LOS ANGELES TIMES
Thursday July 07, 2005
Landscape of constant change
The architectural history of the Southern California home is far too rich, innovative and colorful a narrative to fit neatly onto one newspaper page, but the following timeline gathers a variety of important milestones -- beginning with the establishment of the pueblo of Los Angeles in 1781 and continuing through the current-day designs of Frank Gehry and Thom Mayne -- into a quick retelling of a fascinating tale.
1781: Pueblo of
1840-60s: Latinos and whites discard the popular one- and two-story adobe style and turn to wood construction, masonry, and to styles from the East Coast and
1880s: Mission style, a symbolic attack on
1891: Mission Revival or
1894: Charles Lummis and other celebrants of Spanish-Mexican culture establish the California Landmarks Club to preserve and restore Catholic mission churches.
1900-15: Rise of the American Craftsman movement in Southern California (alongside
1900-36: Peak years of Irving Gill, an architect associated with the Spanish and Craftsman styles and considered by many to be an early homegrown Modernist. Gill often utilizes the indoor-outdoor space of the pergola. His Dodge House (1916), considered by many to be the first truly modern home in
1905, into the 1920s: Rise of the bungalow and bungalow court, a one- or one-and-a-half-story, single-family home set in a garden. The original idea was to have all activity on first floor, but Southland architects cheated and added kids' space upstairs. In 1911, architect Sylvanus Marston unveils
1907 and on: Beaux Arts movement. East Coast designers such as Stiles Clements, trained in the Parisian-derived Beaux Arts model, are drawn to the Southland's architectural landscape and population boom.
1909: Frank Lloyd Wright begins his
1917-22: Wright's Barnsdall House (Hollyhock House). A variation on his earlier Prairie style into which he inserted Mayan and Zapotec detail, patios and pergolas -- Wright's attempt to forge a whole new style known as "California Romanza."
1920: Planning Commission established for the
1920s: Spanish Colonial Revival (more broadly: Mediterranean Revival) reflected romance of
1920s: Frank Lloyd Wright's ideas draw R.M. Schindler and Richard J. Neutra to
1922: Schindler's house built on
1922-26: Schindler builds Lovell Beach House in
1923-24: Wright continued using pre-Columbian stylings in his concrete block houses, ranging from the Millard House ('23) in Pasadena to the Ennis House ('24).
1926: Sowden House by Lloyd Wright (son of Frank). Lloyd begins as a landscape designer before expanding into architecture.
1920s: Population boom imbues
1920s-70: Neutra is perhaps the most influential modern architect in
1930s: Depression. Architecture curtailed; notable exception: Classical (PWA) Moderne buildings -- mostly government buildings and theaters, and some houses along
End of the 1930s: Cliff May and others develop the California Ranch house, a combination of traditionalist and Modernist modes that would dominate not only Southern California but America after World War II.
1930s: Modernism flourishes. Schindler, Neutra and Lloyd Wright lead the charge, joined by the European expatriates Kem Weber, J.R. Davidson, and Paul Laszlo. By the mid-'30s, a younger contingent emerges: Harwell H. Harris, Gregory Ain, Raphael S. Soriano, Whitney R. Smith, Wayne Williams, A. Quincy Jones, Richard Lind and John Lautner.
1939-45: By end of '42,
1941: Wallace Neff continues to work on issues of low-cost housing, designing his igloo-shaped, reinforced concrete Bubble House.
1945-on: Postwar economy and influx of returning veterans stimulates a building boom, mostly of tract housing, in the San Fernando Valley and east toward San Bernardino.
1945-60, on: Smith, Williams, Harris and Jones steer the International Style Modern in a mellow, woodsy direction, sometimes referred to as "soft" or "organic" Modernism.
1945-60: John Entenza and his magazine California Arts and Architecture bring the Modernist aesthetic to the masses. Is the general population interested in the glass-and-steel designs a la Neutra, Soriano, Ain, Davidson, Craig Ellwood, Pierre Koenig and Charles and Ray Eames (who used more prefab materials)? The first six Case Study houses receive 368,554 visitors.
1950s-60s: Crushed by taxes and disinterest, important works by prominent architects are bought by developers, the houses destroyed and the land subdivided, including the Cord estate by Williams and the Otto English estate by Carleton Winslow.
1960s and on: Large developers build "residential communities" on vast, open land holdings utilizing revivalist motifs grafted onto the modest California Ranch house.
1960: Esther McCoy's "Five California Architects" puts
1962-today: Frank O. Gehry uses commonplace materials such as exposed wood studs. See his
1965: First edition of David Gebhard and Robert Winter's "A Guide to Architecture in
1970: Paige Rense takes over as editor-in-chief of L.A.-based Architectural Digest. The magazine grows from a supermarket giveaway (circulation 50,000) to the leading interior design and architecture magazine (circulation 820,000).
1970s: Architect Charles Moore expands consideration of the stucco box traditions in
1972: Southern California Institute of Architecture (Sci-Arc) founded by Ray Kappe along with a small number of students, including Michael Rotondi and Thom Mayne.
Mid-1970s: Booming population, traffic, smog and water shortages inspire a surge in city planning. Historic preservation of everything from Victorian architecture of the late 19th century to '30s Streamline Moderne becomes a cause celebre.
1970s: Before Cesar Pelli leaves
1970s-90s: A new generation of architects addresses both Modernist and post-Modernist issues in residential projects, including Frederick Fisher (Caplin House, 1978), Mayne, Eric Owen Moss (708 House, 1982), Hodgetts + Fung, and Frank Israel (Goldberg/Bean House 1991).
2004, on: Interplay of
2005: Mayne awarded the Pritzker Prize for lifetime achievement in architecture. He is the second
Sources: Sam Watters, instructor in the USC School of Architecture who is writing a book on