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Los Angeles Architecture: Can They Save Our Landmarks?

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Danny Heller’s painting, LAX Theme Building — Ground Level (2011)

Change is inevitable. Architecture is a landmark of ideas, hopes and dreams, a visual representation of the inspired (and not so inspired) thoughts of a glimpse of time. The architecture of Los Angeles tells us the story of our city. Some of those buildings remain an iconic vision, while others suffer the fate of the wrecking ball and disappear from our view.

Preserving Midcentury Modern in Los Angeles

In the middle of the traffic jammed flow of LAX stands an iconic representation of Los Angeles architecture. The space age landmark known as the Theme Building was constructed to demonstrate the futuristic vision of Los Angeles to all that transit LAX. Today, the retro cocktail lounge and restaurant have been closed to the public since 2013, but the observations deck is open to visitors. This iconic building has been part of a debate about whether to preserve or destroy some of the landmarks that make up Los Angeles. Fortunately, the building at LAX was designated as a historic-cultural monument since 1993 and thereby saved from the wrecking ball. No doubt, without that protective action, this landmark would have become a victim of developers wanting to free up valuable space in a congested LAX complex.

That is the challenge we face in Los Angeles. Our cityscape is filled with some of the finest examples of midcentury modern, Googie or Populuxe architecture. Those structures captured the streamlined form of L.A.’s aerospace ambitions. Think of the jaunty roofline of Norms on La Cienega Boulevard, which was saved from demolition last year. The diner sign, with its Jetson’s-style cometlike shapes, literally points to the optimism of the midcentury.

The Architectural Story of Los Angeles

Our architecture tells the story of our city and is a tangible reminder of a slice in our historical timeline.

“In many ways the midcentury modern–era buildings and places from the 1950s to the 1970s best tell the story of Los Angeles during its greatest period of growth and prosperity,”

Adrian Scott Fine, Director of Advocacy at the Los Angeles Conservancy

Unfortunately, the race is on. Our cultural vision is changing, and so goes our landscape. We are losing fine examples of architecture from the period. The wrecking ball brings cruel change and relagates our history to memories and pictures. Advocates like the Los Angeles Conservancy have a battle ahead. Many of iconic structures have been demolished, with many others scheduled for destruction. Will we find a way to preserve our architectural history?

From the Factory Floor

LED oil rubbed bronze fixture on the way to a Manhattan client…

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Expanding the Art of Architecture

“What is architecture anyway? Is it the vast collection of the various buildings which have been built to please the varying taste of the various lords of mankind? I think not.”

“No, I know that architecture is life; or at least it is life itself taking form and therefore it is the truest record of life as it was lived in the world yesterday, as it is lived today or ever will be lived. So architecture I know to be a Great Spirit….”

“Architecture is that great living creative spirit which from generation to generation, from age to age, proceeds, persists, creates, according to the nature of man, and his circumstances as they change. That is really architecture.”

—Frank Lloyd Wright, from In the Realm of Ideas

There could be no better definition of architecture that is expressed by someone who embodies that definition.“That Embodiment by the trades, the architectural professionals and those that participate in the process elevates all that collaborate together, making a better Architecture – with a capital ‘A’ ” , says Gerald Olesker of ADG Lighting, a go to source in the design industry.

The practice of architecture is not only the science of building structures, but constructing the visual state of civilization. The hopes, dreams, desires and visions of man are represented by the work of architects. We can understand the evolution of man and the state of civilization through the vision of the structures that leap from the minds of our architects.

This year, the Southern California Institute of Architecture (SCI-Arc) will offer four specialized postgraduate programs aimed to enable architects to better prepare for a wide range of twenty-first century careers. The institute will offer one-year degree programs in a Master of Science in Architectural Technologies, Master of Arts in Entertainment and Fiction, Master of Science in Design of Cities, and Master of Science in Design Theory and Pedagogy.

“I am excited to see the advanced educational opportunities offered to architectural professionals, which is based in the Los Angeles area. Our region offers a unique representation of architecture, and there could be no better place for such a groundbreaking institute.”

