Although not as famous around the world as the nearby Sunset Strip, the Pacific Design Center is the most dominant icon of West Hollywood. Three giant geometric buildings in primary colors loom over the intersection of San Vicente and Melrose at the crux of the West Hollywood Design District. The 14 acre campus, which is a showcase for the interior design trades, was designed by architect Cesar Pelli. It was constructed in multiple phases over four decades. It's a favorite landmark for photographers and architecture buffs.
Pacific Design Center - Not Just for Design Professionals
The blue building, Center Blue, fondly referred to by locals as the "blue whale," opened in 1975 with 750,000 square feet of showrooms and offices. "Blue" is the first impression you'll get driving on Melrose or traveling north on San Vicente. The shiny blue-paneled exterior is impressive by day. The spiral tower that houses the infinity staircase lights up in alternating primary colors at night. Since Blue is the oldest of the three buildings, it is also the main entrance and the core of the center. Most of the commercial interior showrooms are in Center Blue.
Center Green opened in 1988, adding 450,000 square feet, almost half of which is office space for creative businesses. Green is north of Blue on San Vicente. The buildings are connected over a shared lobby which, in addition to the information desk, displays several major pieces of public art, including a set of giant keys and a ca.-1912 hang glider, modeled after an 1896 design by Wright-brother mentor Octave Chanute suspended from the ceiling of the atrium.
Center Red opened in 2012, adding another 400,000 square feet of office space in two towers over 7 levels of parking. Red has an impressive peak jutting to the east that can only be perceived from the north, looking south at the complex.
The three dominant buildings frame a courtyard to the west, which offers tiered benches above a dancing fountain, as well as another smaller building housing a satellite of the Museum of Contemporary Art. Wolfgang Puck's red | seven restaurant is also off the courtyard on the ground floor of Center Blue. He has an additional fully equipped kitchen at Spectra, an event space on the 3rd floor. The round Design Cafe snack bar sits in front of Blue on Melrose.
The Pacific Design Center's 130+ showrooms showcase over 2200 interior product lines from furniture to fabrics to architectural features in a combined space of 1.2 million square feet.
Most of the second level of the Pacific Design Center is devoted to a project called Design Loves Art. Spaces are provided to local galleries and artists for temporary exhibits and public performances.
Things to Do at the Pacific Design Center
The primary function of the Pacific Design Center is as a wholesale space for interior designers and others in the industry. However, even if you're not in the design trade, there are interesting things to do at the Pacific Design Center? The following pages will give you some ideas.
First off, shop! Yes, only industry professionals can make purchases from the businesses at the Pacific Design Center, but if you find something you must have in your home, there are designers at the PDC that can facilitate the purchase for you. Ask about this service at the information desk in the lobby.
MOCA at the Pacific Design Center
Visit the Satellite of the Museum of Contemporary Art on the Plaza at the Pacific Design Center facing San Vicente to see the latest exhibits by contemporary artists from the 1940s to today. MOCA at the Pacific Design Center is always free.
MOCA at Pacific Design Center
Pacific Design Plaza
Tuesday - Friday: 11 am - 5 pm
Saturday - Sunday: 11 am - 6 pm
Phone: (213) 626-6222
There are periodically public art and design exhibits in the other galleries. You can check the events schedule to see what's running.
Rainbows at Pacific Design Center Plaza
Watch the rainbows in the courtyard fountain in the late afternoon.
As the sun makes it's way down the western sky, it hits the dancing water fountain making a play of rainbows from a bunch of different angles. It's a pleasant spot to take a shopping break and enjoy an afternoon coffee or picnic.
Taking Photos of the Pacific Design Center
Photography is not permitted inside the Pacific Design Center buildings, and you may get shooed away from the front entrance, but there are so many cool compositions to find of the exterior that it's easy to spend hours shooting the Pacific Design Center both day and night.
Pacific Design Center from West Hollywood Library
Visit the West Hollywood Library across San Vicente Blvd to check out the art installations, like the hard-wood ceiling installation, and take in the view of the Pacific Design Center from the 2nd floor east windows.
Public Art at the Pacific Design Center
There are a variety of public art installations inside and outside of the Pacific Design Center:
, 2002. Selbert Perkins Design is also responsible for the giant umbrella-like structure on Melrose and all the signage around the PDC.
The Tower at the Pacific Design Center Lights Up at Night
At night, the circular tower that houses the infinity staircase in the Blue Building lights up in alternating primary colors.