Los Angeles City Hall.
Los Angeles City Hall.
Eastern Columbia Building.
John and Donald Parkinson, 1929
High-end department stores have dwindled, Westlake is no longer the lap of luxury and the copper turret on the Bullocks Wilshire has since tarnished green—but none of that diminishes the elegance of this Art Deco landmark. It was a department store built for the car, and even though its cash registers have been shut for two decades (now it's a law school), its poise and strong vertical lines still catch motorists’ eyes.
Pierre Koenig, 1960
Even if you’ve never seen it in person, you’ll undoubtedly recognize the Stahl House (Case Study House #22 for you modernist fanatics) and its twinkly vista. There’s barely more to it than a roof, floor-to-ceiling windows and a swimming pool, but the Hollywood Hills house emits that magic that so many of us have found—or spend our lives chasing—in Los Angeles.
A.C. Martin & Associates, 1965
The Department of Water and Power’s headquarters feels light, as if the entire building is floating. It practically is; the entire office is surrounded by a fountain-dotted moat. The building especially shines at night, when its two most stunning features—running water and clean light—remind us of the miracle that this natural resource-hungry city can even exist.
Charles and Ray Eames, Eero Saarinen, 1949
Designing couple Charles and Ray Eames were known for their intelligence and their joie de vivre, both of which are apparent at the Eames House (Case Study House #8) nestled in the Pacific Palisades. With its color-block exterior, environmentally-sensitive siting and impeccable interior style, it’s no surprise this modernist darling has remained one of Southern California’s most beloved residences.
Austin Parkinson and Martin, 1928
Though dwarfed in size by its contemporary neighbors, this grand, white concrete tower has stood tall as a city icon since 1928. Say what you will about the city government, but the building itself is dignified but never flashy—a noble goal in LA. Its beauty is visible both inside and out, from the stately Spring Street courtyard to the tiled third floor rotunda, but we think it’s best experienced from above: The free observation deck on the 27th floor is an asset.
Claud Beelman, 1930
As Broadway continues to bounce back, the Eastern Columbia Building stands as a reminder that the Downtown street has always been beautiful. The stunning Art Deco tower never seemed to make its way into LA iconography, but since a major 2004 renovation its become a beloved landmark for Angelenos. The turquoise finish, terra cotta sunburst over the entrance and the blue glow of the clock tower are all headturners.
George Wyman, Sumner Hunt, 1893
The Bradbury Building's nondescript (but still good-looking) brick exterior belies any sense of significance—a Sprint store and the lingering smell of Subway don't exactly scream "architectural gem." Walk through the archway entrance on Broadway, though, and you're greeted with a stunning, light-flooded alley of wood, iron and brick. From the amber glow to the wrought-iron grillwork, that first glimpse inside is simply awe-inspiring.
John C. Austin, Frederick M. Ashley, 1933
"If all mankind could look through that telescope," declared Griffith J. Griffith, "it would change the world." We think a simple trip to the hilltop scientific sanctuary is enough to do the trick; the dignified building exudes quiet and calm as Los Angeles twinkles below. Back at ground level, the illuminated white building and its trio of copper-clad domes is an inspirational landmark—what other modern metropolis can boast an observatory as a focal point of its skyline?
Frank Gehry, 2003
As the $274-million acoustically perfect crown jewel of the LA Music Center, Disney Hall opened in 2003 to rave reviews. The novelty hasn't yet worn off: both inside and out, it’s a twisty explosion of Frank Gehry’s imagination. Stroll through the Blue Ribbon Garden as it hugs the reflective metallic exterior or listen to the LA Phil in the whimsically wooden auditorium; the Disney Hall dazzles in every way imaginable.
John & Donald B. Parkinson, 1939
Union Station was the last of the great American rail stations to be built, at a cost at the time of $11 million. Train travel has gone in and out of fashion, but the station is just as handsome as the day it opened: its Mission-style exterior opens up into a grand waiting area with marble tiles, faux wood beam ceilings and Art Deco touches. For a city built around the car, Union Station feels like the most distinctly and classically Californian gateway to Los Angeles. Wander through its halls and courtyards and you’ll find a building rich with history, locomotion and—with the coming of high speed rail and a new concourse—progress.
RECOMMENDED: A love letter to Union Station