It’s the complex that houses the home of the Oscars and sits next to one of the most iconic movie theaters in the world. And it’s also one of the ugliest buildings in all of Los Angeles. But Hollywood & Hollywood is about to see a major transformation—and an entirely new name.
A $100 million makeover promises to bring “a refreshed tenant mix and updated merchandising” to the shopping center along with an entirely new name: Ovation Hollywood. In addition, the plans call for converting about a third of the complex into office space (which currently only occupies 5% of Hollywood & Highland). In particular, the top two floors—now home to just a couple of restaurants, as well as Japan House—will make room for 150,000 square feet of office space.
Gaw Capital USA and DJM, which purchased Hollywood & Highland last year, expect renovations to begin later this year and conclude in late 2021. They’ve enlisted architecture firm Gensler to reimagine the space, and on Wednesday they released renderings and a design guide that addresses “outdated architecture, a prosaic project identity and a confusing layout.”
The most noticeable change: The elephant-topped columns are going away, and the Hollywood Sign-framing arch will receive a more sleek, Art Deco-inspired, spotlight-adorned aesthetic. The elephants and existing arch are both an homage to the massive Babylon set from D.W. Griffith’s 1916 silent film Intolerance, which was built a couple of miles east where the Vista currently sits. In place of that reference (which we’re pretty sure was lost on nearly every visitor to the mall), the inside of the reimagined arch will be lined with a mural from artist Geoff McFetridge with photographers on one side and people standing in applause on the other—which a design guide for the project tells us reflects “the true spirit of Hollywood.” Expressionless emoji here.
In that same central court, renderings for Ovation have removed the confusing mess of staircases and escalators, though it’s not entirely clear yet how the plans will make going from floor to floor easier. We’d actually say that, while certainly prettier, it’s not immediately apparent how most of these enhancements will solve the “confusing layout” part of the project: The Hollywood Boulevard entrance is still a canyon of stairs and escalators and the Highland Avenue side is still largely a solid wall save for the diagonal cut near the parking garage entrance. But like we said, it all certainly looks better: Aging, sandy-colored postmodern finishes will largely give way to brighter finishes and colorful murals, while the towering jumble of billboards on the southwest corner will be streamlined into a (still-towering) pair of large ones with an Ovation marquee that more closely matches the typography of historic signs in the area.
Elsewhere, the Awards Walk, the tunnel with plaques of all of the Best Picture Oscar winners that leads up to the Dolby Theatre, will see a renewed focus on food and drink as the Ovation Market. Plans call for open-air bars and outdoor dining that’ll spill into the narrow Orange Court alley behind the Chinese Theatre.
Hollywood & Highland first opened in 2001, when it either ushered in or happened to be in the right place at the right time as a renewed commercial interest in Hollywood. But over the past few years, as entertainment companies and new developments have flocked to the area, the mall’s dated design, pedestrian unfriendliness and retail dead zone have only stood out more. Here’s hoping Ovation can fix any of those problems.