Why LA's Bonaventure Hotel perseveres as an emblem of the city
In the cinematic city of Los Angeles, its skyline is surprisingly unremarkable in comparison to other cultural hubs like New York. Amid the lack of architectural icons, one iconic building of LA stands apart: the Westin Bonaventure Hotel.
Developed by world renowned architect John Portman, who gained international notoriety for revolutionizing commercial design with distinct "atrium hotels", the Bonaventure pushes Portman's futuristic approach even further than usual. The aesthetic embodies a retro '70s vision of the future with impressive spaciousness, massive forms, and circular geometric shapes that break down the interior into its own city-like structure.
At the time, Portman's signature features like spiraled balconies overlooking giant interiors, ultramodern glass elevators, waterfalls, indoor hanging gardens and revolving rooftop rooms juxtaposed the mundane hotel lobbies that were standard of the day ― even tho the overstated opulence garnered criticism from the architectural community, with industry legend Bill Marriott's immediate verdict as: "Don’t bother with it. Motels are the thing."
Despite that, the Bonaventure soon become renowned for it's uniquely self-contained world, becoming an identifying piece of LA culture that earned cameos and mentions in plenty of major feature films ― many of which Colin Marshall mentions in his 2015 video essay about the building, which u can watch below.
Arriving at a period in the 70s when business travel was becoming commonplace, the Bonaventure served as a striking juxtaposition to popular options like the Sheraton or the Hyatt ― but the novel concept was quickly made commonplace in the industry by a boom of replicated spaces also aspiring to be "a total space, a complete world, a kind of miniature city," as described by literary critic Frederic Jameson. Soon, atrium hotels mimicking Portman's work were all over the country ― the Bonaventure made its permanent mark on the industry within the span of a few years.
Apart from the architectural phenomenon that the hotel created, it's ultramodern, urban aesthetic cemented it as a lasting part of LA culture that's persevered for decades. Whether you're craning your neck in the lobby to take in the massive space, or enjoying 360º views of the city on the rooftop revolving cocktail lounge, Portman effectively created a space that offers an engaging experience every step of the way.
Pushing the boundaries of space is the standard at our interiors sesh.