Century Plaza Placed on Endangered List

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Development group plans to tear down hotel designed by Minoru Yamasaki.

RAFU WIRE SERVICES

The Century Plaza, which has played host to presidents, was among the landmarks placed on a list of most endangered historic places on Tuesday, April 27, by the National Trust for Historic Preservation. 

Designed by renowned Nisei architect Minoru Yamasaki, who would later design New York’s World Trade Center twin towers, the hotel incorporates Yamasaki’s ornamental, textural and sculptural trademarks. Yamasaki also designed the 1975 twin Century Plaza towers, the striking triangular buildings east of the hotel. 

It’s hard for a generation that has grown up with such architecture to recognize it as historically significant, said Richard Moe, director of the trust. 

“The problem is we’re losing most of the best examples before they become historic,” Moe said. 

The 19-story hotel has been a popular place to stay for Washington politicos, earning it the nickname “West Coast White House.” 

A $36 million facelift was completed in 2008, months before it was bought by a partnership led by investor Michael Rosenfeld. 

In December, the group announced a $2 billion plan to replace the metal and glass structure with two sleek skyscrapers containing condominiums and shops. 

Rosenfeld has said the project will attract full-time residents to a pedestrian-friendly environment in what has been a notoriously sterile corner of the city. Developers also say the new structure will cut energy use. 

Preservationists reject those arguments. 

“Find a vacant lot instead of tearing down this mass of steel and concrete,” actress Diane Keaton said at a press conference on Tuesday. “You won’t be using up all that energy tearing down a building.”

 Other sites on the list include the Utah hangar that housed the Enola Gay B-29 bomber that dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima and the Hawaiian town of Lanai City featuring plantation-style homes built by 1920s pineapple baron James Dole. In 2007 the National Trust for Historic Preservation placed the Minidoka Internment National Monument on its list of endangered places.

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