• LA's Cathedral of St. Vibiana is reborn as a high-end venue

     
    FROM THE Winter 2016 ISSUE
     
  • LA's Cathedral of St. Vibiana is reborn as a high-end venue

     
    FROM THE Winter 2016 ISSUE
     

Transforming downtown Los Angeles’ Cathedral of St. Vibiana, which was built in 1876, and the rectory, built in 1933, into a modern event space and performing arts venue has taken more than a decade. Now fully retrofitted, air-conditioned and modernized, with custom sound and digitally controlled lighting systems, the main hall at Vibiana and its adjacent courtyard has been the site of art openings, fashion shows, wine tastings, weddings, high-profile fundraisers and Emmy awards after-parties. Fox/FX welcomed 1,000 guests for its starstudded soirée in September 2015; Mindy Weiss and Revelry Design handled the brilliant design details.

The artfully reconfigured rectory is now Redbird, a haute dining spot under the direction of chef Neal Fraser. The restaurant has an open-air dining room, several private dining spaces and a camera-ready kitchen with cutting- edge appliances sponsored by Jenn-Air.

“It’s such an amazing piece of architecture, with so many details,” says Amy Knoll Fraser, managing partner of Vibiana (the facilities’ event company) and Redbird. The historic building was ceded to the city after it was damaged in the Northridge earthquake; in 2002, the Catholic Church inaugurated a new modern cathedral nearby. St. Vibiana’s has been desacralized (its religious status officially removed). However, the ornate marble altar remains as a dramatic and picturesque reminder of the building’s earlier purpose.

What was once the sacristy, where the priests readied for Mass, is now the purposebuilt kitchen: one side is Redbird’s, the other serves Vibiana and both utilize the large prep area and refrigerated cellar. “The setup is a luxury for events because there’s no schlepping and our systems are consistent, helping with service, efficiency and cost,” Amy says. Event menus reflect LA’s multicultural populace, with inspiration coming from the cuisines of Korea, Armenia, China, India, Mexico and more. Ingredients are sourced locally as much as possible. “From pulled pork sliders to foie gras, we execute and plate everything to order,” says Amy of the ambitious presentation and food service program. “My goal is to make the main hall feel like a fine dining restaurant. What appeals to event planners is the space is so versatile; it’s a blank canvas and they can come in and do anything.” With over 100 events taking place in 2015, planners are clearing saying “amen” to that.

Temperatures are starting to dip in Seattle, but if you want to get in one last outdoor gathering before winter, consider The Rooftop at WeWork Cap Hill. Located on the penthouse level on 11th Avenue near Seattle’s storied Pine and Pike Streets, the space offers inviting landscapes and spectacular views of the surrounding mountains. Capacity: 74.  Bring sweaters and scarves!

 

The Shay, a Destination by Hyatt hotel, in the Culver City neighborhood is opening its doors.

This marks the Los Angeles debut of the Destination by Hyatt brand, a diverse collection of independent hotels and resorts, with each property embodying the spirit of its location. For the 148-room Shay that means pop-up shops in the lobby, a lobby fire pit, rooftop socials on a pool deck that offers views of downtown.

 

After many delays and budget overruns, the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures has finally opened. It’s a blockbuster, with enough dazzle, beauty and innovation to, arguably, justify its $484 million cost. And, in good news for meeting planners, the event space here is gorgeous!