Los Angeles structure: An illustrated information
Googie. Mission Revival. Midcentury modern. Eastlake Victorian. Chateauesque. Streamline Modern. Art deco. Spanish. Spanish-Moorish. Spanish colonial revival. Monterey Colonial Revival. Churrigueresque. Beaux-Arts. Hollywood Regency. Which city offers a more diverse architecture than Los Angeles?
Here is a guide to 16 styles you may encounter in town on any given day.
The word “Victorian” actually refers to an era, the reign of Queen Victoria, which lasted from 1837 to 1901 and encompasses a variety of styles. The styles prevalent in neighborhoods like Angelino Heights or West Adams today include Queen Anne, Eastlake and Folk – or a combination of several styles.
Notable practitioners: Joseph Cather Newsom; Friedrich Roehrig
How to Identify:
Queen Anne: Queen Annes is the most exuberant of all Victorian styles. It’s asymmetrical and often features towers and spiers, round or octagonal rooms, intricate spindle work, fish-scale siding, and patterned brickwork.
Eastlake: Eastlake structures are one- to two-story, have steeply sloping roofs with gables, rectangular windows, decorative brackets, ornate cladding of curved wood, and curved wooden arches over the entrances.
People: Folk Victorians, generally symmetrical and relatively plain houses for the working and middle classes, were built using layout books published by architectural firms. Their features include gable roofs and verandas decorated with ready-made cladding.
The Arts and Crafts movement, which originated in England, emphasized the unity with nature and valuable handcrafted details via the cheap mass production of the industrial revolution. The hallmarks of the Craftsman bungalows include low roof lines, gable or hipped roofs, overhanging eaves, shaded verandas, extensive woodwork, double-hanging windows, and batchelder brick chimneys.
Notable practitioners: Charles and Henry Greene; Ernest Batchelder; Arthur and Alfred Heineman
3. Fine arts
Beaux Arts is a classic style seen in the downtown temples of finance, commerce, and law, and is shaped by Greco-Roman elements: columns, arches, vaults, and domes. The buildings were constructed from high quality materials such as limestone, while their interiors were impressed with marble, mahogany, alabaster, terrazzo, bronze and brass. Exterior decorations include bas-relief sculptures and glazed terracotta tiles.
Notable practitioners: John and Donald Parkinson; Walker and iron; Curlett and Beelman; Gordon S. Kaufmann
4. Revival of the mission
Influenced by the Franciscan missions in Alta, California, these buildings feature low roofs with red clay tiles, simple stucco facades, mission-style arches and parapets.
Notable practitioners: Arthur Benton; Arthur Page Brown; John Byers
5. Revival of the Spanish colonial era
Became Southern California’s premier architectural style after the Panama-California Exposition of 1915-1917. To house the exhibition in San Diego, architects Bertram Goodhue and Carleton Winslow designed a campus with buildings that combined elements of Mission Revival, Mexican, Spanish Baroque / Churrigueresque and Islamic styles. This unique preparation was a resounding success, and soon houses with low red-tile roofs, courtyards, white stucco walls with rounded corners, painted tiles, wrought-iron accents, and arched windows and doors became a ubiquitous sight.
Notable practitioners: Elmer Gray; Myron Hunt; Wallace Neff; Reginald Johnson; George Washington Smith; Paul R. Williams
Different variations of Spanish-style architecture add to the unique taste of our local landscape. How to identify them:
Spanish-Moorish: Characteristic elements of this style include horseshoe or ogee arches, decorative stones and wood with geometric or floral motifs, and decorative tiles such as those seen in Malibu’s Adamson House, the Andalusian apartments in West Hollywood, and the Shrine Auditorium .
Notable practitioners: John C. Austin; Stiles O. Clements; Arthur and Nina Zwebell.
Monterey Colonial Revival: The homes in the Monterey Revival are a mix of Mexican, New England Colonial, and Spanish styles. They are two-story, with porches on the second floor with wooden railings, plaster or thick stucco walls, and blinds (though these are often pinned).
Notable practitioners: Roland Coate; Marston, Van Pelt and Maybury; Reginald D. Johnson
The Churrigueresque architecture, named after the Spanish architect José Benito de Churriguera from the 18th century, is characterized by extremely extravagant sculptural ornamentation. The detailed and structured stucco work of Churrigueresque buildings is designed to impress the viewer and often features broken gables, inverted columns, scrolls, garlands, and curved surfaces layer by layer. LA’s take on the theatrical style can be seen at St. Vincent de Paul Church in West Adams, the Million Dollar Theater downtown, and Chapman Plaza in Koreatown.
