Architecture of Los Angeles - 11 Architectural Wonders That You Must Not Miss

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Los Angeles is amongst the most visited cities in the world. Fondly known as L.A., its culture is an interesting concoction of global cultures, each with its own influence. It has a unique heritage dating back to the days of the California Gold Rush. The current city is amongst the most technologically advanced in the world, with some breathtaking innovations in the fields of science.

The field of architecture has seen a rapid evolution in Los Angeles. Tourists can be amazed by the sheer brilliance of modern architecture, or admire the traditional Victorian architecture. The city also finds a beautiful blend of Spanish and French architecture throughout, making it a treat for those with a special liking to architecture.

If you intend to feast your eyes on the marvels of L.A.’s unique architecture, here are 11 buildings you must definitely visit!

11 Wonderful Buildings to Marvel at the Architecture of Los Angeles

1. The Theme Building - A Glimpse of the Future in Los Angeles

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If you fly into Los Angeles, be sure to notice the futuristic design of the Theme Building. Based on the Googie style of the 20th century, the building resembles a flying saucer landing on its four extended legs. Construction of this unique building was completed during the Space Age, reminding one of the impact of space in the American culture. It also housed a restaurant in its interior, which closed down in 2014. This architectural landmark is illuminated at night, so don’t mistake it for an alien UFO in the middle of Los Angeles!

2. Walt Disney Concert Hall - Modern Innovation at its Finest in Los Angeles

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This architectural masterpiece was designed by the renowned architect Frank Gehry. It is a fine example of the Deconstructivism movement in the Modern era of architecture. The sweeping metallic exteriors, inspired by the musical movement and motion of Los Angeles, is an architectural feat, with a very specific steel structure holding the undulating exteriors. The concert hall too is acoustically tuned to give visitors an amazing experience, with clarity and tonality like no other.

3. Andrew McNally Mansion - Victorian Architecture at its Best in Los Angeles

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Andrew McNally Mansion is amongst the finest examples of the Queen Anne style of Victorian architecture. The three storied rotunda overlooks the nearby San Gabriel mountains, while the well maintained landscape around the house is a treat for the eyes. The asymmetric design with its classic turrets resembles famous mansions and buildings in Britain, where this style found its origins.

4. Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels - God Meets Modernization in Los Angeles

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Breaking the Gothic stereotype commonly associated with churches, the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels is a deconstructivist Roman Catholic cathedral. This stunning building avoids right angles completely, ensuring a unique but hard to miss exterior. One might even fail to recognize it as a religious site, if not for the large cross on its window. Other salient features of the building include contemporary art installations at the entrance, as well as an underground crypt.

5. Watts Tower - Quirky Art Meets Recycled Brilliance in Los Angeles

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The Watts Tower is an art installation by Simon Rodia, inspired by Italian-American naive art and the outsider art movement. The metallic towers are primarily made of steel rebar, with found items like porcelain, bottles and contributions from the neighbouring kids finding its place in the installation. It is now a National Historical Landmark, entered in as an installation of folk art. The tallest installation is approximately 100 ft tall. Amongst the decorative articles used to beautify the towers, one can spot former logos of famous soft drink brands like Squirt and 7Up.

6. The Mayan Theater - Ancient Traditional Architecture in Los Angeles

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The Mayan Theater, now a nightclub, goes back to ancient Mayan roots. The facade of the building is adorned by pre-Colombian patterns and figures, sculpted by Francisco Cornejo. The lobby, called ‘The Hall of the Feathered Serpents’, is well preserved, with a chandelier based on Aztec calendar stone being the centrepiece. If you’re looking to party in a historic venue, this is the place to be.

7. Union Station - A Rare Blend of Two Different Eras in Los Angeles

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Who said train stations had to look boring? The Union Station in L.A is a unique hybrid of the Spanish Colonial Revival and Art Deco styles. The exterior facade is unmistakably similar to the Spanish Missions of the 18th century, with its arched doorways and low pitched roofs. The interiors offer a completely different experience, with the waiting room and the now closed main ticketing area being perfect examples of Art Deco. The geometric patterns and beautiful ornamentation of these rooms is perfectly accentuated with the natural sunlight falling in through the large arched windows.

8. Wilshire Grand - Standing Tall in Los Angeles

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Wilshire Grand Center is the tallest building in Los Angeles. The multi-purpose skyscraper stands at 1,110 ft, achieving the height thanks to its 294 ft. spire. Heavily based on the Metamodern style of architecture, notice the sail-like roof design, which is the first in the city of Los Angeles. The spine and roof have an integrated LED lighting system which turns on every evening, making you sure you don’t miss this architectural wonder even from afar.

9. Capitol Records Building - Music Meets Googie in Los Angeles

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The Capitol Records Building is described as the ‘World’s First Circular Office’. The tower is another iconic example of the Googie era of buildings in Los Angeles. Designed by Lou Naidorf, the exterior of the building resembles a stack of gramophone records on the turntable. The spindle, which points upwards, blinks the word ‘Hollywood’ in Morse code. The south wall is adorned by the Hollywood Jazz mural. The large depictions of famous jazz personalities highlights the history of this iconic building in the field of music.

10. Sunset Tower - A Vintage Hollywood Building in Los Angeles

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One look at the Sunset Tower, and you are transported back in time. The tower is a classic example of the Streamline Moderne style of Art Deco architecture. Similar to the luxury cars of the same era, the building draws inspiration from aerodynamically efficient design. Home to many famous Hollywood personalities in the past, the building is now a luxury hotel, giving guests a chance to stay at one of the earliest highrise buildings in Los Angeles.

11. Pacific Design Center - A True Reflection of Los Angeles

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Divided into three centers, the tricolor scheme of the Pacific Design Center instantly attracts the attention of passers-by. Designed by Cesar Pelli, the Center Blue is commonly known as the Blue Whale, due to its sheer enormity and bright blue window glass cladding. The Center Green and Center Red are the other buildings in this heavily Modernist inspired center. The exteriors are beautifully landscaped, with fountains and well maintained gardens providing a serene atmosphere.

Aren't you overwhelmed by the magnificent architecture of Los Angeles? Tell us in the comments.

This post was published by Peter Nikhil David

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