The architecture of Los Angeles has fascinated and confounded many a visitor. L.A. seems too residential to be called a city, too eclectic to be taken seriously and too young to have a history. But a city it certainly is: one with a faceted, storied architectural heritage—particularly when it comes to its most renowned contribution to architecture, the single-family home. This spring, 11 exhibits and a number of related tours, talks, screenings and performances will investigate and celebrate Los Angeles’ architecture through a regionwide initiative, launched and funded by the Getty Foundation, called “Pacific Standard Time Presents: Modern Architecture in L.A.” The variety of the city’s buildings makes for a breathless survey, from postwar suburban housing tracts to the glamour of sleek modern homes and forward to the playful postmodern experiments of the 1970s and today’s sculptural designs.
Domestic architecture thrived there in the mid–20th century, building on a spirit of experimentation and driven by a massive population boom after World War II. Architects including Pierre Koenig, Ray Kappe and A. Quincy Jones reimagined the house, combining emerging technologies and construction methods with styles that had already flourished in the region, like the tiered and open floor plans borrowed from Japanese design, the cool grid of Bauhaus modernism and the undisguised use of natural materials like wood and stone.
Plate-glass windows and angled, irregular ceilings produced an airy openness inside these homes that brought the natural landscape closer. The resulting look not only epitomized a break with the stuffy bric-a-brac of the past but also solidified California’s role in defining the new American Dream.
Next Skyline Sketched