By Luke Netzley | Los Angeles Downtown News
City officials, community leaders and representatives from real estate development and management firm Silverstein Properties recently came together to celebrate the grand opening of the U.S. Bank Tower’s new lobby and amenity spaces, built as part of a $60 million capital improvement program at the site. The renovation, which took two years to complete, comes at a time when the nature of work in Los Angeles has been called into question as the city’s office market remains in flux.
“The future of work is going to look different, and this is what it looks like,” said Suzanne Holley, president and CEO of the Downtown Center Business Improvement District. “We know in the future work is not where employees have to be but where they want to be. And this is where they’re going to want to be.”
Holley, who worked for previous U.S. Bank Tower owners MPG Office Trust, recalled her excitement when Silverstein Properties took ownership of the building and expressed their dreams for the site’s future. As someone who “knows what this takes,” Holley referred to the $60 million makeover as “nothing short of miraculous.”
The renovation was born to meet the evolving needs of Downtown’s office-based workforce and includes upgrades across 35,000 square feet of common spaces, a redesigned lobby, new contactless elevators, seating and collaboration areas, as well as a day-to-night juice and cocktail bar and grab-and-go market.
There is also a new “vista” on the 54th floor boasting panoramic views of the LA skyline with event, meeting, presentation and lounge spaces open to the building’s tenants.
“I can tell you that, having been here for seven years now, this building was very formal. … Today, it’s been transformed,” said Rudy Medina, senior vice president at U.S. Bank. “It’s more inviting; it’s much more comfortable. And I was observing today when I came back here from lunch that the facility was packed. There was a bunch of people that were here eating lunch, just talking and gathering. And so it’s become that kind of a place for us now. It’s a gathering place.”
In 2022, Silverstein Properties invited 25 street and visual artists to paint murals on the U.S. Bank Tower’s top floor, making them the highest murals in California.
“Our company has always believed that creative people are the lifeblood of a healthy community,” Silverstein Properties CEO Marty Burger said. “They painted the walls, the floors, the elevators and even the windows. In many cases, they painted subjects and people from this neighborhood, elevating them to the highest point in the city.”
The group included LA street art legend Man One, who dedicated his mural to the late artist and activist Noni Olabisi and donated the piece to the AltaMed Foundation, which works to increase access to health care. He also curated a series of eight murals by local artists outside the building’s Fifth Street entrance.
“I want to really honor Noni … so the mural you see there is my homage,” Man One said. “What’s amazing is that, although we painted on the 72nd floor, the paintings weren’t done directly on the wall. They were done on canvas that was attached to the wall so that if the floor got leased out … they could move the artwork.
“The whole idea was to bring the people from LA up to the 72nd floor, so we accomplished that. But now I wanted this mural to live so that the people of LA could see it, and so I wanted to donate it to some kind of institution or foundation. … We’ve teamed up with the AltaMed Foundation, and this piece is going to be part of their collection. They have one of the largest Chicano art collections pretty much in all the world, and they’re opening up a new museum. So this mural is going to be seen by all the people of LA thanks to them and through their foundation.”
In addition to local artists, Silverstein Properties also recently welcomed five new lease signings by tenants like engineering consultant Walter P. Moore, which signed a 10-year, 9,364-square-foot lease; investment bank Lincoln International, which signed a 10-year, 27,117-square-foot lease expansion; financial services group Rothschild & Co, which signed a 8,544-square-foot lease; and injury law firm Morgan & Morgan, which signed a 7,612-square-foot lease.
“(The renovation) has enhanced the city of LA as we look at these facilities and prove what we have here,” said Robert Lewis, chairman and founding partner at Lewis Brisbois. “We’re very proud to be a tenant. We occupy about 300,000 feet. We have about 900 employees here, so they’re very happy to be here to see the renovation that’s taken place. … It’s a joy to be here.”
From a Silverstein Properties perspective, Burger explained that the idea behind the makeover was to reimagine the role of an office building as the center of a community, particularly in a time when much of the city is still recovering from the tolls of the pandemic.
“A lot of naysayers wrote off this office building all together, along with the Downtown neighborhood,” Burger said. “We heard the same thing after 9/11 in New York City. The naysayers said that Downtown Manhattan was finished as a business district. … We recognized the wonderful history and great potential of the Downtown neighborhood. We designed and built some of the most advanced and sustainable buildings in the country, and then we welcomed into them some of the most successful companies in the world. We also partnered with our local elected officials, community leaders, civic and business groups … to create a better version of Downtown Manhattan, one where people live, work, shop, eat, visit and entertain.
“I see the same thing happening here in Downtown LA. When I look around, I see some of the most incredible, diverse, resilient and creative people in the country. Not only is it important for us to be good neighbors, we want to work with this community to elevate Downtown to be the best place in the city to work, live and visit.”