Episode 114: Los Angeles Architectural Preservation

The City of Los Angeles was founded in 1781 and incorporated in 1850. In the years since the city’s founding, Los Angeles has continually reinvented itself, some would say, to a fault. When it comes to architecture and design in Los Angeles, we have always been considered a huge blank canvas, a design lab of sorts. Los Angeles architecture was built on names like; Welton Becket whose iconic works include Capitol Records (56), Parker Center (55), LAX (59) The Music Center (64-67), Claude Beelman, who brought Art Deco and Moderne movements to LA with works like The Standard (55) The Los Angeles Jewelry Center and The Union Bank Center, (later called the Getty Oil HQ and now The Mercury Building). From iconic buildings of industry, came mid-century modern design from architects like Richard Dorman. Dorman was part of Beckets firm until he left in 56 to create some amazing residential design in the city. How is this for a list of notables also adding to the Los Angeles landscape: Neutra, Fickett, Schindler, Gehry, Koenig, Lautner and Frank Lloyd Wright. Groundbreaking women like Greta Grossman and Helen Fong brought their unique perspectives and accomplished much in a male dominated profession. So, why the history lesson? Because much of LA’s notable architecture is being torn down to make way for newer ideas in architecture. Not that that is ALL bad, but when you lose iconic architecture strictly for the sake of a bigger structure, there is something wrong. the idea that architecture has to be temporary is a flawed concept. The Hollywood Hotel, Wallace Neff’s PickFair, Myron Hunt and later Paul Williams creation, The Ambassador Hotel, Marion Davies Beach House, The Brown Derby, The Pan Pacific Auditorium, all gone. What is also going away are Eicklers, Neffs and Schindlers. Iconic architecture in the form of residential homes lost, more every year. So you get it… meet Ken Bernstein. Ken is the manager and principle city planner for the the Historical Preservation Office of the City of Los Angeles. I sat down with Ken at his office in LA’s City Hall, another fantastic structure to discuss the state of historical architecture in LA. Things are happening to help preserve the architecturally relevant structures in the city. Some of these stories are great and you can also hear how to locate some of these gems in the city.