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