Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Forms of the Future Cast in Concrete

Pacific Life Building (1972) in Newport Beach, designed by William Pereira

Last week, we looked at some paintings of the Theme Building at LAX. This brought to my mind other buildings that the architect, William Pereira, has created across the Southland.

Over the course of the last month, I've come across a few of Pereira's works. None are as awesome as the Theme Building, but they are classics of mid-century modernism, embodying a futuristic aesthetic, stretching up into the sky like science fiction ziggurats. The Pacific Life Building, which is across the street from the Orange County Museum of Art, is one of my favorites, as its inverted pyramidal form seems to defy gravity.

Of course, buildings rarely remain unaltered in Los Angeles. This is the situation with two of the structures in today's post.

Ahmanson Building at the LA County Museum of Art (1965) 

When the LACMA campus was originally designed by William Pereira, the buildings were intended to loom over a series of reflecting pools, like rising islands of art. Although decades of renovation and expansion have built over the pools, the upward, vertical sense of emergence is still perceptible in the lines of the Ahmanson Building.

The old Robinson's Building on Colorado blvd in Pasadena has also undergone some changes, but mainly in the interior as it has become the Target store. Pereira's monolith of modernity still stands out in downtown Pasadena even over half a century later.

Pasadena Target building (1951) by William Pereira, originally the Robinson's department store.

Target promenade parallels Colorado Blvd

Pereira utilized various horizontal lines to create a sense of "dynamic stability"

The Toyota Building in Torrance is among his later works, but it shares that signature sense of linear movement and complex tiers of space. I hear that the interior is awesome, but, sadly, it's private property and I can't just stroll in to snap some photos. ;-)

Toyota Building (1977) in Torrance, designed by William Pereira

Engaging the surface and drawing the sight along receding lines are Pereira techniques

One of the overlooked benefits to living in Los Angeles is the fact that we daily travel past architectural masterpieces. Here's a small attempt to share the beauty of my city with you all. :-)

And here's a vid on another regional Pereira building:


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