Morton Moves On
His Hard Rock life behind him, Peter Morton forges ahead at a Los Angeles office by Callas Shortridge Architects
Edie Cohen -- Interior Design, 10/1/2007 12:00:00 AM
Cofounder of the Hard Rock Cafe, Peter Morton has run his real-estate and filmmaking operations from the same West Hollywood location for the past 20 years. The building first saw life as an auto-repair shop in the 1930's and eventually morphed into an art gallery. Morton's intervention? Little more than placing workstations for all in the 4,000-square-foot open space. When he knew it was time to step up, Barbara Callas stepped in—Callas Shortridge Architects is the successor firm to Franklin D. Israel Design Associates, which renovated Morton's Hollywood Hills house in the early 1990's.
With employees' competing iPods and chatter at the Peter Morton Company, acoustics were the catalyst for change. To a lesser degree, visual privacy was, too. Finally, there would be an enclosed conference room and, yes, a corner office. Callas crafted an exquisitely detailed setting and gently dropped it into the decades-old framework, its most distinctive feature being the original lamella ceiling with 14 diamond-shape skylights. "A precursor to prefab, the lamella allowed for the construction of large cost-effective spaces with clear spans," Callas explains. "Intersecting skewed arches are made from short members of laminated timber." While trusses were added in the 1990's, the interior remains completely free of support columns. Callas had an open playing field, a full 110 feet in length—and nothing in the architects' solution impinges. They tapped into their minimalist heritage, using mostly acoustical glass, stainless steel, white oak, sisal, terrazzo, and drywall.
To tame the skewed floor plate, Callas based her plan on a double-loaded corridor that narrows at the executive corner and splays open at the other end. In the center, the corridor separates reception and the conference room, two glass boxes with stainless-steel frames. Most of the space is open, mapped out primarily by 4-foot-high cabinetry. Callas notes the "hundreds of feet" of double-sided cabinets with integral pulls, not a piece of hardware in sight. The "clutter free" dictum goes for systems, too. Drywall canopies, floating over the conference room and selected offices, conceal wiring and mechanical equipment and house recessed lighting. Similarly tidied up, the entry procession makes the requisite statement. The facade has been resurfaced in gray cement plaster, and the entry is shaded by four towering palms and a folded concrete canopy.
For all Morton's proclaimed reticence, he's an A-lister on business, social, and art-collecting circuits. (The Ed Ruscha drawing Body English lends its name to the nightclub at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas.) In West Hollywood, the entire venue is a frame for art—spurring on acquisitions. The reception desk, a seamless block of concrete interrupted by a white-oak transaction counter, doubles as a gutsy anchor for a Paul McCarthy photograph on the wall behind; across the room hangs a John Baldessari triptych. An exhibition poster by photographer Inez van Lamsweerde appears in a restroom. Work by Lari Pittman and Glenn Ligon graces the conference room. A black-and-white figurative gouache by Tomoo Gokita appoints Morton's office.
With its pair of suede-covered Brno chairs by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe and rift-cut white-oak desk, cabinetry, and paneling not much more elaborate than similar items elsewhere, the corner office is low-key verging on anonymous. It's at the opposite end of the building, in the staff kitchen, that we get a sense of Morton the showman and restaurateur. Terrazzo flooring and a booth with cocoa-brown leather-covered banquettes hark back to a '50's diner, albeit seen through a Hollywood lens.
PROJECT TEAM: STEVEN SHORTRIDGE; TIM JORDAN; MAURICIO CARLESSI; CHRISTOPH PLATTNER; SABRINA SCHMIDT-WETEKAM. TABLE (CONFERENCE ROOM): IN-EX. CHAIRS (CONFERENCE ROOM), TASK CHAIRS (OFFICE, RECEPTION): HERMAN MILLER THROUGH JULES SELTZER ASSOCIATES. LOUNGE CHAIRS (OFFICE): KNOLL THROUGH JULES SELTZER ASSOCIATES. SINK (RESTROOM): HASTINGS TILE & BATH COLLECTION. SINK FITTINGS: DORNBRACHT. COUNTER, TABLE SURFACING (KITCHEN): DUPONT. BOOTH UPHOLSTERY: SPINNEYBECK. CARPET: COVERALL INDUSTRIES. PAINT: PRATT & LAMBERT. GLASSWORK: WESTLAKE GLASS. MILLWORK: SANTA FE FIXTURES. CONSULTANTS: F.I.R.E. (LIGHTING); PAMELA BURTON & COMPANY (LANDSCAPING); VENEKLASEN ASSOCIATES (ACOUSTICAL); MICRO CONNECTION (AUDIOVISUAL). ENGINEERS: STEPHEN PERLOF CONSULTING STRUCTURAL ENGINEER (STRUCTURAL); SULLIVAN PARTNERSHIP (MEP); N.A. COHEN GROUP (ELECTRICAL). GENERAL CONTRACTOR: WINTERS-SCHRAM ASSOCIATES.