Apple and Foster + Partners restore 1920s glamor to LA movie theater

Designed by prolific American architect S. Charles Lee and originally opening back in 1927, the Tower Theatre has seen a lot of changes over the years. It was Los Angeles’ first movie theater capable of showing “talkies” and, thanks to its distinctive Baroque Revival styling, has even served as a filming location for several Hollywood movies. Now, following a collaboration between Apple and Foster + Partners, it has begun a new chapter as an Apple Store.

Apple Tower Theatre is located in Downtown LA. While it would be an exaggeration to say the building was a ruin, it had only been sporadically used since closing its doors back in 1988 and required a lot of effort to restore it to its former glory. Interestingly, Foster + Partners credits Apple’s own design team as having significant input and the two worked with experts to restore the building’s distinctive clock tower, as well as its terracotta facade.

The interior was given more than a lick of paint, too. Visitors enter into a plush lobby with a newly restored grand staircase (two new elevators are also installed for accessibility). The main theater hall is located on ground level and now hosts Apple’s product displays.

The intricate 1920s-era plaster detailing on the walls and ceiling has been restored by hand and the central dome of the ceiling has been repainted with a fresco of the southern California sky. Comfy theater-style seats now provide a place for customers to wait.

Apple Tower Theatre's central ceiling dome has been reinterpreted with a new fresco of the southern California sky
Apple Tower Theatre’s central ceiling dome has been reinterpreted with a new fresco of the southern California sky


Credit where it’s due, the team has done a superb job restoring the building’s splendor and it’s great to see it given a new life, even if it would have been nice for it to remain a movie theater.

“I believe that people love being with people,” says Stefan Behling, Head of Studio, Foster + Partners. “This is the basis for urbanity all around the world. Apple Tower Theatre will be a new beacon of optimism and resilience for the city and a vote of confidence in Downtown LA. The design brings back the romance and excitement of the birth of cinema, recreating the idea of the ‘place to be.’ The exquisite detailing of the interior has been painstakingly restored. From today, Apple Tower Theatre will once again be alive with activity and celebrations that will return the vitality of urban life to Downtown LA.”

The project is just the latest product of a long and fruitful partnership between Apple and Foster + Partners, including another similar recent renovation work Apple Via Del Corso in Rome.

Sources: Foster + Partners, Apple

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