Photo by Gilly Younger via Flickr
This is the Bradbury Building in downtown Los Angeles. Do you recognize it? If not, take a look at its interior.
A breathtaking staircase, isn’t it? Now, have you seen it before? Even though the inside of the Bradbury Building has been used in over twenty films, it has been adapted for use across almost every genre. It also pops up in television shows and music videos.
Take a look at the building in perhaps its most iconic scene from Blade Runner:
The building appears at the end of the film, during the final showdown between Roy and Deckard. Source: Digital Film Tree
Fittingly, the building had its origins in science fiction and the paranormal. When millionaire Lewis L. Bradbury (of no relation to author Ray Bradbury) commissioned draftsman George Wyman to design the building, he initially refused. Then, after a ghostly conversation with his dead brother, who urged him to take on the job, Wyman agreed to do it. He took inspiration from the sci-fi novel Looking Backward by Edward Bellamy, who described in the book a building that was a “vast hall full of light, received not alone from the windows on all sides, but from the dome, the point of which was a hundred feet above.”
The Bradbury Building’s well-lit interior really does reflect this description. Its skylight illuminates the eclectic Victorian design, complete with ornamental cast iron, glazed brick, and polished wood. The central court literally shines, and it’s unfortunately hidden by the less eye-catching Italian Renaissance Revival exterior of the building.
Here’s the building in some more recent movies:
The final scene of (500) Days of Summer, in which Tom meets Autumn
George Valentine and Peppy Miller symbolically run into each other on the Bradbury stairs in The Artist.
Today, the Bradbury serves as the headquarters for the LAPD Internal Affairs division and has been designated a National Historic Landmark. The Bradbury Building is also an Untapped urban gem. You never would have guessed that the building’s dull-looking facade could contain such a gorgeous and timeless piece of film history, would you?
Get in touch with the author @YiinYangYale.