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Paul Williams Lax Architecture

Paul Williams and Los Angeles Architecture

When exploring the greater Los Angeles area, some of the most remarkable architecture was from the creative vision of architect Paul Williams. He was a major contributor to the architectural landscape of the city that lives on today.

Paul Williams was a master of many styles, from English Tudor to Spanish Colonial and the casual California ranch style. He dedicated his work to enhancing people’s lives by designing architecture with the local climate and light in mind. A-listers such as Denzel Washington and Ellen DeGeneres have lived in Williams’ homes. Hotel heir Barron Hilton currently lives in a distinct Bel Air home, which Williams and interior design partner Harriet Shellenberger originally designed for businessman Jacob “Jay” Paley. The Paley Residence became widely known for its magnificent pool, featuring sandy beach areas, beautiful imported mosaic tile work and an overall emphasis on outdoor living spaces reflective of a Southern California lifestyle. Even though he quickly became known as the architect to the stars, he was also involved in the conceptual design and redesign of many iconic L.A. landmarks such as the LAX Theme Building, the Golden State Mutual Life Insurance Building, the Shrine Auditorium, the Beverly Hills Hotel, and the First African Methodist Episcopal Church.

A graduate of the University of Southern California, he became the first black member of the American Institute of Architects (AIA) and over the course of his lifetime participated in nearly 3,000 projects. In December 2016, Williams was posthumously awarded the 2017 AIA Gold Medal. He was the first African-American architect to receive the prestigious honor.

The iconic work of Paul Williams cannot be understated, and proper respect must be paid to his innovation and creativity. Janna Ireland just authored a fine narrative pictorial in Curbed Los Angeles on the work of Paul Williams. It is a great narrative of the life and times of Paul Williams, accompanied by a pictorial history she has documented over the past three years.

From the ADG Jobsite  

The Garden lantern…

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by Gerald Olesker, CEO, ADG Lighting

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Sea Ranch Architecture Explored

The Sea Ranch is located on an extraordinary site along the Pacific Coast Highway, along a ten-mile stretch of the rugged cliffs near San Francisco. It reflects the earliest innovations in environmentally conscious designs.

It all began with the site acquisition by developer Al Boeke. The site was originally a working sheep ranch. Boeke and his partner Richard Neutra had a vision to do something different and make an impact with the development. The Sea Ranch project quickly grew with a roster of architects which included Lawrence Halprin, Joseph Esherick Obie Bowman and others. Halprin’s master plan would define the design aesthetic and disrupted the design standard of the time, which was cookie-cutter planned communities after World War II.

The driving influence of the Sea Ranch was based on the life experience of Halprin, who had spent childhood summers on a kibbutz near Haifa, Israel. His vision was that people would live “lightly” on the land, just as the indigenous people of the region had. Some felt that the Sea Ranch was a reflection of the laid-back utopian West Coast lifestyle. The truth be told, the project was purely about design and the relationship to the land. The project details were about certain tastes, light and color, while being sensitive to the local culture, climate and place. Through the design, the Sea Ranch design left open the meadows and set back the buildings from the bluffs, creating a communal landscape. The structures were clad in unfinished wood, which was allowed to fade to gray with skylights in the roofs to capture the views of the redwood forests. The design team made the buildings part of the landscape instead of buildings that just sat on open land.

The Sea Ranch will continue to influence architects, designers and visionaries for decades to come.   

From the ADG Jobsite

Weathered beauty…

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by Gerald Olesker, CEO, ADG Lighting

 

Arata Isozaki Architect Pritzker

Arata Isozaki Awarded the 2019 Pritzker

“I wanted to see the world through my own eyes, so I traveled around the globe at least ten times before I turned 30. Through this, I kept questioning, ‘What is architecture?’”

Arata Isozaki

The 2019 Pritzker Prize has been awarded to Japanese architect Arata Isozaki. The Pritzker jury noted in their award that in over six decades of work, he has taken inspiration in shaping the physical from the intangible and promoted dialogue between Eastern and Western cultures, not through mimicry or a collage, but through forging new paths.

Arata Isozaki was born in 1931 in Kyushu, Japan, just across the waters from Hiroshima. At the age of 12, he saw his homeland burned down by the A-bomb attack on Hiroshima. It was a complete ruined wasteland. His city was left devoid of structures, architecture or cultural elements. This devastating event left young Isozaki considering how to rebuild cities from ground zero. This created a preoccupation with newly imagined concepts of urbanism that thread through his work today. He went on to study architecture at the University of Tokyo, graduating in 1954 and apprenticed under Kenzo Tange, the 1987 Pritzker award winner. Isozaki traveled the world extensively before the age of 30, getting a better understanding of people and their cultures, all the while wondering what is architecture.

Isozaki founded the firm Arata Isozaki & Associates in 1963 after the Allied Occupation of Japan ended, and was at the forefront of his country’s rebuilding effort. His work expanded to a global scale in 1980 and demonstrated an artful commingling of Japanese, European and American design elements through his work. His first commision (1981-1986) was the Museum of Contemporary Art, in Los Angeles. It was considered a controversial design for a postmodern building, rendered in red Indian sandstone. Isozaki was one of the first Japanese architects to build outside of Japan during a time when typically, Western culture was influencing the East. His work is truly international and influenced by his sense of global citizenry.

From the ADG Job Site

Having fun with full scale shop drawings in the rain. Architectural by Courtney Shatuck, interiors by Trip H.

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by Gerald Olesker, CEO, ADG Lighting

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Paradise Reimagined

Paradise, California was the living embodiment of its name. It was surrounded by miles of beautiful forest, mountain streams and clean air. It was just the place to unplug, refresh and relax in one of the most scenic locations in California. All of that picturesque beauty went up in flames during the Camp Fire in November 2018.

