Los Angeles is always associated with movie stars, rock stars, beautiful people, and majestic natural sites. It’s uncommon to hear of LA as a popular architectural destination. And yet, Los Angeles concentrates some of the best architectural landmarks in the world, especially as symbols of United States architecture. It has plenty to boast about: from Art Deco buildings, many of which have been torn down, to postmodern architecture, and even several houses by Frank Lloyd Wright, the celebrated architect whose work around the world recently made it to the World Heritage Sites list. We’ve curated photos of some of the most beautiful and stunning buildings in LA, so here’s a list of 28 photos that prove LA is a travel destination for history buffs.
The Broad Museum
@thebroadmuseumThe Broad Museum opened in 2015, located right in the heart of the city on the northernmost section of Downtown LA, right next to the MOCA, another architectural masterpiece by Arata Isozaki. This new museum houses contemporary art, most famously, art by artists Jean-Michel Basquiat, Yayoi Kusama, and Jeff Koons. The building itself is worthwhile, and it will provide travelers with many photo-ops, so if you find yourself in DTLA, definitely take a look.
Walt Disney Concert Hall
@laphilA jewel by Frank Gehry, the Walt Disney Concert Hall is another building located in DTLA home to the LA Philharmonic. The project began when Walt Disney’s widow, Lillian Disney, donated $50 million for its construction. It features an impressive facade made from stainless steel panels and some polished mirror-like panels. Problem? LA is a hot place, so imagine a massive mirror-like construction reflecting the sun’s light directly at the surrounding buildings. Luckily however, they solved this by sanding the panels to get rid of the glare. Funny, right? But the building’s construction sometimes allows for art installations of the philharmonics concerts, allowing pedestrians to watch the building actually becoming the LA Phil.
@gettymuseumThe Getty Center is only the first part of the Getty Museum, the other being the Getty Villa, a replica of Roman Villas that houses Roman art and artifacts. The Getty Center, commonly known as the Getty, reserves itself for a more modern look. The building is located in the Brentwood neighborhood of LA (far, far from Downtown), where it rises at the top of a hill, overlooking all of Los Angeles. This part of the museum features pre-20th-century European art, photographs, and a few classics like Vincent Van Gogh’s Irises.
Designed by Richard Meier, the Getty looks like a white-squared building, often recurring to swift curves, often to strict straight lines.
One Bunker Hill
@bkcdeuxfoisOne Bunker Hill is located in Downtown LA, and it’s a symbol of what LA was all about before the skyscraper craze. It was first built to be the Southern California Edison headquarters, and it was completed in 1931. Fun fact: it was one of the first buildings with an all-electric heating and cooling system in the Western United States. The building is easy to overlook as it is almost completely surrounded by two 1980s-era skyscrapers.
The building makes an extensive use of granite and limestone and terra cotta. With lots of ornamentation, the building is a monument to electricity. Check out the three figures on the exterior by sculptor Robert Merrell Gage, which depict power, light, and hydroelectricity. Then, there’s “The Apotheosis of Power,” a mural by Hugo Ballin that depicts various important physicists, including Benjamin Franklin.
The Bradbury Building
@thebradburybuildingAnother architectural landmark, the Bradbury is a 19th-century building known for its elaborate ironwork, best shown on the atrium’s staircase. The building has been featured in many movies, including Blade Runner, (500) Days of Summer, and The Artist. You can see why. Some of the materials used include, iron, terra cotta, tile, marble, and wood, and it’s all topped with a skylight that allows natural light to flow inside.
@thebradburybuildingBut for all of its grandeur, it’s the details that really get you.
@hollyhockhouseThe Hollyhock is just one of several buildings that exemplify the Mayan revival, a movement that preceded Art Deco architecture, which thrived in the United States. Frank Lloyd Wright found inspiration in this style, as we can see in the Alice Millard house, the Derby, and the Hollyhock. From afar, they don’t look like houses at all but like Mayan temples in the middle of nowhere. Some of these houses are empty, as though the building were an artwork itself, which it is. But they remain intact in time, perhaps a show of what Wright imagined we would be living in by now. Though I wouldn’t recommend that you spend the night there, it’s certainly easy on the eye and therefore worth a look at.
The Los Angeles Union Station deserves a love letter all to itself. As LA’s main railway station, also located near Downtown, it first opened in 1939 and it is a complete homage to Los Angeles architecture and history. Part Art Deco and Streamline Moderne style, the hottest styles of the time, while incorporating Spanish Colonial styles, Union Station is widely overlooked by visitors who head straight to the beach, or take pictures with Batman and Elvis on Hollywood Boulevard. Check out these pictures to see an architectural masterpiece.
@leileirubyIt has the look of an austere Spanish Catholic church on the outside, itself a nod to Los Angeles’s colonial past, but upon entering, the lavish dome and details talk about what Los Angeles wants to be: the capital of the Western United States. And it got there, except some of its architectural jewels were somewhat forgotten. Whichever style you prefer, there’s little room to question whether LA has it or not. In 500 Days of Summer, Tom encourages Summer to “look up,” but I urge you to look up, look inside, look around. LA has something for everybody.
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