Source: The Ratkovich Company, Photography by Randall Michelson.
to enrich our present and inform our future.
The Hughes Industrial Historic District was constructed in the 1940s and 1950s as the campus of Hughes Aircraft Company, an innovative aviation firm created in 1932 by film producer, record-setting pilot, and mining drill heir Howard Hughes. From World War II through the 1980s, the company played a significant role in the development of aviation, avionics, and aerospace in Southern California. The campus design reflects the defense industry campuses of the mid-century era, where thousands of scientists and engineers developed breakthrough technology alongside large-scale production facilities and airstrips.
In 1991, the Army Corps of Engineers evaluated the Hughes Aircraft facility as part of a proposed development project and determined that it was eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places as a historic district for the period of 1941-1953. The Corps concluded that the district was significant for its contribution to the development of the aircraft and aerospace industries in Southern California and for its association with industrialist Howard Hughes, Jr. The Corps also concluded that Building 15, the largest of the district’s contributing buildings, was eligible for listing in the National Register as an individual building for its pioneering use of glue-laminated wood. Though neither the district nor Building 15 has been listed in the National Register to date, both are listed in the California Register of Historical Resources.
Production ceased at the facility in 1994. A year later, a private real estate developer proposed redeveloping the land and buildings for the purposes of an entertainment, media, and film studio. The project was only partially realized before it was abandoned, though five of the district’s contributing buildings were demolished, and six new buildings were constructed along the way. When the project fell apart, the remaining district contributors were left vacant with the exception of intermittent film production use.
In 2010, The Ratkovich Company purchased the district and embarked on an ambitious program of rehabilitation and revitalization. Today, the historic district, commonly known as the Hercules Campus after the giant, wooden, “flying boat” that was constructed on its grounds, is once again a bustling hub of innovation and technology. It is home to the creative offices of cutting-edge firms in the areas of media, entertainment, internet technology, and advertising.
This website provides information on the history of the Hughes Industrial Historic District from its association with eccentric company founder Howard Hughes, to its early incarnation as a center of Southern California’s defense and aviation industries, and finally to its recent rebirth as the Hercules Campus, the jewel of Silicon Beach. We cordially invite you to browse these pages to learn more about this invaluable Southern California resource.
The following firms, agencies, and individuals were instrumental in the early stages of the renaissance of the Hughes Industrial Historic District, including the core, shell, tenant improvements, and landscape design for all district contributors, except Buildings 14, 15, and 16. These three interconnected buildings are under construction at present and are scheduled for completion in 2018.
The Ratkovich Company
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
John Killeen, RPA
Federal Review Agency
Ross Project Management
CBRE Project Management
Deborah Rachlin Ross
Levin & Associates
Brenda A. Levin, FAIA
Nabih Youssef & Associates
Historic Preservation Consultant
Interscape Construction, Inc.
Steve RussellNeal E. Harper
Mark Fuller, LEED APPaul Holzschuh
Sherwin CheginiAndy Meyers
John RussellBill HansonRandy Wallace
Core and Shell Contractors