Montalba Architects adds sunken garden to Edward Durrell Stone landmark

Local studio Montalba Architects has renovated American architect Edward Durrell Stone’s Perpetual Savings and Loan Bank building in Los Angeles and added a sunken garden in the building’s plaza.

Built in 1961, the eight-storey building now called 9720 Wilshire features a Romanesque facade of repeating arches and remains a landmark of the Beverly Hills neighbourhood.

A bronze circular sculpture in a plazaA bronze circular sculpture in a plaza
Montalba Architects has completed renovations to Edward Durrell Stone’s Perpetual Savings and Banks building

Montabla Architects’ renovation focused on the building’s plaza, lobby, and basement, with “light renovation” completed on remainder of the building’s interiors.

The brief included the replacement of the plaza’s central fountain, which once featured a gold-plated sculpture by artist Harry Bertoia before being decommissioned in 2010 due to leaks.

Edward Durrell Stone renovation in Los Angeles by Montalba ArchitectsEdward Durrell Stone renovation in Los Angeles by Montalba Architects
The renovation focused on the buildings plaza, basement and lobby

The studio replaced the circular footprint of the fountain with a light well that drops into the building’s basement.

At the light well’s opening, the studio placed a circular sculpture made of bronze prongs that arch backwards as a nod to the building’s facade and the curved jets of the previous fountain.

The entrance to a basement covered by a trellisThe entrance to a basement covered by a trellis
A light well and sunken garden replaced the circular fountain at the centre of the plaza

Lighting and evergreen landscaping encircle the sculpture to emphasize its form.

A sunken garden containing grasses and trees was placed at the bottom of the light well to promote passive cooling at street level and natural light in the basement.

Trees and plants enclosed in a glass cylinder in a basementTrees and plants enclosed in a glass cylinder in a basement
The light well brings light to the basement, which is now a gallery space

Circular glass panels, additional lighting, and a concrete bench surround the garden at the basement level.

The space was renovated to include five adjoining gallery spaces, a restroom and storage with concrete floors and painted walls.

A light well with a sunken garden of trees and grassesA light well with a sunken garden of trees and grasses
The light well features a sunken garden

A frameless glass enclosure and steel trellis was added to the staircase entrance of the basement, which is located at the far end of the plaza.

A pre-existing wall that runs alongside the entrance and perpendicular to the facade was outfitted with steel screens to encourage the growth of vines.

An oval reception desk made with fluted stoneAn oval reception desk made with fluted stone
The lobby of the building gives a nod to the building’s mid-century origins

The studio clad the renovated lobby in a palette of walnut panels and terrazzo flooring with bronze accents.

A simple oval desk of fluted stone sits at the centre, enclosed by a semi-circle extending from the lobby’s thin, rectangular footprint.

The Mart Interior GenslerThe Mart Interior Gensler Gensler unveils latest renovations to Chicago’s iconic Merchandise Mart

Simple materials and forms were chosen to represent the building’s mid-century origins.

The terrazzo hardscape of the plaza, which features a pattern of large white circles, was removed, restored and re-installed to its former state.

A lobby with an oval deskA lobby with an oval desk
Walnut wood, fluted stone, and bronze accents bring warmth to the interior

White concrete benches were newly installed and run the length of the plaza.

9720 Wilshire housed Perpetual Savings and Loan Bank upon its 1962 opening, but due to the institution’s closure in 1992, now hosts Manufacturers Bank.

The last renovation to the plaza took place in 1992. Stone, who died in 1978, was known for dozens of modernist structures in the US and internationally, including the US embassy in New Delhi, which is currently being renovated by Weiss Manfredi.

Other recent renovations to landmark buildings around the US include Gensler’s renovation of Chicago’s Merchandise Mart and a crystalline structure added to the Audubon Aquarium and Insectarium in New Orleans.

The photography is courtesy Montalba Architects.