Architect breathes new life into L.A.’s historic core

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Architect breathes new life into L.A.'s historic core
Architect Wade Killefer, an expert in converting old buildings to new uses, says he is most proud of his contributions toward creating residences for people of modest economic means // © Kent Nishimura
Architect breathes new life into L.A.'s historic core
Architect Wade Killefer, an expert in converting old buildings to new uses, says he is most proud of his contributions toward creating residences for people of modest economic means // © Kent Nishimura

The gig: Wade Killefer, who has always liked building things, has become one of the go-to architects for developers who want to convert historic buildings in downtown Los Angeles to new uses such as housing or hotels. Among his most prominent residential conversions are the Art Deco-style Eastern Columbia Building, a former department store on Broadway, and the Pegasus, a former oil company headquarters on Flower Street. But that’s just one specialty for an architect who has also designed single-family homes, libraries, schools and apartment buildings.

Early years: Killefer, 66, grew up in Washington, D.C., and earned a degree in English from Stanford University. Having no particular career in mind upon graduation, he joined a carpenters union to take part in its apprentice program. Soon he decided that his life interests came together in architecture. “Both writing and architecture are about having an idea and then supporting it. They’re just different means of expression,” Killefer said.

Getting launched: Killefer returned to school, securing a graduate degree in architecture at UCLA. There he met his wife and business partner, architect Barbara Flammang. “Barb was a classmate. We were both late to graduate school and had the two worst seats in the studio,” he recalled. Their Santa Monica firm Killefer Flammang Architects just celebrated its 40th anniversary. []

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