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“There are people in the business who think we are boutique, yet we are 650 employees or so,” says Sam Gores, CEO of Paradigm Talent Agency, which represents Stephen King, Laurence Fishburne, director James Wan, Coldplay, Halsey, Ed Sheeran, the Duffer brothers, Night School director Malcolm D. Lee and Crazy Rich Asians‘ Henry Golding, among more than 4,000 other clients. “We are not boutique, but we are a very special place, and I wanted people to get that impression the minute they stepped in.”
To accomplish this, Paradigm, which launched in 1992, relied on Richard Riveire, a partner at international architecture firm Rottet Studios, to transform the 82,000- square-foot Wilshire LaPeer monolith, once the offices of the ICM Partners talent agency, into vibrant new headquarters (to the tune of high-teen millions, says a source). The new office space also brings together the agency’s three offices — in Beverly Hills, Hollywood and downtown — under one roof.
Rottet is well known for architectural magic tricks: Its team transformed the imposing lobby of the I.M. Pei building, CAA’s former Beverly Hills home, into a relaxed affair for Sony Music; renovated the Michael Graves-designed Team Disney building in Burbank; completed Viacom’s West Coast headquarters at Hollywood’s Columbia Square last year; and redesigned UTA’s Beverly Hills offices. The new Paradigm space is a complete pivot from its former Beverly Hills digs, a Hollywood campus designed for MCA in 1932 by Paul R. Williams.
“It was important to us to take ownership of this building from the get-go,” says Gores. That meant reimagining the staid corporate structure as a collegial and collaborative space. Two holes were driven through the center of the building. “It was major demolition,” says Riveire. The result makes room for a soaring, central staircase that floods the entire building with light. Rottet “thinks this has been the most complicated feat of engineering in Los Angeles up to this point,” suggests Gores.
A mirrored cap amplifies the light streaming into the atrium and plays with a visitor’s perception of the art — such as Eve Fowler’s colorful letterpress series, The Difference Is Spreading — peppered along its circumference. Dotted with cushions, the staircase can also serve as bleacher seating during agency-wide meetings; an adjoining conference room’s glass doors accordion open to accommodate spillover. “The building is stunning, but what has been the most impactful is how the design has encouraged a natural sense of collaboration,” says Andrew Ruf, co-head of talent.
Rising toward the top floor, the stone and steel stairwell offers a glimpse into the upper stories’ assemblage of glass-fronted offices, signing rooms, conference areas, kitchens, a candy room for kid clients (and others) and listening rooms. Music agents occupy the second floor (about 40 percent of Coachella acts this year were repped by Paradigm), while literary and talent take the top floor. “The intent was to make sure that everybody could always see everybody,” says Riveire.
Gores’ office is similarly designed, with wide hallway access. An interior conference room divides the cavernous space into two areas and is punctuated by Anaheim, Alex Prager’s explosive 2017 photograph of a spaceship launch. “Somehow this building was feeling to me like it was going to rocket us into [the future],” says Gores.
Visitors entering the building — from the street or the underground parking garage — are immediately pulled into the center of the action. The raw energy of Kenton Parker’s dynamic black-and-white Ripper prints animates the elevator lobby on each of the building’s floors, underlining that effect.
If the central staircase is the building’s brain, the Coffee Lounge, which sprawls from one end of the main floor through the central courtyard, is its heart. Glass doors blur the line between indoors and out. “You come down and there could be 200 people having lunch, all different levels of hierarchy,” says Gores, whose company has a policy of giving everyone 90 minutes for the break. Adds co-head of talent Stephanie Ramsey, “I love sitting in the coffee bar with an actor, and at the next table there is a music meeting.”
Clients are encouraged to hang out, underlining Paradigm’s ethos of accessibility. “I look forward to coming in,” notes Golding. “There’s such good energy.” That’s exactly the reaction the agency’s CEO was hoping for.
This story first appeared in the Oct. 17 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.
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