City Councilman Tom LaBonge honored the Los Angeles Conservancy Modern Committee this morning for 30 years of working to preserve modern architecture in Los Angeles. What better location to award the proclamation than the Capitol Records building, which the group nominated as a Historic-Cultural Monument in 2006. Previous chairs Adriene Biondo and Alan Leib attended, along with vice-chair Cheryll Roberts, Steven Price, and historian Daniel Paul, who wrote the landmark nomination for the Capitol Records building.
I have worked with the group since I was a teenager in the 1980s. Back then architects and historians disdained midcentury architecture, and working to save a 1950s building was a curiosity. Today, there are modern groups all over the country and the 80s Deco Crest Theater in Westwood, Peter Shire’s art house (made of castoffs from his designs for the ’84 Olympics), and Frank Gehry and Claes Oldenburg’s 1991 Venice Binoculars are all city landmarks.
Architect Bruce Becket joined the Modern Committee members for the occasion. His father Welton Becket designed the tower in 1956. As Bruce and I we were crossing the street to return to our cars, LaBonge held up a big metal construction worker’s “Stop” sign so we could cross in the middle of the block. “We’d better hurry,” the termed-out councilman shouted. “I won’t be able to do this after Tuesday.”