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LOS ANGELES On Wednesday, March 11, the board of directors of the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts hosted a groundbreaking event for the project, which will turn the historic Beverly Hills Post Office into the new venue. Years in the making, the project's official kickoff brought about 500 community leaders, celebrities, V.I.P.s, and political types to the landmark 1933 building.
The event marked the last time the building was available for public viewing. The post office will be restored and modified, and the mail sorting and postage areas will be reimagined as a studio theater, sculpture garden, café, and gift shop. It will also house the 500-seat Goldsmith Theater.
Annenberg Center executive director Lou Moore tapped J. Ben Bourgeois Productions to produce the event with a theme organizers billed as “construction chic.” The Beverly Hills High School drum line beckoned guests, and characters dressed in theater costumes and construction gear posed inside for a lighthearted touch. When the drum corps marched through the building and out to the loading dock, the official program began outside, where the podium was framed by a 70-foot crane that took down a section of wall on Crescent.
Wolfgang Puck catered the event, and Sterling Vintner's Collection poured its wines. Matt Construction, Wells Fargo, Paradigm, Platinum Equity, Mercedes Benz of Beverly Hills, and Neiman Marcus were also among the sponsors.
Tables were covered in construction materials like orange plastic fencing, and calla lilies sprung from paint cans.
“It's a groundbreaking, so we didn't want to be over the top with anything elegant, yet we wanted to set the tone for the theatrics of what was coming when the center opened,” said Colleen Downs, the project manager for Ben Bourgeois. “We wanted to create an environment that was theatrical in its own way. The performers and [other production details] looked forward to the future of the center. We had a lot of fun with it, and brought in any kind of fun, funky construction element we could come up with.”