Design and Architecture

Los Angeles Architecture Virtual Tour: 7 Landmarks

by Roy Akirov
September, 2021

Los Angeles architecture is really something else. It is so diverse and unique that you definitely need a Los Angeles architecture tour. Nevertheless, it’s still a pandemic, so how about a virtual one?

LA has always been a sort of microcosm of whim, experimentalism, authenticity, and a charming sense of goofiness here and there. From Googie architecture to Victorian style, Spanish-Moorish, Tudor or Cape Cod Style Homes, it’s time to take you on a virtual LA architecture tour.

1. Los Angeles Architecture First Stop: Victorian Style

Victorian-style homes can trigger some powerful emotions. Simply put, you can either love them or leave them.

Victorian house

The very term “Victorian” refers to Queen Victoria’s reign, which lasted from 1837 to 1901. So, the vast majority of Los Angeles Victorian-style homes are built in the 1800s. So, they’re very old. You usually find them in Angelino Heights or West Adams neighbourhoods.

There are quite a lot of Victorian styles, or “sub-styles”. The most prominent are:

Some LA Victorian Gems

Look for The Magic Castle, completed in 1909 by architects Lyman Farwell and Oliver Dennis.

It towers Franklin Avenue like a Magician, and it actually is the magicians’ clubhouse. Since 1963, the Magic Castle has served as home for an exclusive society of magicians. Care to join?

2. The Craftsman Style

Craftsman houses are a bit spooky, and they look heavy. The exteriors would often consist of extensive woodwork, stoned porch piers, double-hung windows, low-pitched roofs. The interiors would feature those Batchelder tile fireplaces that are just too much.

The Craftsman Style originated from the mid-19th century British Arts and Crafts movement.

The Arts and Crafts movement was a reaction against the machinery and factory production of the Industrial Revolution.

Some LA Craftsman Gems

Check out the Gamble House in Southern California, completed in 1908 by architects Greene and Greene. You will see a lot of “sleeping porches” there!

3. The Los Angeles Architecture in Spanish Colonial Revival

Spanish Architecture did take on in Los Angeles between 1915-1917. That is when the renowned Panama-California Exposition took place. The buildings that housed the exposition were created in a blend of Mission Revival, Mexican, Spanish Baroque and Islamic styles. It was a hit!

Soon, houses with low-pitched red tile roofs, beautiful Spanish courtyards, and white stucco walls appeared in Los Angeles.

Furthermore, Spanish Colonial Revival Architecture takes several shapes:

Some LA Spanish Architecture Gems

So, you should check the Adamson House Museum in Malibu first. Then, go to the Andalusia Apartments in West Hollywood. Last but not least, visit the Shrine Auditorium and Expo Hall in LA.

As for hidden gems, go visit the Avila Adobe. It is a symbolic landmark of Spanish colonial architecture.

4. The French Chateauesque Style

French homes are particularly elegant and refined in their symmetrical proportions. They usually have steep roofs. Brick is predominant.

This French Chateauesque style became quite trendy in LA in the 20s. It was attractive, especially for those in love with the aristocratic associations of spires, pinnacles, turrets, high chimneys, and round archways. So, are you one? If yes, here’s what you should check out in LA!

Some LA French Architecture Gems

If French is your style, you will love the French Chateau from Hancock Park. Those grey and blue tones are lovely. In fact, the whole mansion has such perfect symmetry! It is so pleasing to look at it. So, give it a try!

5. Art Deco in Los Angeles Architecture

Art Deco houses are usually made of stucco concrete blocks and bricks. They are sleek, linear, and very satisfying to look at from a geometric perspective.

Furthermore, the most defining characteristics of Art Deco homes are stepped-tray ceilings and setback facades. Fluting around doors, ziggurats, chevrons or geometric ornamentation shouldn’t be ignored. Last but not least, those lively colours and motifs will always give away an art deco building.

So, there’s just no way you can hate Art Deco!

Some LA Art Deco Gems

The Bullocks Wilshire, located at 3050 Wilshire Boulevard, is LA’s Art Deco staple. Take a walk around it and look closely at those windows, that geometric symmetry. Look at it from different angles. You’ll love it. So, shall we move on to the next one? We’re nearing the end of our virtual Los Angeles Architecture tour.

6. Hollywood Regency Style

This Los Angeles Architecture model borrows from the 19th century Greek and French Revivals, mixing it with modernist style and some Tinseltown glamour.

So, wondering which are the most defining characteristics of Hollywood Regency Style? Look out for mansard roofs, giant Pullman doors and intricate mouldings and pavilions with oval windows! You really can’t miss them.

7. Midcentury Modernist Los Angeles Architecture

After World War II, Los Angeles Architecture got a new breath of fresh air. The architects would build with optimism and relatively inexpensive and efficient materials.

They loved clean lines, open plans, walls of glass that would minimize the difference between indoors and outdoors.

In the 1980s and 2000s, Postmodernism would arrive. This meant a lot of irregular, fragmentary shapes, crazy colours and ideas. Truly inspiring!

Los Angeles architecture

So, what’s your favourite Los Angeles Architecture style and why?

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