Reverse Heaven and Hell
By Kimberly Van
“A vash hall of light, received not along from the windows on all sides but from the dome, the point of which was a hundred feet above … The walls were frescoed in mellow tints, to soften without absorbing the light that flooded the interior …” -- Edward Bellamy, Looking Backwards
Muted by bustling Metro buses and citizens of James Ellroy’s favorite city wander by a simple, bricked five storied building sits on Broadway and Third. A polluted film creates a gradient backdrop behind this hidden gem. At the ground level of the building an odd sight meets you. A Sprint and Subway store has burrowed into the outer faces of the establishment. The commercialization of these two shops…show more content… Los Angeles Times Architecture critic, Christopher Hawthorne’s words float in my mind reminding me to look up – the atrium takes my breath. “It has the most striking interior in L.A.” The glazed bricks of the first floor fade into wonderful and haunting woodwork. Countless black iron rods shoot out of the warm honey tones and seem like they can touch the ceiling. The rods twist and turn within the structure, creating grates and railways. Two parallel, open elevators shafts sit opposite from each other – the silent, hydroelectric elevator boxes whiz up and down, as if someone was gently tugging on the cables. Steel rods combine into a lace-like trellis, fitted with appropriate iron flowers, fencing in the shaft. Perpendicularly, the pair of geometric staircases frames the Bradbury’s open lobby. The atrium’s sunlight is slowly filtering down the five different floors, giving a slight under water aura.
The intricate aspects overwhelm you at first. The LA Times article writes “When it was completed in 1894, for a total cost of $500,000, it contained Italian marble, Mexican floor tiles, delicate water-powered bird-cage elevators from Chicago, 288 radiators, 50 fireplaces, 215 wash basins and the largest plate-glass windows in Los Angeles.”
The Elevators Every employee and tenant I spoke to advised me the best way to see the building is take the elevator to the fifth floor and then take the stairs down. I vowed to follow the instructions,