Pasadena location managers don’t need a flux capacitor to travel back in time. Instead, they have the Stuart Building, a gorgeous 1950s-era former office complex that has the ability to immediately transport filmmakers – or anyone who sets foot inside – to the midcentury. A virtual time capsule of authentic retro beauty, the sprawling site was initially erected in 1958 and has remained largely unaltered since, affording film crews the unique opportunity to shoot against a pristinely preserved Neo-Formalist backdrop. The place has become such a show business fixture, in fact, that it was featured in two period productions last year alone – the Starz biographical miniseries “Gaslit,” about famed whistleblower Martha Mitchell (Julia Roberts) and her central role in uncovering the Watergate scandal, as well as the much-ballyhooed Olivia Wilde-directed psychological thriller “Don’t Worry Darling.”
Located at 3360 E. Foothill Blvd., the streamlined complex was originally built as a headquarters and plant for the Stuart Company, a vitamin and pharmaceutical manufacturer best known for developing the popular Mylanta heartburn medication. Designed by celebrated modernist architect Edward Durell Stone, who also gave us Washington, D.C.’s John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and the Museum of Modern Art and Radio City Music Hall in New York, the property was highly innovative for its time. Crafted with employee comfort in mind, the Stuart Company’s forward-thinking founder, Arthur O. Hanisch, commissioned Stone to create a work environment that would foster wellness and healthy living for his large staff. To that end, numerous recreational amenities were incorporated into the design, including a pool, a pool house, a shaded pavilion with patio furniture fashioned by Brown Jordan, a garden, a dining hall and a terrace. While office napping pods and meditation rooms were several decades away from inception, Hanisch and Stone paved the way for the many employee-friendly office complexes that populate the Silicon Valley landscape today.