Shedding light on the Maxfield Building

Preservation and adaptive reuse of the
1925 Maxfield Building in Downtown Los Angeles

Located at 819 Santee Street, the Maxfield Building was once a prominent high-rise in the early twentieth century Garment District. Today, it stands as an excellent example of a historic industrial daylight factory and is locally significant for its association with the development of Los Angeles's garment industry.

The Maxfield Building was designated a City of Los Angeles's Historic-Cultural Monument #1092 in August of 2015, and was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in September of 2017. We worked closely with property owner Urban Foresight, LLC and the project has been certified for Investment Tax Credits. Our favorite contributions to the Maxfield Building were advising on approaches to the rooftop sign, interior doors, and steel sash windows.

Rehabilitation of the historic rooftop sign. Historically, the Maxfield Building's rooftop sign was a multi-story open panel rooftop sign that read "Maxfield Building" and "819 Santee". Each letter electrified by dozens of individual incandescent light bulbs, the historic sign faced east toward the Southern Pacific Railway station where lone travelers and passersby exiting the train at Alameda Street could easily identify it. Decades of neglect later, however, the historic sign was left nearly crumbling, deteriorated, and unidentifiable. Today, the rooftop sign stands proud and visible, with individual LED light bulbs to match the historic sign's light bulbs. Now, the rehabilitated rooftop sign pays homage to its past.

Rehabilitation of historic interior wood doors. When working with the National Park Service, we were asked to recreate wood interior doors inspired in form by the historic doors simply because there were not enough original doors left to salvage. The result? All residential unit doors are compatible interpretations of originals, complete with transoms and side lights. Through trial-and-error, we selected a skilled painter to faux paint the metal door frames to match the new wood doors.

Rehabilitation of historic daylight windows. One of the most rewarding elements of this project was rehabilitation of the huge daylight windows. As a daylight factory, the industrial steel sash windows allowed as much light into the interior as possible. This natural light and ventilation maximized efficiency of the workers. While all the frames and sash are original, the glazing was replaced to reduce heat gain and provide a pleasant environment for today's residents.