With TBWA Chiat/Day Inc. moving out of the Binoculars Building, and "hip" agencies like BBDO West and Ground Zero inhabiting converted warehouses or wild frat-house-inspired work spaces, the question arises: Which ad agency has the coolest office in Los Angeles?

It may just be the comparatively buttoned-down Dailey & Associates home of such edgy, long-haired accounts as Callaway Golf, Countrywide Home Loans and Alpo pet chow.

When Dailey abandoned its straightlaced offices in the decaying Mid-Wilshire district in September, it pulled out all the stops to come up with a creative, futuristic workplace. The result is two floors in the Pacific Design Center's Green Whale building that are so screamingly arty one expects to meet Tim Burton or the ghost of Andy Warhol crouching behind the twisted metal dying-horse sculpture in the concrete-floored lobby.

The Pacific Design Center two years ago began casting around for a new kind of tenant, after Dailey Chairman and Chief Executive Cliff Einstein suggested that building managers broaden their definition of "design" to include ad agencies, Hollywood production companies and other "creative" tenants.

Einstein had coveted a space of his own in the center, which he considers one of L.A.'s most distinctive pieces of architecture. His interest coincided with hard times for the Blue and Green Whales, which were plagued by a downturn in the furniture and interior design business in the mid-'90s.

The result was a fortuitous arrangement for both the center and Dailey, which is still the only large non-design tenant at the whales although Pacific Design Center officials say they are negotiating with a number of other such creative companies.

The agency is housed in a wing of the center that once held furniture showrooms. Dailey hired interior designer Christine Chatterton, who knocked out walls, added ceiling panels, created a maze of office fixtures and walls that Dailey employees say they still sometimes get lost in, and designed a color scheme heavy on black and white and blond wood with an occasional splash of purple or light green on a sweeping curve of wall.

The lobby is a wide corridor surounded by glass, with a bare concrete floor. Unique features, originally part of the showrooms, abound; one side of the creative department offices is lined with small circular meeting rooms like glass-walled peas in a pod; waving art panels hang from the ceiling; a main conference room fronts the lobby that looks like Darth Vader's Imperial War Room, complete with electric shades that slowly descend to cover a wall of windows.


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