The Commercial Design Award of Excellence is awarded for the restoration of the Golden State Mutual Life Insurance Building in Los Angeles, California. At its completion, both the building and its architect, Paul Revere Williams, were central to the African-American community during the previous century and influenced the history of Southern California. For much of the 20th century Golden State Mutual Life Insurance was the largest black-owned insurance company in the western United States and the first in the region to write insurance policies to all people regardless of color. The company was a pillar of the African-American community, providing hundreds of African-Americans and other minorities stable, middle-class employment, and was front and center in the drive for civil rights as the site of numerous voter drives and community organization efforts, including a visit by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The interiors have been restored to match the original 1949 design, and the building now serves the community as a center of the South Central Los Angeles Regional Center (“SCLARC”) campus. The property is listed on the National Register and as a Historic Cultural Monument in the City of Los Angeles.
“The renovation of this lesser known modern office headquarters in Los Angeles embodies the ethos of “refreshing” a building rather than replacing (i.e. a light touch rather than a heavy hand).”
– 2016 Jury