Thomas Landau

The Landau Partnership Inc.

Age: Declined to state

Specialty: Architect

Recent Deals: Designed Disney’s Skunkworks Studio, Santa Monica Studios (to break ground in January), and 600,000 square foot Glendale Plaza (to break ground in early fall).

Thomas Landau decided what he wanted to do with his life in a bar in Berlin. It was there, while serving in the military in Germany, that Landau met the famous Finnish architect Alvar Aalto, who convinced him to build things. Upon his return to the U.S., he enrolled at UCLA to do just that.

Landau has spent the last 29 years fulfilling his dream, designing structures ranging from a baseball stadium in Banning to what will be the massive Glendale Plaza, a 600,000 square foot office building by Pac-Ten Partners.

Landau does this work as president and owner of The Landau Partnership. He employs about 10 architects at his Santa Monica office, a number that often surprises people given the numerous projects the office handles. “People think we’re a lot bigger,” said Landau.

The relatively small office has been responsible for designing structures throughout California and in other western states. Landau’s recent projects include Walt Disney Co.’s Skunkworks Studio, which was the renovation of a 200,000 square foot building that was originally built to house Lockheed Corp.’s aerospace engineers. The building is formally called the Feature Animation Northside studio. Landau is now working on the second building of what will be a 15-acre campus for Disney.

Landau’s other recent projects include the $100 million Santa Monica Studios to be built on Olympic Boulevard (designed, Landau said, to look like a “university campus in Italy”); the Beachhouse at Hermosa Beach, a 96-room hotel on the beach; and a sports and entertainment center with a double ice rink, sports complex and theaters in Redlands.

The reason for his popularity among developers is the ability to balance his desires with the needs of the client, says Jeff Worthe with M. David Paul Development, the developers of the Skunkworks Studio.

“Many architects get hung up when the owners say they don’t want a certain design. Tommy listens to what the client needs and can translate it into a finished product,” he said. Worthe noted that Landau is involved in a majority of the office/studio projects in the L.A. area.

Given all these projects, is Landau able to choose a favorite?

“Yes,” said Landau. “My favorite design is the Pac-Ten building (Glendale Plaza). It’s like a corporate tower but also has active entertainment bungalows. The top five floors look like an abstraction of studio bungalows out of the ’20s.”

Lisa Steen Proctor

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