One of the key directives was given was that the new CAA headquarters “not be reminiscent of the old space,” which it isn’t—and yet is. Talent agency buildings, Hawthorne observed in the Times, tend to be “the architectural version of the agent’s neatly pressed dark suit.” If Ovitz’s building was like an Eighties Armani suit—the synergistic creation of unimpeachable taste and marketing hype—the new CAA headquarters is more like one of Lourd’s custom-made Band of Outsiders suits, triangulating attitude, craftsmanship and just enough new styling to tweak tradition without breaking from it.
In the end, what makes CAA’s building most interesting is not that it’s an architectural masterpiece, but rather that it isn’t. And that may be its smartest success. For Lourd and Co., the heirs of a brilliant visionary, to attempt to outbuild Ovitz would have smacked of edifice-complex insecurities—or, even worse, unbridled vanity, since no architecture should distract attention from the real stars of the building, the CAA clientele. Ovitz built a palace for himself, but the new CAA, with its design process by committee, has produced something akin to a mega-gadget. It’s multifunctional, programmable and sleek to the touch, appealing to the design geek and the techno nerd alike. Plus, it’s cool enough and expensive enough that those who don’t possess it will undoubtedly wish that they did, which is, after all, exactly the allure of owning an iPhone, a G-V or, for that matter, the Death Star.