Modern architecture in Los Angeles is very hard to define. Due to the eclectic nature of our city many modernist movements have occurred and experimentation and individualism has run rampant much to our benefit. We’ve also been fortunate to have some of the greatest modern architects working in our city. Frank Lloyd Wright certainly has had a lasting impact since his work began in Los Angeles in the 1920’s where his homes include the iconic Hollyhock House and Ennis House. In California, Wright started using his “textile” concrete blocks out of his desire to use machine-age production with organic architecture. This philosophy can be seen in most of the modernist Los Angeles architecture up until this day.
Post World War II, Mid-Century Modern established itself in Southern California. It was a movement to create low cost housing with modern materials not available during the war with a goal of blurring indoor and outdoor spaces.
In the 70’s a new modern movement developed to show off high tech materials and make them the center point of the aesthetic. This style is known as High-Tech architecture or Late Modernism. To know exactly what I’m talking about, you only have to look at the Pompidou Centre in Paris. This movement had a big influence on homes and buildings in Los Angeles. The Schulitz House built in 1977 by Helmut Schulitz in Beverly Hills is a great example. It’s not difficult to see the influence of the Charles and Ray Eames’ Case Study House in this one.
Modern day Los Angeles architects have a rich history to borrow from as exemplified by our most famous modern architect – Frank Gehry. Gehry originally from Toronto moved to Los Angeles in the late 40’s and graduated from USC’s school of architecture where many of the earlier great architects attended or taught. Gehry’s work has some Postmodern attributes along with his contemporaries such as Eric Owen Moss and Thom Mayne. While still showcasing industrial building materials of earlier modern styles, their style includes more sweeping shapes and ornamentation than earlier styles.
We’re also very fortunate to live in such a big city where non-residential modern construction goes on with incredible examples such as The Getty Center, Downtown Disney Hall and The Pacific Design Center.