Los Angeles structure: An illustrated information

googie mission revival mid-century modern. East Lake Victorian. Chateauesque. Streamline Modern. Art deco. Spanish. Spanish Moorish. Spanish Colonial Revival. Monterey Colonial Revival. Churrigueresque. Beaux Arts. Hollywood Regency. What city boasts a more diverse spread of architecture than Los Angeles?

Here’s a guide to 16 styles you may encounter around the city on any given day.

1. Victorian

The word “Victorian” actually refers to an era, the reign of Queen Victoria, which lasted from 1837 to 1901, and it encompasses a wide variety of styles. Prevalent styles found today in neighborhoods such as Angelino Heights or West Adams include Queen Anne, Eastlake and Folk—or some combination of multiple styles.
Notable practitioners: Joseph Catherine Newsom; Frederick Rohrig

How to identify:

Queen Anne: The most exuberant of all the Victorian styles, Queen Annes are asymmetrical, and often feature turrets and towers, round or octagonal rooms, elaborate spindle-work, fish-scale siding, and patterned masonry.

Eastlake: Eastlake structures are one to two stories, have steeply pitched roofs with gables, rectangular windows, decorative brackets, elaborate cladding with curved timbering, and curved wooden arches over entryways.

people: Generally symmetrical and relatively plain homes for the working and middle class, Folk Victorians were built using plan books published by architectural companies. Their features include gabled roofs and front porches embellished with prefabricated trim.

2. Craftsman

Originating in England, the Arts and Crafts movement emphasized a unity with nature and prized handmade details over the cheap mass production of the Industrial Revolution. Distinguishing traits of Craftsman bungalows include low-pitched rooflines, gabled or hipped roofs, overhanging eaves, shaded porches, extensive woodwork, double-hung windows, and batchelder tile fireplaces.
Notable practitioners: Charles and Henry Greene; Ernest Batchelder; Arthur and Alfred Heineman

3. Beaux Arts

Seen in Downtown’s temples of finance, commerce, and law, Beaux Arts is a classical style characterized by Greco-Roman elements: columns, arches, vaults, and domes. The buildings were constructed with high quality materials such as limestone, while their interiors were dressed to impress in marble, mahogany, alabaster, terrazzo, bronze, and brass. Exterior embellishments include bas-relief sculptures and glazed terra cotta tiles.
Notable practitioners: John and Donald Parkinson; walkers and irons; Curlett and Beelman; Gordon S. Kaufman

4. Mission Revival

Influenced by the Franciscan Alta California missions, these buildings feature low-pitched roofs with red clay tiles, plain stucco exteriors, arches, and mission-style parapets.
Notable practitioners: Arthur Benton; Arthur Page Brown; John Byers

5. Spanish Colonial Revival

Became Southern California’s pre-eminent architectural style in the wake of the Panama-California Exposition of 1915-1917. To house the San Diego exposition, architects Bertram Goodhue and Carleton Winslow designed a campus of buildings that blended elements of Mission Revival, Mexican, Spanish Baroque/Churrigueresque, and Islamic styles. This unique concoction was a resounding hit, and soon homes with low-pitched red tile roofs, courtyards, white stucco walls with rounded corners, painted tile, wrought-iron accents, and arched windows and doorways became a ubiquitous sight.
Notable practitioners: Elmer Grey; Myron Hunt; Wallace Neff; Reginald Johnson; George Washington Smith; Paul R Williams

Several variants of Spanish-style architecture make a contribution to the unique flavor of our local landscape. Here’s how to identify them:

Spanish Moorish: Signature elements of this style include horseshoe or ogee arches, ornamental stone and wood carved with geometric or floral motifs, and decorative tile, as seen at Malibu’s Adamson House, the Andalusia apartments in West Hollywood, and at the Shrine Auditorium.
Notable practitioners: John C Austin; Stiles O Clements; Arthur and Nina Zwebell.

Monterey Colonial Revival: A mixture of Mexican, New England Colonial, and Spanish styles, Monterey Revival homes are two stories, and feature second-floor verandas with wood railings, plaster or thick stucco walls, and louvered shutters (though these are often fixed).
Notable practitioners: Roland Coate; Marston, Van Pelt and Maybury; Reginald D Johnson

6. Churrigueresque

Named after eighteenth-century Spanish architect José Benito de Churriguera, Churrigueresque architecture is distinguished by exceedingly flamboyant sculptural ornamentation. Meant to inspire awe in the observer, the intensely detailed and textural stucco work of Churrigueresque buildings often feature broken pediments, inverted columns, scrolls, garlands, and layer upon layer of curved surfaces. LA’s interpretation of the theatrical style can be seen at St. Vincent de Paul church on West Adams, Downtown’s Million Dollar Theater, and at Chapman Plaza in Koreatown.
Notable practitioners: Albert C Martin; Stiles O Clements

