Howard Building Corporation our-work

Warner Music Group

Los Angeles
Warner Music Group
Project Team

Gardiner & Theobald, Shorenstein Properties

300,000 Square Feet

Project Description

Warner Music Group (WMG) relocated to Downtown Los Angeles from their deeply worn stomping grounds in Burbank with two clear motives: to comfortably house and encourage collaboration among their West Coast division and to position themselves at the forefront of a larger cultural revolution in the Arts District. WMG’s seven subdivisions (Warner Bros. Records, Warner/Chappell, Atlantic, ADA, WEA, Elektra, and Rhino) reside within the 300,000 square foot floorplan, and each is aesthetically distinguishable from the next. Having these subdivisions under one roof effectively streamlines operations and, possibly more importantly, has resulted in a noticeable uptick in morale since moving into the new space. Maintaining the open layout of the original building while upholding unified sightlines facilitates cross-pollination of creativity. WMG-backed artists are encouraged to utilize the 250-person capacity performance area, alongside several lounges and recording studios, promising endless possibilities for collaboration. This is further reinforced by inspirational rooftop views of Los Angeles, a commissary, and other gathering areas. While engaging in the current cultural conversation, the new headquarters also honors WMG’s massive influence on the music industry. The Warner Bros. Records floor features album covers, spanning everything from Aretha Franklin to Bad Religion. Wall-to-ceiling graphics immerse the employees in historic imagery throughout the workday and, in doing so, they are reminded that they are a part of something larger. This larger cultural conversation comes in the form of commissioned wall murals from street artists, such as Shephard Fairey and Johnny Rodriguez. In addition to joining the cultural movement of Los Angeles, the record company’s massive relocation has helped spur a flourish of activity at the Arts District, and companies such as Soylent, Honey, and WeWork have recently made the move as well.

In addition to being a cultural paradigm, this project is also a model example of how adaptive reuse projects are a sustainable solution to the question of finite space in Los Angeles. Due to these restoration efforts, the building itself was granted LEED Gold Certification and won a Sustainable Innovation Award by the U.S. Green Building Council. Great care was taken to preserve the industrial moxie from the space’s former glory as a Ford Factory Model T factory and showroom, and many of the original components were preserved. Creative solutions were applied to salvage many of these materials, such as the window frames, skylights, and concrete. The previously operational water tank on the roof now displays the WMG logo. Pre-existing clerestories were kept intact, allowing ample natural light to flood throughout the building which, in turn, optimizes WMG employees’ visual, mental, and biological health while boosting productivity and mood. Additionally, keeping the large floorplan and tall ceilings intact helps to facilitate the feeling of movement and openness while promoting a sense of unity. In a space intended to accommodate up to 800 employees, all open offices are equipped with height-adjustable desks and other ergonomic solutions, placing emphasis on wellbeing in the workplace. It was also important for the design to include a variety of working spaces, such as communal tables, lounges, and co-working nooks. By honoring the historical significance of the space and the company that now inhabits it, the WMG project was more than just a relocation. It precipitated a larger cultural shift within the Los Angeles arts community. 



Celebrating Design Excellence: 2020 IIDA Calibre Awards


On August 27, 2020, the annual Calibre Awards Show was held virtually for the first time ever. The event was streamed on YouTube as the industry watched in anticipation to see which projects won. Categories such as Education, Health & Wellness, Hospitality, and Workplaces, among others, demonstrated the breadth of expertise and talent in Southern California. As always, it is an honor to have projects nominated annually for IIDA Calibre Design Awards, and we are pleased to announce that the Warner Music Group headquarters project won in the “Work Extra Large” category.

READ MORE Celebrating Design Excellence: 2020 IIDA Calibre Awards