– Gerald Olesker, CEO/Founder ADG Lighting

At ADG Lighting, we are driven by the spirit of creative exploration. Our work embodies and reflects a deep understanding of inspirational design. Spend some time exploring the possibilities at

hollyhock house, frank lloyd wright, architecture, design,

Hollyhock House: A Step Back in Time

Los Angeles is a premier destination for architecture. In any row of buildings or homes, it is a rarity to see two designed exactly alike. This unusual variety in design can be attributed perhaps to the climate, beautiful people, surreal blue skies and a laissez-faire attitude. This environment has always attracted everything from brilliant eccentrics and dreamers, to some of the best designers and architects in the world. As a result, Los Angeles is a must see city for those inspired by creative design and architecture.

Architecture At Its Best

One of the finest examples of architecture in Los Angeles is the Hollyhock House, in the heart of Barnsdall Park, built between 1919 and 1921. It represents a style of architecture known as “California Romanza.” This style name comes from the musical term meaning “freedom to make ones’s own form” and demonstrates Los Angeles’ significance as a trendsetter in the arts and architecture. The Hollyhock House represented the first house Frank Lloyd Wright designed in the Los Angeles community. The house was added to the national Register of Historic Places in 1971, then designated a National Historic Landmark in 2007. In February 2015, Hollyhock House was opened to the public after a multimillion dollar restoration project. Los Angeles Mayor Garcetti once stated that “Frank Lloyd Wright’s Hollyhock House is a crown jewel of Los Angeles architecture.”

Environment of Excellence

At ADG Lighting, we are proud to be part of community of design and architectural excellence. We were privileged to have worked on the Mat House in Reseda, California, designed by Frank’s son Lloyd Wright and known for its distinctive angular, thatch-like roof. The house was granted historic landmark status in 1996.

The Hollyhock House stands as a renowned and iconic tribute to the architectural creativity and excellence of Frank Lloyd Wright. Our creativity and design efforts are consistently inspired and challenged by the architectural representations in our community. Check out Gerald’s napkin sketch of the Hollyhock House.

Barnsdall Art Park

Our work has been viewed millions of times online and featured in several media outlets, including 20/Twenty Architectural & Beyond, California Homes Magazine, Elle Decor, SFV Business Journal, Architectural Digest, Institute of Classical Architecture Publications, Wall Street Radio, Fox News Charlene on Green Hawaii, North American Design’s Green Leaders of Tomorrow, LA City Watch, LUXE Magazine + other award-winning magazines, books, programs and properties around the world.


Reading books for Architects

What a great grouping of architecturally related books. As someone who had practiced Architecture 20 years ago, and over the last 20 years been part of the design/ supply and manufacturing trade to some of the top architectural homes, hotels resorts and public projects – I have been blessed to learn from each architect.

So here is the scoop, books on architecture have been great influencers on my right brain activity. BUT there is a unique and commenting divide amongst those architects that have become business leaders and stood out from the rest.

These great architects and masters only rose to the top because of persistence, and sometimes just good publicists. However, the ones that I have respected the most are the ones that have developed great businesses, (ARCHITECTS AS ENTREPRENEURS, copy right 2010 Gerald Olesker). This – from the entrepreneurial side in my opinion comes from business books like “Good to Great”, Jim Collins and “Mastering the Rockefeller Habits”, Verne Harnish . This is a left brain shift.

The second part to my post is uniquely a business proposition to all architects – Left Brain Shift and business switch up.
What makes a great architect. I have had the good fortune to work and design over 900 projects world wide, from the decorative lighting design and manufacturing perspective.. I have met many of you.

With this, I have had the good fortune of learning how to work with architects and designees alike. So many of you are talented and several stand out as great business leaders. Marc Appleton, Grant Kirkpatrick/ KAA and Richard Landry on the west coast have had exponentially great practices. I mention these three in particular because they all have published books. From a selfish perspective, my work stands out in all three. Therefore, I refer back to these books to remember that Greatness, like Jim Collins and Verne Harnish reveal in their books, comes from persistence and planning.

The good will of architects published from a historical point in Sir Banister Fletcher’s “A History of Architecture” gives one of the broadest overviews of where we have been as architects. The buildings we all appreciate are relevant too each in the architects own unique way. The clients choose each one of you because of your unique and experiential method of working with the client.

So to make the great leap over the cerebral divide, Pick up a business book, any one from Jim Collins or go to and practice daily great business habits and your client base will improve.

Gerald Olesker is the chief executive officer of Architectural Detail Group, inc and ADG eco Lighting – where our motto is that we are collaborative group enhancing the built environment through positive relationships. SO thank for including me in you Linked-in group