The Iconic Eastern Columbia Building

An Inspiring Look at the Glamorous Color Palette of Los Angeles’ Own “Jewel of the West”


Maybe it’s the four-sided clock tower. The crown of four flying buttresses. The fluted piers and stepped-back design. The neon letters, boldly proclaiming Eastern. The sunburst motifs, the imposing stature, or the purely 1930s use of color. Whatever it is, we’re in love with the art deco brilliance of the Eastern Columbia Building. We find inspiration in its golden doorways, its zigzag details, and its majestic use of blue—so much so that we can’t help but want to bring the colors of this storied Los Angeles landmark into our design projects and homes.

About the Eastern Columbia Building

Before Hollywood was Hollywood, before the film industry moved out of downtown Los Angeles, and before New York’s Broadway had fully hit its live-theater stride, there was a different Broadway. It was one with movie palaces and atmospheric theaters, where the starlets on the silver screen could be spotted in the seats alongside middle-class tradesmen and Army officers.

If there’s a stalwart example of art deco perfection in Los Angeles, it’s Claud Beelman’s Eastern Columbia Building.

This was the Los Angeles Broadway Theater District—a stretch of six blocks between 3rd and 9th streets that at its peak, in 1931, boasted the highest concentration of theaters in the world. Fifteen thousand moviegoers filled the electricity-lit street and stood under marquees that advertised names such as Greta Garbo and Rudolph Valentino. And towering over it all in a beautiful display of turquoise and gold was a building that has since become known as the Art Deco Jewel of the West, the Eastern Columbia Building.

Eastern Columbia Building

If there’s any stalwart example of art deco perfection in Los Angeles, it’s Claud Beelman’s Eastern Columbia Building. At 13 stories, the tower was the highlight of the Los Angeles skyline for decades—and rightly so. Until the tower’s construction, the city had implemented a ban on structures over 150 feet. But the impressive clock tower, that now-representative symbol of old Los Angeles architecture, was given an exemption, and the building topped out at an impressive 264 feet—nearly twice the height of the next tallest building.

Today, the Eastern Columbia continues to stand in all its 1930s glory. In 2006, the building completed a two-year, $80 million renovation that preserved its historic beauty while turning the space into a residential complex of 147 condominiums. The effort won national acclaim and awards, and its efforts are best noticed in the building’s breathtaking vestibule. Reflecting everything it once was, the entrance boasts high ceilings, terra-cotta gold sunbursts, and lavish uses of turquoise.

Truly a sight to see, the Eastern Columbia continues to inspire architects and designers all over L.A.—and the world—and its star shows no sign of dimming.

The Colors of the Eastern Columbia Building

Using Pratt & Lambert’s curated collection of designer colors, we’ve found modern-day colors inspired by the opulent tones of the Eastern Columbia. In looking at everything from its turquoise terra-cotta tiles and dark tonal trim to its gilded lobby and white-neon clock-tower sign, we’ve pulled six luxurious colors inspired by the lush blues and extravagant golds of the Eastern Columbia.

We’re in love with the art deco brilliance of the Eastern Columbia Building, and we find inspiration in its golden doorways, its zigzag details, and its majestic use of blue.

At the core of the Eastern Columbia palette is Azure 22-5, a muted turquoise that quietly ushers in serenity without forgoing the elaborate luxury of the ’20s. Paired with a series of tonal shades—including Chevril 22-30, a creamy tonal light turquoise; Cumulus 24-2, a near-white blue; and Whirlpool Blue 22-16, a compelling dark turquoise—the Eastern Columbia’s family of blue-green shades easily fits any modern or historic space.

Eastern Columbia Building
Photo by: Ersatz Historian

But it’s the addition of Deep Charcoal 25-18, a dramatic black, and Golden Tan 10-10, the iconic 1920s Gatsbyesque gold, that evoke the days of flappers and old money, of Wall Street and the beginning of the golden age of cinema, of bobbed hair and pinstripe suits.

These are the colors of the Eastern Columbia in all its art deco glory. Colors of life and luxury and the good old days of eccentricity and lavish living. Colors that reflect this most photographed landmark of old Los Angeles.