The Abandoned Luxury Towers That Graffiti Exposed


Skyscrapers in the heart of Los Angeles were a financial failure that many people had ignored — until graffiti artists tagged their windows.

It was a billion-dollar aspiration meant to transform a neighborhood.

A trio of shimmering skyscrapers would feature luxury condos, a five-star hotel and an open-air galleria with retailers and restaurants. Among the amenities: private screening rooms, a two-acre park, pet grooming services and a rooftop pool. A celebrity fitness trainer would help curate a wellness lifestyle for residents.

The vision was called Oceanwide Plaza, and the chief executive said it would “redefine the Los Angeles skyline.” An executive for the design firm said it would create “a vibrant streetscape.” The website said it would be a place of “rare and unexpected moments.”

All these statements, some would say, proved to be true. Just not in the way originally imagined.

Funding for the venture quickly evaporated. The towers went up but were unfinished and empty. Plagued by financial and legal issues, the plaza was in a quiet limbo for five years.

Until, recently, an underground community pulled it into an unforeseen spotlight.

Now those skyscrapers have become a symbol of street swagger, “bombed” with the work of dozens of graffiti writers and artists. Their aliases cover windows that rise more than 40 stories, visible from the nearby highways.

“Everybody’s talking about it, of course,” said Ceet Fouad, a French graffiti artist based in Hong Kong, known for his commissioned murals featuring cartoon chickens.

“We said it’s amazing what’s happened — we dream to have a place like this. In the middle of Los Angeles? It’s the best promotion you can have.”

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