For Paradise, this fire devastated not only their property, but their community and the future of the residents for generations to come. It was complete and total devastation. The Camp Fire has gone down as the worst wildfire since the Cloquet fire in 1918, and is on the global record as one of the deadliest fires in history.

With the help of Cal Poly College of Architecture & Environmental Design, you will see Paradise reimagined and the scenic community rise from the ashes of devastation. Students traveled to Paradise earlier this year and spent time in the region and with community members to better understand their needs and what their vision for the future was. Led by Stacey White, Cal Poly faculty and lecturer in the architecture school, the students embarked on a design and rebuilding plan for Paradise that focused on the vision of the residents to give them their community back.

On February 22nd, Cal Poly students met with the residents of Paradise in Chico to present their initial ideas and get feedback from the community. The students presented 36 projects for review. The students will take this information back to Cal Poly and refine those projects down from 36 to 20 final projects. The groups will meet again in April to discuss and refine the final 20. The final projects will then be submitted to the community of Paradise in June for community approval.

The architecture students from Cal Poly are truly giving back to the residents of Paradise and the state of California in ways that just cannot be measured in dollars and cents. These students embody the spirit of California and the architecture profession.  

From the ADG Jobsite

We designed the furniture and covered window panels depicting familiar California scenes at the Farmer’s Insurance Agency in Granada Hills…

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by Gerald Olesker, CEO, ADG Lighting   

Robert Winter Architecture

Robert Winter, The Godfather of LA Architecture Passes

“Robert Winter was in the last of a group who lived and breathed the built world of Los Angeles, the people who experienced the development of midcentury modern architecture before there was a term for it.”

Paddy Calistro, Publisher Angel City Press

Robert Winter, the most renowned Los Angeles architectural historian and the Arthur G. Coons Professor of the History of Ideas, Emeritus, at Occidental College, Los Angeles passed at the age of 94. His writings have shined a light on the region’s architectural treasures and helped define the city’s built environment. Lovingly known throughout the architectural industry as “Bungalow Bob,” he was particularly known for his contributions to the history of the California branch of the Arts and Crafts Movement. Winter was present at the creation of the Craftsman Revival in the early 1970s — a revival that, as he has famously noted, has gone on far longer than the relatively short-lived Craftsman period itself.

He was born in Indianapolis in 1924 and attended Dartmouth University and Johns Hopkins before accepting positions at UCLA and Occidental College, where he taught for more than three decades. Robert Winter was eagerly known for his architectural writing, authoring or co-authoring numerous publications over the years. His most recognized work was his collaboration with David Gebhard, titled An Architectural Guidebook to Los Angeles, which became a ‘must-own’ reference guide for architects and architectural enthusiasts since the first editions in 1965.

Robert Winter lived in The Batchelder House, which is a historic home built in 1910 and located in Pasadena. It is known as an important center of Pasadena cultural life and was designed and built by Ernest A. Batchelder, a prominent leader of the Arts and Crafts Movement.  The house is a large bungalow style home, with the woodsy design elements of a Swiss chalet.

From the ADG Jobsite

Install in progress at an auto museum in Ohio…

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by Gerald Olesker, CEO, ADG

 

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A USC Architectural ‘Whodunit’

Most folks love a good mystery! A twisting, turning plot that gets more complicated at every turn. Details become more blurred and facts become elusive in the best mystery. Now, the plot thickens around a story that involves USC, Samuel and Harriet Freeman and the work of Frank Lloyd Wright and Rudolph Schindler.

Samuel and Harriet Freeman commissioned Wright to design their home in the Hollywood Hills into an epic showplace for them. Wright did just that! He designed a breathtaking home and ringed the living room with tall windows that provided stunning views of Highland Avenue and the surrounding hills. Among the furnishings he designed for the home were six-foot tall iron lamps. Later, Schindler added his touches to the residence with his own unique furnishings. Samuel died in 1981 and Harriet passed in 1986. Their luxurious home and furnishings were left to the USC School of Architecture, trusting they would treasure the property as a site for meetings, classes and historic preservation.  Ah, the best-laid plans!

Over the years, USC School of Architecture quickly found out the true expense of maintaining and preserving this treasure and its contents. In 1994, the home was severely damaged in the Northridge Earthquake. It took over eight years to secure $1 million dollars from FEMA for the restoration work. In 2000, USC secured a warehouse with a large open space and one lockable storage room. The contents of the home were moved into storage and the lamps and sofa were locked into the smaller storage space. For 10 years, the contents sat in storage, sometimes glimpsed by USC faculty, staff and students. The plot thickens!

In 2012, USC staffers noticed the lamps and sofa missing. There was only one key in existence and no signs of forced entry or vandalism. Despite the obvious value of the items taken, no one at USC filed a report with campus police, LAPD or the university’s insurance carriers. Talk of the theft circulated among some at the architecture school, but few outsiders had any knowledge. Ultimately, someone with some intimate knowledge of the theft sent an anonymous email to the LA Times tipping them off. The Times worked with USC on the information and the school found enough validity in the information to finally formally report and investigate the crime. USC Police reported the incident to the LAPD in mid-January for investigation.

Now that the investigation is in the appropriate hands, this incident has created a great deal of concern for USC, the USC School of Architecture and the architecture community at large. The value of the missing items is considerable and classify this incident as a felony. It is the hope of most professionals that the items are recovered and returned to a restored property that pays respect to Samuel and Harriet Freeman, along with Wright and Schindler. The question remains — Whodunit?

From the ADG Factory Floor

 Customized LED color change lens installed into ring pendant…

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by Gerald Olesker, CEO, ADG Lighting