Notable practitioners: Albert C. Martin; Stiles O. Clements
While Southern California is rich in architectural variation, googie – an example of the collision between car culture and the jet-age futurism that flourished after World War II – is arguably the region’s signature style. Cantilevered roofs, starbursts and hard angles are themes in Googie architecture. Googie designs were geared towards grabbing drivers’ attention and enticing them to slow down and get in. Googie held onto the post-war high that made people feel like the future is now and they live in it. Over time, Googie reflected on the 1950s and 1960s view of what “the future” meant.
Notable practitioners: Armet and Davis; Martin Stern, Jr .; John Lautner; Pereira and staff
8. Bungalow meals
This type of multi-family rental, in which a group of small, free-standing buildings are grouped around a central communal courtyard, was introduced by Pasadena architect Sylvanus Marston in 1909 and was soon rebuilt across Southland in a variety of architectural styles. Their heyday was shortened by World War II, after which higher-density residential buildings became the preferred model.
Nowadays there are only about 350 vintage bungalow spaces left, with these holdouts increasingly threatened by rising property values. Since the city’s adoption of the Small Lot Regulation in 2005, its today’s counterparts have emerged like weeds. One key difference, however, is that today’s units are for sale, not for rent.
Notable practitioners: Arthur and Alfred Heineman; Arthur and Nina Zwebell
Shaped by Hollywood fantasies and fairy tales, the Storybook Homes feature steep thatched roofs – some with undulating clapboard patterns – towers, dovecotes, stained glass, half-timbering, and other quirky Old World details.
Notable practitioners: Ben Sherwood; Meyer and Holler; Harry Oliver
10. Chateauesque / French Normandy
The chateauesque style is loosely based on the architecture of 16th-century French castles in the Loire Valley and became very chic in Los Angeles in the 1920s thanks to its imagination, aristocratic associations and, last but not least, the advances in veneer cladding techniques that approached that Appearance of expensive masonry. Identifying features include steeply sloping roof lines, towers, battlements, spiers, gables, shaped chimneys, dormers, and round or Gothic archways.
Notable practitioners: Leland Bryant; William Douglas Lee; Percy Parke Lewis; John DeLario
11th Georgian Revival
The Georgian Revival homes are primarily located in Bel Air, Hancock Park, Brentwood, and West Adams and are typically two story. They have a rectangular shape, a hipped or gable roof and a symmetrical facade. Other telltale attributes: a main entrance with a gable pavilion supported by pilasters or columns, double-hanging sash windows and Palladian windows.
Notable practitioners: Paul R. Williams; Roland Coate; Gordon S. Kaufmann
12. Art Deco
Art Deco raised its beautiful head in Los Angeles after the Exposition des Arts Decoratifs in Paris in 1925. Deco buildings are made of smooth building materials such as stucco, concrete block and glazed brick and appear elegant and linear. Further distinguishing features are a recessed facade, the cutting back or grooves around doors and windows, steps with trays and lavish decorations with ziggurats, chevrons and other geometric shapes, intense colors as well as Egyptian, Indian and other “exotic” motifs.
Notable practitioners: Claud Beelman; Leland Bryant; John and Donald Parkinson
Streamline Moderne buildings are a relatively ephemeral style, paying homage to the spirit of progress and travel by borrowing the aerodynamic curves of the luxury trains, planes, and ocean liners of the 1930s. Steel ribbon casement windows, portholes, curved railings and chrome accents are part of the everyday language.
Notable practitioners: William Kesling; Milton Black; Clarence Smale
14. Hollywood Regency
Hollywood Regency was popularized by architect John Elgin Woolf and features examples from 19th century French, Greek Revival and Modernist styles with a healthy dose of Tinseltown glamor. The defining features include classic symmetry, mansard roofs, oversized Pullman doors, curved stairs, ornate moldings, oval windows and pavilions.
Notable practitioners: Roland Coate; Paul R. Williams; John Elgin Woolf
15. Midcentury Modern
After World War II, Los Angeles faced a housing shortage like never before seen. In response, the architects of the time, many of whom were trained at USC, developed and advocated a style of living that could be mass-produced relatively quickly using inexpensive materials. These houses exude post-war optimism with clean lines, post-and-beam constructions, open plans, windows and glass walls that emphasize the connection between inside and outside 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
Postmodernism rose from the 1980s to 2000s and gave the austere minimalism of modernity a cheeky look by flaunting irregular, fragmentary shapes, bold colors, and visually appealing building materials.
Notable practitioners: Frank Gehry; Roy McMakin; John Portman