A Case for Preserving 1960’s Architecture in LA


LA architecture — which many claim came into its own in the ’60s — is facing a mid-life crisis. The old new buildings, which ironically were all about rejecting the past, have become the new old buildings. Ahem. That is, the city’s “modern” architecture, that of aggressive lines and the machine aesthetic, is quickly becoming outdated, both visually and practically. So what’s the issue?

These old-timers are being threatened by developers who want to tear them down and replace them with “greener” buildings – yes, most post-war buildings were constructed without our dear planet in mind, and are ridiculously inefficient. However, the preservationists — like the Los Angeles Conservancy and the National Trust for Historic Preservation — maintain that, besides being landmarks, the energy required to tear down the old buildings and start from scratch with the new is just as wasteful as allowing the buildings to keep on functioning.

So everyone gets to use the environmental argument and so far, no one wins. The situation begs another question — modern architecture is known for its tendency to buck popular taste and the old standards that came before, so is this aging movement finally getting its just desserts? Past that, there’s always the issue of taste.

Take a look at these soon-to-be dinosaurs of late-modernity and see what you think. Do they deserve the wrecking ball to make room for shiny, energy efficient replacements or should they be preserved in all their awkward, engine filter-resembling glory? [via LAT]

Columbia Savings and Loan Association by Irving Shapiro, 1964; Image via you-are-here.com

Detail of Irving Shapiro building; Image via publicartinla.com

The Department of Water and Power’s John Ferraro Building; Image via latimes.com

Commonwealth Savings & Loan Bank by Gerald Bense, 1961; Image via you-are-here.com

Fine Arts Building & Science Hall by Peter J. Holdstock, 1966; Image via you-are-here.com