Los Angeles, CA 90071
There’s no mistaking Bank of America Plaza’s most arresting visual component: Alexander Calder’s Four Arches, a sculpture standing 42 feet high and painted, coincidentally, in Bank of America’s blazing red-orange. But inside the vast lobby of the 55-story Los Angeles skyscraper, built in 1974 by Albert C. Martin & Associates, the severe granite walls were decidedly too colorless for the tastes of the building’s owner, Brookfield Properties.
So design director Megan Brothers retained Perkins + Will principal Clara Igonda, who pledged to retain the building’s modernist aesthetic but “soften and brighten it up.” New lighting, doors, and furniture were a start. Still, the project begged for bolder touches—which is when Igonda says she remembered the “warmth and unique texture” of textiles by Christopher Farr. A yearlong collaboration with his U.S. headquarters in L.A. ensued.
Beginning with watercolor studies, Farr says he envisioned “the tension created by asymmetrical placement of rectangles one inside another like Russian dolls.” (If that’s too abstract for you, think Josef Albers prints.) In the end, hand-spun wool and mohair were flat-woven into five custom tapestries in Turkey, on looms designed to accommodate supersize dimensions—the largest is more than 20 feet wide by 41 feet high. Stretched across aluminum frames specially engineered by Gilsanz.Murray.Steficek, the tapestries now span multiple levels on three of the lobby walls, bringing an invigorating dose of saturated color to the 3,500 people who visit the building each day.
by Mark McMenamin