Pandora's Box Of '60s Architecture - Page 3

Preservationists reflect on ten months of 'The Sixties Turn 50' while promoting greater Los Angeles' architecture of the era

• First place - Ecclesiastical
SEPULVEDA UNITARIAN UNIVERSALIST SOCIETY, North Hills
(Frank Ehrenthal, 1964)
This church sanctuary is known as 'the Onion' for its unique, bulbous form. The contoured wood-beam building features a circular shape with a flat point at the highest peak of the roof, resembling the tapered end of a giant onion.

• First place - Residential
KRAMER HOUSE, Granada Hills
(Art Davis & Associates, 1966)
A particularly distinctive and intact example of the modern Ranch style, this home is filled with popular architectural elements from the 1960s, including dual 'glacier rock' chimneys, terrazzo floors, and a sunken living room 'conversation pit.'

• First place - Industrial
FRIEND PAPER BUILDING, Pasadena
(Whitney R. Smith & Wayne R. Williams, 1965)
Designed in the New Formalist style, a union of Classicism and Modernism, this building sports an accordion-pleated metal roof that cantilevers over six bays of floor-to-ceiling windows.

• First place - Cultural Site
THE WHISKY A GO-GO, West Hollywood)
(Paul Bateman, 1938)
The Whisky a Go-Go (which opened in 1964) pioneered the discotheque-style nightclub along the Sunset Strip, with suspended cages above the dance floor holding dancing 'go-go girls.' The Whisky has hosted a 'who's who' of music acts, from the Byrds, to Otis Redding, to the Doors.

sea creature la laguna de san gabriel

• First place - Cultural Landscape
LA LAGUNA DE SAN GABRIEL, San Gabriel
(Benjamin Dominguez, 1965)
Handcrafted by master concrete artist Benjamin Dominguez, this beloved 'lagoon' of whimsical sea creatures was threatened with demolition in 2006. The community rallied to save it; now it's a model for preserving mid-century playgrounds.


UPDATE: Columbia Savings Building

columbia savings

When 'The Sixties Turn 50' was introduced here in the fall 2009, the 1965 Columbia Savings Building on Los Angeles' 'Miracle Mile' was threatened with demolition. Tragically, the building was razed in January 2010 despite an intensive preservation effort.

Created by architect Irving Shapiro, the Columbia Savings Building's design reinterpreted the classically inspired banks of the turn-of-the-twentieth century. It integrated notable works of abstract art, including a 45-foot-long brass screen-waterfall sculptural fountain and a 1,300-square-foot dalle-de-verre stained-glass skylight.

Having more recently served as a Korean church, the building was proposed for demolition in 2008 as part of a massive mixed-use redevelopment project. The Los Angeles Conservancy fought the demolition for more than a year, illustrating the building's significance and nominating it for state landmark designation. Nonetheless, the project was pushed through the approval process, with decision makers saying they "just didn't get" the building's importance.

When it became clear that the City would approve the project, the Conservancy urged that the developer be required to at least obtain building permits for the new project before demolishing the Columbia Savings Building. Their request was denied.

The Los Angeles City Council approved the project the morning of December 4, 2009. The building's demolition began hours later. The entire block was cleared and now sits vacant for the foreseeable future.


UPDATE: Century Plaza Hotel

century plaza

The Los Angeles Conservancy, the National Trust for Historic Preservation, and Next Century Associates (NCA) announced plans in February 2010 to preserve the 1966 Century Plaza Hotel in Century City. NCA, the building's owner, had proposed in 2008 to demolish the hotel and replace it with a mixed-use development including a boutique hotel, condominiums, retail, restaurants, offices, and open space.

The Conservancy responded with a range of efforts, including building broad public support for the hotel's preservation, making it a campaign issue in the local City Council election, and successfully nominating the building for listing by the National Trust for Historic Preservation as one of America's '11 Most Endangered Historic Places' for 2009.