September 9th, 2014 All Posts, Andrea's Posts

If you sit very still and stare at downtown L.A. from the window of the Bonaventure Hotel’s cocktail lounge, this is what you will see:

Bonaventure Cocktail Lounge

The slowly revolving floor shifts the gorgeous view before your eyes. But apart from saving up for the drinks, how do you get here?

It’s public of course, but that does not make it easy to find. There are three entrances to the Bonventure, but none of them are your traditional grand salon entrance. And two of them are from those secret sky bridges of LA, the one we took joins the hotel to Hope Street past the YMCA. You enter what feels like a back door onto the fifth floor of a dark and massive tower with spiraling stairs and pillars, and street signs to direct you to where you want to go:

Bonaventure signs

Not all elevators go to the top you see, neither do the escalators. In fact, I don’t think there were any escalators on this floor. You have to find the red elevator, the red one! (The vertiginous ride in the glass elevator up the outside of the building for 35 floors and all of Central LA laid out beneath you? Highly recommended.) Any other colour and you will be lost in this vast echoing space.

Bonaventure

It has its own stores, its own running water far far down below, it even has its own track and exercise machines where you can sweat in full view.

Bonventure track

Built by John Portman and opened in 1976, it is an iconic building. And wandering through it, I couldn’t help but think of Frederic Jameson’s comments in an essay called Postmodernism and Consumer Society. He writes that the Bonventure has no main entry because it does not wish to be part of the city, it wishes to replace it. That it puts you into such a vast space so full of stuff you can no longer get a measure of just how big it is, you lose just how much emptiness is enclosed by these enormous walls of glass. The building toys with your perspective.

Bonventure looking up

He writes that this is a space that takes vengeance on those walking through it, one that forces you to lose your bearings. It transcends us as human beings, and makes it impossible for us to find ourselves within such a context.

Me? I thought it an incredible building, but it did make me feel very small, very lost, very much in desire of a nice drink. So I set off in search of the red elevator, and thought about architecture and its impacts on how we live and see ourselves in the world. And this one almost cathedral-like in how it humbles you, God replaced by wealth, retail, and facilities for showing off while working out…

One Comment

  • Jane Paul says:

    More good news for the conscious cocktail seeker or hotel guest: The Bonaventure has received the City’s first Green Lodging Certification from a new program, administrated by Green Seal and LA Inc (aka the Convention and Visitors Bureau). More hotels are in the pipeline to be certified and the City’s Green Business Program is rolling out to help restaurants, office, retail and vehicle service repair enterprises, big and small, change their practices for the good of the environment, for public health and to lower their monthly costs, enabling sustainability and awareness in LA’s business community and beyond. If you go for a martini, a room or a meal – let this hotel know how important it is to you, and for all customers – to patronize a business that looks at saving our resources, positively impacting climate issues and improving the working conditions for employees while saving money!

    and

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