Irving Gill, Homer Laughlin and the Beginnings of Trendy Structure in Los Angeles | Information
Front elevation and pergola, Paul Miltimore House, 1302 S. Chelton Way, South Pasadena. Photo by John Crosse, February 2015.
If you think architecture has a dense web of characters and influences now, read So. Cal’s arch historian John Crosse’s account of the development of modernism in Los Angeles, going all the way to Adler & Sullivan’s prestigious office in the Auditorium Building in Chicago.
Front elevation, George Steckel Residence, Normandy Ave. near 4th St., Los Angeles, 1910. Courtesy of UC-Santa Barbara Architecture and Design Collections, Irving Gill Archive.
“The evolution of modernism in Los Angeles architecture can arguably be traced back to the Auditorium Building offices of Adler & Sullivan in the early 1890s. The Auditorium Building was Adler & Sullivan’s crowning achievement and met with rave reviews in the local and national press and trade journals as setting the bar for buildings of its typology upon its completion 1889-90.The now famous partners and their chief draftsman Frank Lloyd Wright excitedly moved their offices into their masterpiece of engineering and interior design’s tower penthouse as the congratulatory accolades flowed over them. ”
“Hey [Gill] might never have moved from Chicago to the West Coast if he had not had an unfortunate collision with Frank Lloyd Wright. Gill was so indiscreet, so Wright tells us, as to show up for work sporting the hair-do and the flowing black tie which the future lord of “Taliesin” had made very much his own. “This had been the case with others often enough, “Wright tells us, “‘but in this instance the affair suddenly seemed to me more like caricature. I regarded him for a moment and said, ‘Gill, for Christ’s sake, get your haircut.’ “The common enough exhortation, to which I have myself been subjected in nearly every province of the United States, which was not pleasantly said. Gill was as rank an individualist as I, and he quit then and there. But his individual character came out to good purpose.” in the good work he did later in San Diego and Los Angeles His work was a kind of elimination which if coupled with a finer sense of proportion would have been – I think it was, anyway – a real contribution to our so-called modern movements.”
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