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The CalEdison: The old marble lobby is a beautiful place to perch up

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The Art Deco masterpiece is open to the public, and it features fast Wi-Fi

The old Southern California Edison building sits right next to the US Bank Tower, the second tallest skyscraper in Los Angeles. It’s much stouter, but it’s not over-shadowed. An Art Deco tour de force, it’s framed in 3,500 tons of structural steel, its lower stories made of solid limestone.

Its marble lobby—where concrete coffered ceilings reach a height of 30 feet—is open to the public. If you’re a fan of architecture, history, or design, it’s now a fantastic place to perch up and work remotely.

Fast Wi-Fi, which can be accessed for free for one hour, was recently installed. Rios Clemente Hale Studios has touched up the common areas, adding a smattering of tables and seating, along with a coffee bar.

“We want to have the lobby to have a hospitality feel to create a community area,” said leasing broker Carle Pierose, of Industry Partners.

Upstairs, Rising Realty Partners, Lionstone Investments, and Hermes Investment management, the ownership group that bought the landmarked building in October 2015 for $92 million, property records show, are working on renovations, converting the floors into fashionable “creative” offices.

They also plan to rip off the greenhouse-like structures that were added to the upper-floor balconies in the 1980s, restoring the original streamlined facade.

The Edison Company moved out of the building in 1971.
Courtesy of Los Angeles Public Library Photo Collection

They have renamed the building, located at the corner of Fifth Street and Grand Avenue, The CalEdison. Before that, it was One Bunker Hill. Originally, the 14-story building, which opened in 1931, was the Southern California Edison Building and the headquarters for the Southern California Edison Company.

One of the first buildings in the western U.S. with a heating and cooling system powered by electricity, it was, as the New York Times put it, a “monument to energy.” It’s not just the infrastructure; the entry facade features allegorical figures representing light and energy, according to the Los Angeles Conservancy.

The conservancy says more than 17 different types of marble were used to make the lobby’s walls and floors, which are inlaid with a cubic Art Deco pattern that also appears on the facade. The mural by Hugo Ballin above the lobby elevators is titled "Power." (Ballin also painted murals at the Griffith Observatory, the Wilshire Boulevard Temple, and the Los Angeles Times building.)

The Times says the building gives you, “you a sense of what Los Angeles wanted to be, and what it has become, part of a huge megalopolis that still shows no signs of slowing down.”