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Capitol Records Building
Capitol Records Building
General information
Location 1750 Vine Street
Los Angeles, California USA
Status Complete
Constructed 1955–1956
Antenna or spire 150 ft (46 m)
Technical details
Floor count 13

The Capitol Records Building, also known as the Capitol Records Tower, is one of the most distinctive landmarks in Hollywood, Los Angeles, California. The 13-story earthquake resistant tower, designed by Welton Becket, was the world's first circular office building. The construction of the building was ordered by British company EMI soon after its 1955 acquisition of Capitol Records. It was completed in April 1956, just north of the intersection of Hollywood and Vine as the consolidated West Coast operations of Capitol Records. It currently houses the operations of Capitol Records. It also is home to the Capitol Studios well-known recording studios and echo chambers. It is located in the Hollywood Boulevard Commercial and Entertainment District, which is on the List of Registered Historic Places in Los Angeles.



An aerial view of the Capitol Records Building

Although not originally specifically designed as such,[1] the wide curved awnings over windows on each story and the tall spike emerging from the top of the building combine to give it the appearance of a stack of vinyl 45s on a turntable. The rectangular ground floor is a separate structure, joined to the tower after it was completed. It was built at a height of 13 stories, to conform to the 150-foot (46 m) height limit imposed on all Los Angeles construction. Earthquake height restrictions were later lifted in 1964. The 13th floor of the tower is known as the "Executive Level" and is designated as the "E" floor in the building's two elevators.

The blinking light atop the tower spells out the phrase "Hollywood" in Morse code, and has done so since the building's opening in 1956. This was an idea of Capitol's then president, Alan Livingston, who wanted to subtly advertise Capitol's status as the first record label with a base on the west coast. The switch activating the light was thrown by Lyla Morse, Samuel Morse's granddaughter.[1] In 1992 it was changed to read "Capitol 50" in honor of the label's fiftieth anniversary. It has since returned to spelling "Hollywood". A black and white graphic image of the building appeared on the albums of many Capitol recording artists, with the phrase, "From the Sound Capitol of the World".

Capitol Studios

The building houses the Capitol Studios, a recording facility which includes an echo chamber engineered by guitarist Les Paul. It would also be known as "The House That Nat Built" due to the vast amounts of records and merchandise Nat "King" Cole sold for the company. The first album recorded in the tower was Frank Sinatra Conducts Tone Poems of Color.

Current disposition

In September 2006, owner EMI announced that it had sold the tower and adjacent properties for $50 million to New York-based developer Argent Ventures.[2] The studio currently claims that it is threatened by noise from construction of a condominium and underground parking lot by building firm Second Street Ventures that would have heavy equipment working within 18 feet (5.5 m) of its renowned underground echo chambers, which are themselves over 20 feet (6.1 m) below ground level.[3] According to the CBS Evening News of July 31, 2008, the developers deny this, and Second Street Venture's co-owner David Jordon says they have arranged construction work outside the hours of Capitol's recording schedules, and that they have also arranged for soundproof materials to be placed between the underground parking lot and Capitol's underground echo chambers. A senior record producer in the recording industry, Al Schmitt, says it would be "heartbreaking" if it came to pass that the company could no longer use the echo chambers, which he says are 'the best in the business'.

See also


  1. ^ a b ""Exploring L.A. with Huell" (Howser) clip". Retrieved 2007-01-23.   from an 1988 interview of the then vice president of public relations and communications, Sue Satriano.
  2. ^ [1]
  3. ^ Pool, Bob - Plan to build next to Capitol Records studios sounds just awful to music biz. Los Angeles Times, June 17, 2008

Coordinates: 34°06′11″N 118°19′34″W / 34.103085°N 118.326189°W / 34.103085; -118.326189



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