Law and Reorder
Skidmore, Owings & Merrill lightens up Dewey Ballantine's presence in Los Angeles
Anne Guiney -- Interior Design, 12/1/2002 12:00:00 AM
When the New York corporate law firm Dewey Ballantine set up a branch in downtown Los Angeles in the mid-'80s, the firm's offices were a bit of white-shoe Manhattan plunked down in Tinsel Town. As the West Coast team developed a separate identity, partners decided to lose the stodgy image. They called in a fellow L.A. transplant, Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, which had long before solved a similar problem and established a strong local identity.
Project designer Charles Lee established a lighter and cleaner take on the leather-and-oak tradition, in keeping with Dewey Ballantine's collegial atmosphere. While there is marble, it is white—and employed sparingly. While there is wood paneling, it is anigre, a pale African hardwood that sets a refined tone throughout the 50,000-square-foot interior, from the elevator banks and reception desk to the movable library stacks and built-in desks for 72 attorneys. In the waiting area, Lee set off the warm wood with beige and moss upholstery. The result is cool without being frosty. "It has a clubby or residential feel," says Lee. Identity crisis averted.