Century City is the perfect image of what Los Angeles once thought it would be. Developed as a node in L.A. City Planner Cal Hamilton's "Centers Concept," which envisioned Southern California as an endless carpet of activity focused around a few dense, urbane hubs of office buildings, shopping malls and multiunit housing, it has gone in 20 years from an empty movie studio back lot to the second largest downtown in Los Angeles.
In Century City, everything is perfect, from the steel-and-glass grids to the absence of cars cluttering the roadway. Office buildings, a shopping mall, hotels and condominiums each occupy their own zone, each secure and successful. At the heart of it all rise the twin triangles of the Century Plaza Towers, 44-story obelisks that mark the presence of this grand corporate precinct.
When you see the Century Plaza Towers from afar, they stand out in the rolling green landscape as immaculate white reference points, telling you exactly where Century City is located. The contrast with the carpet of homes and the hills rising in the background was even stronger until the recent completion of several skyscrapers that rival the twin towers in height. But none of the newer buildings can match the clean lines and massive bulk of the originals. Designed by Minoru Yamasaki in 1969, they are Los Angeles' answer to New York's World Trade Towers, twin skyscrapers that were designed by the same architect. Their metallic skin, abstract shape and even their duplication turns them into objects so strange and alien that you cannot immediately figure out how they fit into their surroundings, or even recognize them as office buildings. Instead, they become urban sculpture recomposing the world all around them.