Bullocks Wilshire

Wilshire Center

Once the center of fashionable Los Angeles in the 1920s and '30s, Bullock's Wilshire has been given a new lease on life as the library of the Southwestern University School of Law.

The Art Deco landmark looked destined for the wrecking ball in the early '90s, after years of economic decline, plus the riots of 1992, made the Mid-Wilshire building anything but fashionable. Federated bought the Bullock's chain in 1988 and closed the doors of the flagship store in 1993.

A combined effort by the Community Redevelopment Agency, the Los Angeles Conservancy, and Southwestern University saved the building in 1995.

Southwestern acquired the building, and with financial assistance from the CRA, enlisted Altoon + Porter Architects to transform it into a library. The result is a creative reuse that has been credited with serving as an anchor property to an area badly in need of revitalization.

"I've been struck by the fact that our use of the structure has not been that different from that of the department store," said Linda Whisman, director of the law library. "The open space and the high-placed decorations could easily accommodate the stacks for the books."

The library, which moved in January 1997, occupies about one third of the total 240,000 square feet of the building. The rest will be used for faculty offices and lecture space. A fifth-floor tearoom is scheduled to be finished by the end of the year. It will be used for social events.

Edvard Pettersson

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