Castle Argyle Apartments, Hollywood, California: Photo Tour
Weldon Brewster Photography
Castle Argyle Apartments: Featuring a landmark neon sign visible from the busy Hollywood Freeway, Castle Argyle was opened in 1928 as a luxury hotel/ apartment building. The revitalization project included commissioning neon artist Paul Greenstein to restore the iconic signs atop the building and on the entryway arch to their original colors and functionality.
Castle Argyle Apartments: Public art helped sway community support for the construction, which required noisy structural upgrades. A street-facing mosaic made from salvaged ceramic tile by Puerto Rican artist Roberto Biaggi celebrates the neighborhood’s history. Castle Argyle itself is included in the mural. Hollywood’s movie legacy, Art Deco style, and the immediate neighborhood’s diverse population are also depicted.
Castle Argyle Apartments: A second Biaggi mural, in the lobby, celebrates the Art Deco style that was en vogue when the building opened in 1928―with those numerals abstractly embedded in the tile mosaic.
Castle Argyle Apartments: The project team designed the seismic upgrades to integrate seamlessly with the building’s historic character. The required 50-foot-tall exterior reinforcements were extended with foam to blend into the building’s 65-foot walls. Finished with stucco per the original exterior, the historic façade’s personality was preserved over the building’s earthquake-stabilization modifications.
Castle Argyle Apartments: Community areas such as the “living room” further demonstrate how 1920s’ influences were melded with modern amenities such as LED lighting and a diamond wall pattern behind a flatscreen TV. During demolition, the project team discovered the first floor’s previously covered coffered ceiling. It was preserved/restored to further frame the Hollywood Regency interior design.
Castle Argyle Apartments: Fixtures and complementary furnishings carry through to the first-floor library. Brass and gold are two prominent Art Deco colors that appear frequently in Castle Argyle’s common areas.
Castle Argyle Apartments: The first-floor courtyard was designed to encourage residents to socialize and exercise. Inviting and sustainable, the courtyard was updated primarily via hardscape, accented with strategic plantings chosen for their low water consumption.
Castle Argyle Apartments: Each tenant floor is identified by a framed portrait of a different Hollywood icon, including Sidney Poitier and Audrey Hepburn. This detail is both fitting of the interior theme and is used as functional wayfinding for the building’s residents.
Castle Argyle Apartments, Hollywood, California
Castle Argyle Apartments in Hollywood, Calif., opened in 1928 as a luxury residence-hotel, hosting such Hollywood luminaries as Cecil B. DeMille, Clark Gable, and Howard Hughes.
The building fell into disrepair during the Great Depression. By the 1990s, the building degenerated into a drug den. Formerly large, opulent apartments were broken up into smaller units for low-income tenants, and Castle Argyle became affordable housing for seniors in the mid-1990s.
Owners HumanGood Affordable Housing (Duarte, Calif.) and Beacon Development Group (Pleasanton, Calif.) purchased the property in 2020 and renovated the historic building for its low-income senior residents.
Specifically, the building underwent a $77-million renovation to code-compliance/amenity update, designed by architecture and design firm Relativity Architects (Los Angeles), modernized the building during COVID-19, which required relocating the residents in phases around the construction.
Meeting seismic code compliance
Completed in 2022, the renovation project included extensive updates. Specifically, the seismic retrofitting involved coring thousands of holes into the existing concrete structure to tie in new sheer walls with structural steel dowels.
Mechanical upgrades included two new elevators.
Sustainability was addressed with low-flow plumbing fixtures, LED lighting, Energy Star appliances, the addition of solar panels, and new hardscape punctuated by drought-tolerant plants to minimize water consumption.
New common-area amenities include big-screen TVs and an onsite nurse’s room. Accessibility upgrades mandated by the stricter-than-ADA Los Angeles code included a new ramp, which is integrated with a street-barrier wall and planter.
The first-floor community spaces were made more welcoming with new windows and glazed accessibility doors, improving views to the street. The period-inspired first-floor interior design revived the Hollywood Regency style popular in Golden Age movie stars’ homes: notably mirrors, bold colors, and metallic and glass accents. Further, a new landscaped courtyard encourages resident to socialize and also provides outdoor exercise space.
The library, kitchen, dining area, and living room complete the common spaces. Design details include 1920s-inspired light fixtures, sunburst wall mirrors, and recurring brass accents. During Castle Argyle’s down-to-the-framing demolition, the original coffered ceilings throughout the first floor were uncovered. Relativity Architects opted to retain and restore these gridded ceilings to their original grandeur. All resident units were upgraded with new kitchens, baths, appliances, and flooring.
The building’s 96 units are distributed as 42 studios and 54 one bedrooms.
An art program helped galvanize community support for the large construction project. A 15-by-15-foot mosaic on an exterior wall celebrates Hollywood’s history and the neighborhood’s ethnically diverse population. Residents enjoy a second, Art Deco-inspired mosaic in the lobby.
Castle Argyle Apartments project details
Location: Hollywood, Calif.
Completion date: November 2022
Owner: HumanGood Affordable Housing
Total building area: 68,230 sq. ft.
Total construction cost: $77.8 million (cost of land and building)
Cost/sq. ft.: $1,140 total ($542 building only)
Architect: Relativity Architects
Interior designer: Relativity Architects
General contractor: Walton Construction
Engineer: Labib Funk & Associates
Landscape architect: Saldana Landscape
Mural Artist: Roberto Biaggi/RoBi Design + Build
Neon Sign Restorer: Paul Greenstein