7. Googie

While Southern California is rich in architectural variation, Googie—exemplifying the collision of car culture and the Jet Age futurism that bloomed after World War II—is arguably the signature style of the region. Cantilevered roofs, starbursts, and hard angles are all themes in Googie architecture. Googie designs were geared toward catching eyes of drivers, enticing them to slow down and come in. Googie captured the post-war high that made people feel that the future was now and they were living in it. As time passed, Googie came to reflect a very 1950s and ’60s view of what “the future” meant.
Notable practitioners: Armet and Davis; Martin Stern, Jr.; John Lautner; Pereira and Associates

8. Bungalow courts

This form of multifamily rental housing in which a group of small detached structures are clustered around a central communal courtyard was introduced in 1909 by Pasadena architect Sylvanus Marston, and soon replicated all over the Southland in a wide range of architectural styles. Their heyday was cut short by World War II, after which higher density apartment buildings became the preferred model.

Nowadays, only about 350 vintage bungalow courts remain, with these holdouts increasingly threatened by rising property values. However, since the city’s 2005 adoption of the Small Lot Ordinance, their modern-day counterparts have been springing up like weeds, but with one major difference being that today’s units are for sale, not rent.
Notable practitioners: Arthur and Alfred Heineman; Arthur and Nina Zwebell

9. Storybook

Steeped in Hollywood fantasy and fairy tales, Storybook homes feature steeply pitched thatched roofs—some with undulating shingle patterns—turrets, dovecotes, stained glass, half-timbering, and other whimsical Old World touches.
Notable practitioners: Ben Sherwood; Meyer and Holler; HarryOliver

10. Chateauesque/French Normandy

Loosely based on the architecture of 16th-century French chateaux in the Loire Valley, the Chateauesque style became trés chic in Los Angeles during the 1920s thanks to its fantasy appeal, aristocratic associations, and last but not least, advances in veneer cladding techniques that approximated the look of expensive masonry construction. Identifying traits include steeply pitched hipped roof lines, spires, pinnacles, turrets, gables, shaped chimneys, dormers, and round or gothic archways.
Notable practitioners: Leland Bryant; William Douglas Lee; Percy Parke Lewis; John Delario

11th Georgian Revival

Found mostly in Bel Air, Hancock Park, Brentwood, and West Adams, Georgian Revival homes are typically two stories, with a rectangular form, a hipped or gabled roof, and a symmetrical facade. Other telltale attributes: a main entrance with a pedimented projecting pavilion supported by pilasters or columns, double-hung sash windows, and Palladian windows.
Notable practitioners: Paul R Williams; Roland Coate; Gordon S. Kaufman

12. Art Deco

Art Deco reared its lovely head in Los Angeles following the 1925 Exposition des Arts Decoratifs in Paris. Constructed of smooth-finish building materials such as stucco, concrete block, and glazed brick, Deco buildings have a sleek, linear appearance. Other identifying characteristics include a setback facade, reeding or fluting around doors and windows, stepped-tray ceilings, and lavish ornamentation employing ziggurats, chevrons, and other geometric forms, intense colors, and Egyptian, Native American, and other “exotic” motifs.
Notable practitioners: Claud Beelman; Leland Bryant; John and Donald Parkinson

13. Streamline Modern

A relatively short-lived style, Streamline Moderne buildings paid homage to the spirit of progress and travel by borrowing the aerodynamic curves of 1930s luxury trains, planes, and ocean liners. Steel-banded casement windows, portholes, curved railings, and chrome accents are all part of the vernacular.
Notable practitioners: William Kesling; Milton Black; Clarence Smale

14. Hollywood Regency

Popularized by architect John Elgin Woolf, Hollywood Regency samples from 19th century French, Greek Revival, and modernist styles, with a healthy dose of Tinseltown glamour. Defining features include classical symmetry, mansard roofs, oversize Pullman doors, curving staircases, elaborate moldings, oval windows, and pavilions.
Notable practitioners: Roland Coate; Paul R Williams; John Elgin Woolf

15. Mid-Century Modern

After World War II, Los Angeles faced a housing shortage the likes of which it had never before seen. In response, architects of the day, many of them trained at USC, developed and championed a style of home that could be built relatively quickly using inexpensive, mass-produced materials. These houses exude the optimism of the post-war era with clean lines, post-and-beam construction, open plans, clerestory windows, and walls of glass serving to emphasize a connection between indoors and out and take advantage of California’s wonderful climate.
Notable practitioners: Buff and Hensman; John Lautner; Rodney Walker; Pierre Koenig; Richard Neutra; Craig Ellwood; Cliff May

16. Postmodern

Ascending in the 1980s to 2000s, Postmodernism delivered a cheeky poke in the eye to Modernism’s austere minimalism, flaunting irregular, fragmentary shapes, bold colors, and visually arresting building materials.
Notable practitioners: Frank Gehry; Roy McMakin; John Portman

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