The building was named for former LAPD chief William H. Parker. Originally called the Police Administration Building (PAB), it was renamed after Parker following his death in 1966. Groundbreaking for the center was December 30, 1952, and construction was completed in 1955, at a cost of a little over $6 million. The architect was Welton Becket. The building combined police facilities that had been located throughout the Civic Center area. The location was previously home to the Olympic Hotel.
Parker Center was damaged by the 1994 Northridge earthqquake, but it was kept in use after modest repairs. When Harry Bosch returned to the LAPD in 2005, Parker Center was slated for demolition and replacement. The new LAPD headquarters was built but Parker Center was not demolished. In 2013 it was proposed for historic preservation status.