Sunkist leaving the Valley for, well, Valencia

LA Conservancy/Lynne Tucker

The Sunkist building on Riverside Drive in Sherman Oaks has been a visual landmark beside the Ventura Freeway for 45 years. Its inverted white structure is something of a beloved design for those who enjoy LA's postwar architecture. "A symphony in concrete," the Los Angeles Conservancy says. "The building looks a little bit like an orange crate, inverted and set upon angled concrete columns." The building was sold last February and now Sunkist Growers, the citrus cooperative with a legacy of 120 years of oranges and other produce in the Los Angeles area, is moving to a new headquarters in Valencia.

“It’s a huge boon for the entire Santa Clarita Valley for the jobs they will be bringing here. And as attrition happens they will be hiring new employees,” Jason Crawford, marketing and economic development manager for the city of Santa Clarita, told the Daily News. “It’s a great company and a household name and we are thrilled to have them moving here.”

They are less pleased in Los Angeles. "I remember when they were down off Fifth Street right across from the library," Councilman Tom LaBonge said. "I’m sorry that they are leaving, but their legacy is that building. It’s one of the great buildings in the San Fernando Valley and all of Los Angeles.”

IMT Capital, which bought the Sunkist building, plans to develop nearly 360,000 feet of retail space and 298 apartment units on the property, while preserving the original building.
From the LA Conservancy website:

It was designed by A. C. Martin and Associates, a firm with a long and storied history in Los Angeles. In the late 1960s, the firm was busy changing the look of downtown with its Corporate International-style skyscrapers. For Sunkist, A. C. Martin created a low-rise but unquestionably monumental Late Modern-style building of reinforced concrete with recessed windows. It is shaped somewhat like an inverted pyramid, colossally wide at the top and tapering in at the base so it appears to balance on concrete legs.

The office building has a Brutalist feel, with its extensive use of concrete and impassive façades, but its off-white color imparts a certain lightness, almost an airy quality. It is a contrast that works—this building is definitely remembered by anyone who has passed by it.

Formed in 1893 as the Southern California Fruit Exchange, the cooperative began marketing under the Sunkist name early in the 20th century. Oranges stamped with the Sunkist name appeared in 1926, the company says.

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