Inside Frank Gehry’s Overhaul of Garden of Allah, L.A.’s Most Infamous Corner

To the casual observer, the southwest corner of Sunset Boulevard and Crescent Heights Boulevard is just another West Hollywood strip mall. Among the occupants of the site: a McDonald’s, a dental clinic, and a bank with a curious zigzag of a roof. Nothing about this plot of land, 8150 Sunset Boulevard, indicates that it was once one of the city’s most notorious destinations—or that it is once again at the center of controversy.

For more than a century the story of Los Angeles itself has been reflected in this site, as it evolved from a fruit grove into Holly­wood’s most decadent hotel, and then into its current incarnation as paved-over paradise. And now fate has new plans for 8150 Sunset: Architect Frank Gehry is poised, with developer Townscape Partners, to build a 333,000-square-foot project there, with gleaming towers, abundant commercial space, and residential units.

The Gehry complex will be built on what was once one of the most glamorous destinations in town: the site of the former Garden of Allah hotel, the Chateau Marmont of its time. Practically every major star and writer in old Hollywood had history at the Garden, from Tallulah Bankhead and Errol Flynn to Garbo, Dietrich, Sinatra and Cary Crant. The most important writers of the 30s and 40s also called the Garden home – including F. Scott Fitzgerald, Robert Benchley, and Dorothy Parker, who placed chenille “welcome” mats on either side of her bed. Many relics of the Garden will likely be discovered again when the site is excavated.

Read more in this Town & Country story on one of the most notorious and glamorous land plots in Hollywood.

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