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SB Tower Reveals a Head-Scratcher of a Ground Floor

By Eric Richardson
Published: Wednesday, November 18, 2009, at 03:21PM
600 S. Spring Eric Richardson [Flickr]

With scaffolding removed, the ground floor at SB Tower (600 S. Spring) is still a head-scratcher.

Scaffolding was removed from the ground floor of Barry Shy's SB Tower at 600 S. Spring today, revealing the new look of what was once the headquarters of California Bank.

I'll be honest, I don't get it.

That the 1960 structure's solid, marble pedestal has been chopped up and remodeled beyond recognition is well known. The building got a new paint job earlier this year, masking most of the incongruity there.

But this new ground floor...

Nine live-work units have been installed into the base of the building. Four open onto 6th street, four onto the alley behind the building and one opens onto Spring.

In an effort to cram as many units as possible into the structure, the units have been shoehorned beneath a second floor that's barely eight feet off the sidewalk. The colossal scale of the pedestal makes the doorways feel like they were perhaps designed for dwarfs.

Units along the 6th street side of the building are actually a step down from sidewalk level. Thankfully, they are fitted with drains in their entry area. While that may handle L.A.'s occasional rains, one can only imagine that street-level recessed doorways will find themselves the victim of other, less sanitary fluids.

Even one of the building's two original parking ramps has been scrapped to squeeze in another unit.

Two spaces listed as retail line Spring street. One, in the former bank lobby, contains a lofty ceiling. The second, closer to 6th, can only be described as a cellar.

It's certainly possible that creative users will find uses for these spaces, but standing outside the building today it's tough to see how.


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