When R. B. Young came to Los Angeles in 1878, he was only the third professional architect to set up practice in the city. Over the next 35 years, Young designed upwards of a hundred buildings downtown, most of which are long-since demolished. 722 South Broadway is one of the few to remain, although until recently in a harshly degraded condition.
722 was treated roughly over the years. By the 1960s the cornice and storefront were gone — along with the building’s southern two bays, demolished for a parking garage. The interiors (including elevator shafts) were stripped out in a 1990s seismic retrofit that filled the upper stories with diagonal bracing. At some point, the facade was painted over with a gluey mustard-colored substance.
In 2018, 722 was purchased by a European developer to convert to offices as their first US project. Between 2019 and 2022, the building was rehabilitated and returned as closely as practicable to its original appearance. In the process, a new building was essentially threaded through the existing fabric: intrusive seismic diagonals were replaced with moment framing craned in through the roof and totally new mechanical, plumbing, electrical, and life safety systems were installed throughout. Code-compliant elevators now run from basement to roof deck and the original egress stairs have been enclosed and regularized.
On Broadway, the glazed brick facade has been cleaned and patched and all windows have been restored. The lost cornice and molded brick courses below have been recreated from period photographs. Steel-framed storefronts based on historical precedent are being fabricated. The project scope also includes upper-floor build-outs for offices and art studios and a therapeutic spa in the basement; the latter required resolution of extremely complex systems and permitting issues.