The Mar Vista Tract in West Los Angeles, California was designed by Gregory Ain in 1947, in collaboration with Joseph Johnson and Alfred Day. Ain was a significant "second generation" modernist architect who had worked with and was influenced by the first generation of California Modern masters - European immigrants Richard Neutra and Rudolph Schindler. Ain believed in bringing good design to the masses; he belonged to the school of thought that espoused architecture's potential to shape a more egalitarian world. He is credited as being the first architect to design a house that did not contemplate servants. A lot of Ain’s ideals were achieved in the "Modernique Homes" development, the name under which the Mar Vista Tract was marketed in 1948. The intent of the Mar Vista Tract was to create a housing development that provided cost efficient housing while advancing the cause of Modern architectural design. [more inside]
The post-war boom gave rise to new concepts of modernity in domestic architecture and, of course, massive suburban development. One such concept was the California ranch-style home, pioneered by Cliff May (1909-1989). Another contemporary architect, Joseph Eichler (1900-1974), had his own vision of modernity in America's new suburbs, but both styles used similar language. At the time, these new designs for living were seen as modern and at the cutting edge of sophistication, but sophistication within reach of the average professional, middle-class family. They were designed to have a practical as well as an aesthetic value. Welcome to mid-century modern. [more inside]
Imbued with asymmetrical charm and handcrafted whimsy, Storybook Style houses evoke the aesthetic of classic fairy tales, inside and out. [more inside]
The SCI-Arc Media Archive features 600+ video lectures on modern architecture and design, with an emphasis on Southern California.
Since 2009, a thread on the Skyscraper Page forums has been dedicated to trawling for old photos and stories of Los Angeles, mostly from the LA Public Library and USC Archives. Thousands of posts have accumulated into a fascinating portrait of the city. [more inside]
About 2 miles into the park... things start to get strange. A forbidding padlocked wrought-iron gate, surrounded by a low lying stone wall sits nestled on the edge of the trail.... Strange rusted debris starts to appear on the side of the paths. What looks like an old water filtration system, broken pieces of farm equipment, half buried sinks, strange concrete slabs with graffiti . A lovely little steam appears and makes delightful background noises, lizards and birds scatter about your feet. And then you see it. A burned-out overgrown concrete building completely covered with graffiti. Cartoon of Hitler? Check. Declaration of undying teenage love? Check.... The bunker of the building is exposed and filled with trash; a metal cage sits menacingly in the corner, and outside a series of stone steps wind up to what seems to have once been a sustenance garden. The steps then continue all the way to the top of the canyon (3,000 steps in all) and ghosts of America Nazis patrolling the wilds fill your head. Baby, we aren't at the Grove anymore... We are at the Los Angeles Nazi Compound! Well, it's actually the ruins of a small community built by Nazi sympathizers, in the hills outside of greater Los Angeles. [more inside]
Eichler homes! Most Eichlers are located in northern California, but you can find a few developments in the southland. People restore and renovate their Eichlers, write magazine articles about them, and take lots of photos of them. Even Mr. Incredible owned an Eichler. But owning an Eichler is not for everyone. Want to buy an Eichler? Join the Eichler Network or tour an open house.
NPR article and slide show of the works of Julius Shulman. If you've seen anything by Shulman, you've seen this one. Gas station buffs probably favor this. And, if this one wasn't in Playboy, it should have been! And, bunches more though a google image search. And, at 98, he's still capturing images!
Architectural critic and writer Reyner Banham loved Los Angeles. (Last link is a BBC documentary, circa 1972, 52 minutes -- NSFW at 47 minute mark) [more inside]
The Cliff House was San Francisco Mayor Adolph Sutro's amazing 7-storey Victorian chateau built in 1896 and destroyed by fire in 1907. The Cliff House Project (photos) has a large and absorbing database of related material. [via the indefatigable gmtPlus9 (-15)]
In the early 1900's, Sicilian immigrant Baldasare Forestiere moved from New York the San Joaquin valley, California. Working alone during his spare time and using only hand tools, he spent 40 years sculpting an underground home and garden [Real] that's a work of art and architectural engineering known today as the Forestiere Underground Gardens. [Gimages]
"If I allow the fact that I am a Negro to checkmate my will to do, now, I will inevitably form the habit of being defeated".
The Jackie Robinson of architecture. An orphaned African American boy from downtown Los Angeles, Paul Revere Williams wanted to be an architect, and when he mentioned his career goal the high school guidance counselor ”stared at me with as much astonishment as he would have had I proposed a rocket flight to Mars... Whoever heard of a Negro being an architect?”. Therefore, Williams learned to read and draw upside down -- he knew that white clients would not sit next to him -- graduated from USC and in 1924 became the first certified African American architect west of the Mississippi. In a 50-year long extraordinary career, he designed landmarks like the Theme restaurant at Los Angeles International Airport (with Welton Becket), the LA County Courthouse, the Hollywood YMCA, Saks Fifth Avenue in Beverly Hills, restored the Beverly Hills Hotel. Some of his most interesting buildings, like the La Concha Motel in Las Vegas have either been razed to the ground or, like the "Batman house", aka 160 S San Rafael mansion in Pasadena, have been destroyed by fire. Now, Williams' historic Morris Landau House has been cut into 21 separate pieces and sits in a Santa Clarita storage yard, rotting away. More inside.
Contemporary buildings and interiors by Johnston Marklee & Associates, including The Sale House in Venice, CA, and The Hill House in Pacific Palisades
The most modern home built in the world. "From the outside it looks like a spaceship you cannot enter. But if you go inside, it feels very cozy… very Zen and calming. Maybe because you are floating above the city, in the sky". John Lautner's Chemosphere residence is the product of a fortuitous union of architect, client, time and place. Leonard Malin was a young aerospace engineer in late-1950s L.A. whose father-in-law had just given him a plot north of Mulholland Drive, near Laurel Canyon. The only catch: at roughly 45 degrees, the slope was all but unbuildable. Lautner sketched a bold vertical line, a cross, and a curve above it. "Draw it up," he told his assistant. Now publisher Benedikt Taschen owns Chemosphere (NSFW), and after 20 years of neglect the house has been beautifully restored (.pdf) by Frank Escher.