Pale perfection characterizes the public space that DMJM Rottet designed for Paul, Hastings, Janofsky & Walker in Los Angeles
Edie Cohen -- Interior Design, 5/1/2003 12:00:00 AM
In Los Angeles, ARCO Plaza has served as an unofficial landmark—a pair of 1973 AC Martin Partners buildings standing 52 stories above downtown. Since 2002, the building has also been the L.A. home of global law firm Paul, Hastings, Janofsky & Walker. When the practice relocated to 198,000 square feet on eight floors and the north building became the Paul Hastings Tower, the firm's new interior clearly required an untraditional, forward-thinking look.
DMJM Rottet principal Lauren Rottet was a natural for the job. An architect with almost 2 million square feet of law offices to her credit, Rottet had just completed the design of Paul Hastings in New York. And she certainly knows how to push the proverbial envelope, designwise, while maintaining a high level of efficiency.
"Our rationale was to spend money in the areas seen by the client's clients," says the architect. So she made her case for combining the building's 25th and 26th floors into a double-height knockout of a public space. This 50,000-square-foot zone now encompasses reception, lounges, and a 13-room conference center. "Our previous office was yellow, gray, and old," says Patrick A. Ramsey, partner in the Paul Hastings real-estate department. "Lauren's design reflects where we're going in the future."
Opening up the window walls to the building's 10-foot module let the cityscape make a stunning first impression. "The views are part of the visual composition," says Rottet. The most dramatic panorama unfolds along a 220-foot-long stretch. Reception, a casual glassed-in meeting room, and a run of larger, glass-fronted conference rooms line up parallel to the fenestrated elevation, but Rottet pulled them back 8 to 10 feet to free up a window-front walkway as the primary circulation path. Attorneys' offices, limited to either 10-by-15-foot or 15-foot-square standards, line the remaining perimeter.
Inside, whites dominate. For the reception desk, Rottet chose a glossy lacquered body, a 3/4-inch-thick slab top of textured white Thassos marble, front panels wrapped in cream patent leather, and a stainless-steel base. Behind is a focal wall of sandblasted Cippolino marble with blue-gray veining. The gleaming Thassos marble floor surrounds a stairway with a honed Danby marble base and treads, glass balusters, and a stainless-steel handrail.
Amid the overall orthogonality, the stairway is subtly skewed and its risers slightly splayed. "I've been experimenting with tips and angles to create a sense of motion," says Rottet. Here, the stair forces perspective upward to a landing wall of Nordic ice-birch veneer— a shot of warmth amid the cool white stone. Slight shifts also occur at the ceiling perimeter, where the drywall is tilted to give the impression of greater height and depth.
Passionate about furniture—she currently has eight collections in production for as many manufacturers—Rottet designed almost every piece at Paul Hastings. Reception's custom lounge chairs, covered in velvet and leather, face a custom coffee table of lacquered wood and back-painted glass. More Rottet-designed lounge seating, framed in birch and covered with leather and long-haired mohair, inhabits the casual meeting room. At the long window wall, lacquered drum tables stand between two pairs of Arne Jacobsen Egg chairs, a mid-century vignette for the laptop and cell-phone era. As Rottet points out, "That's the way people work now."