Los Angeles’ new restored movie theatre

Designed in 1927 by prolific motion picture theater designer, S Charles Lee, Tower Theatre was the first movie theater in Los Angeles built to show talking movies. Photo by César Rubio

Apple Tower Theatre, Apple’s newest store in the heart of downtown Los Angeles, has opened to visitors. The design seeks to reinvigorate one of LA’s most historic movie theaters by giving the building a new purpose.

Designed in 1927 by prolific motion picture theater designer, S Charles Lee, Tower Theatre was the first movie theater in Los Angeles built to show talking movies. The design restores the distinctive clock tower and exterior terracotta facades, enhances historic interiors, and improves the marquees and the Broadway Street elevation, while upgrading accessibility to ensure the building will survive and serve the community in the future.

The design looks to create an active presence on Broadway. Visitors enter a lobby at street level. A restored grand staircase takes visitors to the upper levels, while the lobby opens to the volume of the main theatre hall at ground level, which has been transformed into a display area. The historic plaster detailing on the walls and ceiling, dating back to the 1920s, has been carefully restored. The central dome of the theater’s ceiling has been reinterpreted with a fresco of the sunshine of the southern Californian sky.

Referencing the golden era of talkies and films, the new Forum reinstates the screen under the proscenium arch. A set of stairs and elevators also bring visitors to the balcony level, which hosts seats in the house to view the Forum. The leather theater-style seats with electrical and data points are the perfect spot for visitors to relax while they wait for their appointments. At the top of the balcony is the Genius Level. Located just beneath the theater’s projectionist windows, it offers a complete snapshot of the theater.

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