Parker Center, the Los Angeles Police Department’s former headquarters, would be designated a historic and cultural landmark under a proposal going before a City Council committee Tuesday.
In January, the city’s Cultural Heritage Commission recommended that the eight-story tower and surrounding landscaping be given historic-cultural status, which could delay plans to demolish the building. The city Bureau of Engineering has put forth a $475 million proposal to demolish the building and replace it with a bigger office tower.
The City Council’s Planning and Land Use Management Committee will take up the historic-cultural status application on Tuesday. The full City Council has until May 13 to decide if it will grant the status, and if it doesn’t act by then, the nomination of the building would fail.
Parker Center was home to the LAPD’s administrative staff from 1955 to the fall of 2009, when the department moved into a larger, glass-paned complex.
The city’s historic-cultural status would not give complete protection against razing the building, but city officials would be given the opportunity to step in to stop demolition.
Cultural Heritage commissioners and conservationists say the building warrants landmark status because of its role in the history of race relations, the modernization of the policing profession and its architectural design by Welton Becket, who also designed the Capitol Records building, Music Center and Cinerama Dome.
Commissioner Barry Milofsky said in January that the building was frequently shown in the television series “Dragnet,” which dramatized actual LAPD cases, and is an “an icon of both of the city and icon of the entertainment industry, and of incredible significance in terms of the social history of the city.”
Commissioner Jeremy Irvine said the LAPD “had a reputation of being extremely corrupt, and there was a lack of transparency” before moving into Parker Center.
The building was constructed at a time when police facilities were being centralized around the country and aided the LAPD in “solving crimes in an efficient, technical manner,” Irvine said.
The historic status is also supported by the Los Angeles Conservancy, a nonprofit historical preservation group, with its preservation coordinator, Laura Dominguez, saying the building has been on the group’s “radar as an important modern resource.”
Parker Center is associated “with the rise of modern policing … the history of urban renewal and also race relations in the city,” which “provides us with an important opportunity to understand some of these patterns and their relevance today,” Dominguez said.
The building, originally known as the Police Facilities Building, was named in 1969 after former Chief William H. Parker, who served from 1950 until his death in 1966 from a heart attack.
Parker garnered national recognition for his efforts to make the police department more efficient and disciplined, and he was responsible for starting the Department of Internal Affairs.
Allegations of racial discrimination by police also marked Parker’s tenure, which included the 1965 Watts Riots, with officers being accused of harassment and abuse against the black and Latino communities.
— City News Service