Dear LAist: What's The Deal With The 'Happy Birthday' Building On Glendale Boulevard?

(A view of 142 Glendale Boulevard — the "happy birthday building." Photo: Jane Jozefowicz/LAist)

WE'RE ANSWERING THE QUESTIONS ABOUT SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA THAT KEEP YOU UP AT NIGHT. IF YOU HAVE ONE, ASK IT HERE.


You're driving on Glendale, headed downtown, and something catches your eye: big blue letters that read "HAPPY BIRTHDAY."

What's it all about? That's what one LAist reader wanted to know.

We did some digging, or rather, some driving, in Echo Park. And there it was, waiting like a surprise party, just around the corner from the famous Bob Baker Marionette Theater — a red-orange building wishing everyone a happy birthday.

There was nothing else to identify the building. No signage. No street number. No nothing.

So we looked up the neighboring business: a mid-century modern furniture store called Amsterdam Modern.

We asked the owner, Ellen LeComte, whether she knew anything about her conspicuous next-door neighbor.

PLOT TWIST! LeComte is not only the owner of Amsterdam Modern but also the owner of 142 Glendale Boulevard, "the happy birthday building."

LeComte rents the building to interior designer Sally Breer, who founded the ETC.etera design firm with stylist-creative director Jake Rodehuth-Harrison. Their firm specializes in residential and commercial interior design. Their work can be seen at Hotel Covell in Los Feliz, Cafe Birdie in Highland Park, and Hotel Erwin in Venice.

The building on Glendale Boulevard acts as the company's studio space, but they are working on opening a by-appointment showroom in it as well.

OK, that's all great and wonderful. But why does it say "happy birthday"?

Breer said their company was struggling to come up with a way to identify its not-particularly-notable facade.

Her partner, Rodehuth-Harrison, came up with the idea to put the message on the building, and junior designer Adrie Costanza designed a mural that was "the right amount of weird."

Here's what Breer had to say:

'Happy birthday' because it felt joyful, relevant for SOMEONE SOMEWHERE literally every day. We wanted people to drive by and smile at the absurdity of this huge 'HAPPY BIRTHDAY' on the side of a building on their commute to work, and maybe once and a while if we're lucky, it would be someone's birthday, and they might think it was for them.

The firm collaborated with Portola Paints to bring its vision to life.

"We're so thrilled that people are seeing it," Breer said, "and we hope it makes everyone smile!"

Have more questions about sights unknown in Southern California? Let us know. We're going to do our best to answer them.


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