The Wells Fargo Center, with its granite walls soaring more than 50 stories into the air, has long been considered one of the best office addresses in downtown Los Angeles.
But its owners recently came to an unpleasant realization: Although the two-skyscraper complex atop Bunker Hill was still home to blue-chip accounting, law and financial firms, it’s hard-edged corporate vibe was just too 1980s for modern tastes.
The ground level felt isolated from the streets behind intimidating steps — redolent of cuff links and shoulder pads in an era grown comfortable with T-shirts and jeans.
Lingering with a book or sack lunch might be tolerated, it seemed to say, but not encouraged.
Contrast that with newer campus-style offices on the city’s Westside, where workers can relax around fire pits or work in a garden.
“The environment was dated,” said Bert Dezzutti of landlord Brookfield Office Properties, which acquired the center just five years ago as part of a portfolio deal estimated to be worth as much as $3 billion.
But a lot has changed in the interim, including in downtown’s Historic Core and Arts District, where a new crop of renovated buildings offers tenants a lively street scene outside.
Brookfield Properties decided it needed to make the center’s formal three-story atrium softer and more open to the elements, a place where people would want to kick back, meet friends or perhaps work on a laptop.
The New York-based landlord has embarked on a $60-million makeover of the atrium that will create an indoor-outdoor environment dubbed Halo, with restaurants, bars and coffee shops meant to lure tenants of the entire office district out of their glass towers.