Los Angeles has something to offer every architectural connoisseur, whether it leans toward historic or modern. With a skyline designed by Pritzker Prize winning architects, LA has buildings at the cutting edge of design and innovation.
Historic and modern
Perhaps one of the oldest structures of note in LA is the Bradbury Building, designed by George H. Wyman in 1889. Constructed of brick with a cast iron interior, the building was a daring design by an architect otherwise known for his conservatism. The traditional exterior contrasts with other, for the time, innovative and modern features, such as dramatically projecting stair and lift towers and the elevators themselves, which are made out of glass. This building featured in the film ‘Blade Runner’.
The Van Nuys Hotel, now the Hotel Barclay, was opened in 1897. Designed in the Beaux-Arts style, with Romanesque features, the lobby still retains some of the hotel’s original features, such as ceiling roses, stained-glass windows and a crest with two seahorses holding up the initials V.N.
Hotel Barclay, Photo Credit: Jim Winstead
Come into the twenty-first century with the Walt Disney Concert Hall, constructed in 2003. This eye-catching building, with its stainless steel sloping framework is intended to represent either billowing sails or flower petals. The unique and stunning design is matched by the acoustics inside the concert hall.
A truly original piece of religious architecture, the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels is constructed of sand-colored concrete and possesses practically no right angles anywhere in the building. During the daytime, the interior of the Cathedral is lit by sunlight shining through alabaster panels on the walls.
Popular buildings in LA
The tallest building in California, the U.S Bank Tower, is one of the most iconic buildings in LA and is worth approximately $367.5 million. Built by Henry Cobb in 1989, the Tower is 73 storeys high and the exterior of the building is made up of interlocking granite slabs, which means that no part of the tower is either round or square. The glass crown of the building is illuminated at night.
The Getty Center, opened in 1997, is a world famous art museum and is worth approximately $1.2 billion. Construction took over a decade to complete and the building is designed to merge with its surrounding natural environment, so concrete and steel integrate with gardens and terraces.
The Getty Center
Travelling to and around LA
Unlike some other big American cities, LA is not a great place to go walking, so renting a car is an option, although be prepared for the notorious LA traffic. During rush hours, it will take twice as long to get where you are going. LA has a regular, reliable bus service and downtown LA has a metro hub, with trains going to all the major areas. If travelling by plane, getting to LA is easy; there are many airlines flying into LA’s LAX airport; for example, US Airways flights are frequent and offer some great deals.
Summers in LA can be extremely hot, so the best time to visit is either in the spring, from March to May or the fall, between September and November. If visiting the city to check out the architecture, these are the best times, as temperatures are still warm, but cool enough to be outside.
Guest article by Aimee Claire