By Staff | Downtown Alliance
Nearly two years after downtown’s iconic U.S. Bank Tower was sold for $430 million, new life is being breathed into the building through a street art installation on the top floor.
New York-based developer Silverstein Properties, the new owner of the tower, invited 15 L.A.-based street artists to paint in the unleased space on the top floor for a project called “Sky High: DTLA.”
The installation was unveiled on Wednesday, June 8, with guests ranging from downtown L.A. executives to members of the L.A. street art community, who sipped wine and admired the large murals on the 72nd floor, surrounded by floor-to-ceiling windows with a 360-view of L.A. below.
The mix of attendees exemplified the integration of street art in corporate spaces.
One of the featured artists, Sophie Mazzaro, said the project was encouraging for a form of art that isn’t widely respected.
“Most of us are street artists, so a lot of people still haven’t accepted this as an art form,” Mazzaro said. “But to see this on the 72nd floor of pretty much the tallest building — the [highest] mural — west of the Mississippi is an incredible honor, and I think it’s helping street art elevate to new levels.”
Silverstein’s Chief Marketing Officer Dara McQuillan said bringing art into office buildings may not be received as a “natural connection,” but the collaboration of art and business has worked for Silverstein.
“L.A. is an amazing city because of artists and musicians and filmmakers and creative people. That’s what makes this place great,” McQuillan said. “But they don’t always get the recognition they deserve, particularly street artists who work a little bit on the fringes of the city and on the fringes of society. So it’s nice for a company like ours to provide a space for these artists to do really amazing work. And we’re grateful to them for everything they’ve done.”
Man One, another Los Angeles street artist with a studio in Ontario, said Silverstein allowed the artists to create without limitations.
“A lot of times on these type of projects, the clients are very conservative or have a lot to say about your design,” Man One said. “But this was a dream project in the sense that it was really easy working with the crew. All our ideas they thought were great — I don’t know if they were, but they thought they were great — so they let us go ahead and rock it. It’s very freeing as an artist to be allowed to express your vision.”
Mazzaro echoed the sentiment.
“It was one of the most amazing projects of my life, and I was so honored to be part of this amazing crew of artists from all different backgrounds,” she said.
McQuillan said Silverstein bought the property in 2020 when no one was working in the office space, leaving the building ready for a fresh slate.
When the opportunity arose to bring artists into the building to do something creative and inspirational, Silverstein jumped at the idea, McQuillan said, as a way to give the people in and around the building something to enjoy.
“The other part of it was we love street art,” he added. “It’s part of our lives. Most people walk by it, they drive by it, they don’t really notice it. We wanted to elevate that art and bring it to the highest point in California, showcase their work, showcase the people and places they painted, just bring it to the next level. We have an empty floor at the top of the building, we thought this would be a cool thing to do up here. It’s as simple as that.”
McQuillan said he hopes they don’t lease the floor too soon, but when a new tenant moves into the 72nd floor they can choose to keep the art or move it. The artists painted on canvas, allowing the murals to be lifted off the walls and reassembled elsewhere in the building.
Members of the public will have the chance to see the installation on the second Friday of each month and can reserve a spot on Silverstein Properties’ website.
Elevating the building through art isn’t limited to the top floor. The 14 million-square-foot building at 633 W. Fifth St. is undergoing $60 million in renovations as Silverstein aims to modernize and redesign common spaces.
Improvements include cabana-style elements in the main entrance and lobby, a day-to-night juice and cocktail bar, a grab-and-go market, large communal tables and patio seating at ground-level entrances. The 54th floor is being transformed into The Vista, a lounge and meeting space with a fireplace, relaxed seating and a coworking lounge.
The company is working with international design firm Jeffrey Beers and architecture firm A + I on the upgrades, which are expected to be completed by the end of the year.
Silverstein also plans to utilize the space outside the U.S. Bank Tower and the adjacent gardens to host events for artists and musicians, McQuillan said.
The upgrades are meant to attract both traditional and creative office tenants. Current tenants include U.S. Bank, Lewis Brisbois Bisgaard & Smith, Thomson Reuters and Marsh USA, as well as Mizrahi Tefahot Bank, Skiermont Derby and Dechert.
“I like to think that Downtown L.A. is California’s capital of art and culture, and this is our small way of contributing to that,” McQuillan said.