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Thursday, September 9, 2010

Herb Nadel: Rough Sailing

Herb Nadel is one of the most prominent architects in Los Angeles County. During his five-decade career, he has designed well-known projects ranging from the Westwood Center office building to the LAX Gateway public art project – that’s those light towers – to downtown L.A.’s Union Rescue Mission. But Nadel, 70, had anything but a traditional path to success.

He was a miserable student whose parents took little interest in academics. It was only a fateful turn in the Coast Guard after failing out of Santa Monica City College that launched him toward success. In the maritime service, he weathered extreme anti-Semitism that put his life in danger, making him grow up rapidly. Almost four decades later, the firm he founded in 1973 boasts some 90 employees and has a strong international presence. Nadel sat down with the Business Journal in his stylish West L.A. office and spoke candidly about his life, becoming emotional when discussing difficult topics – such as the deaths of two siblings and his 30-year-old daughter. He also talked eagerly about the way he spends his free time – skiing, golfing and traveling the world with his companion, Jeannine Sefton – and how he plans to wind down his career.


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