NEW LIFE FOR HOTEL NORMANDIE
605 S. NORMANDIE AVENUE
WALKER & EISEN ARCHITECTS
2016 LANDMARK AWARD #111
By Laura Foti Cohen
The Hotel Normandie is having a moment. At age 90, she’s ready for her close-up, thanks to a lengthy and sensitive restoration by her current owner, architect Jingbo Lou. In addition to receiving the Windsor Square-Hancock Park Historical Society Landmark Award # 111, the Koreatown-based hotel is the recipient of a 2016 Los Angeles Conservancy Preservation Award. The hotel, at 605 S. Normandie Ave., is also Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Landmark #1013. Built in 1926 by Walker & Eisen, best known as architects of the Farmers Insurance Tower (Historical Society Landmark #98), the Oviatt Building, downtown’s United Artists Theatre (now the Ace Hotel), the Beverly Wilshire Hotel and many other treasures, Hotel Normandie features 103 rooms and has hosted many well-known names, including Under the Volcano author Malcolm Lowry, who wrote part of his famous work while staying there.
When current owner Lou purchased the building in 2011 it was structurally sound but rundown and just coming off a brief stint as a hotel for potheads. Lou rebuffed offers from large developers in favor of funding from smaller, preservation-minded entities.
During the rehab, decades of alterations were removed and missing windows replaced with replicas. The original roof cornice and tiled parapet, which had been removed in the 1950s, were re-created. The building’s Renaissance Revival roots are now again showing. Lou purchased iconic Cassell’s Hamburgers (est. 1948) in 2012, and moved it to the ground floor of the refreshed Normandie.