A Guide to the 100 Stunning Architectural Gems of L.A.

The burnished splendor of Art Deco. The clean grace of Modernism. When it comes to architecture, our city is a wonderland
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51. Union Station

Architect: John and Donald Parkinson
Completed: 1939

Described by the Los Angeles Conservancy as the “last grand railroad station built in America,” the Spanish Colonial Revival/Art Deco building—surrounded by palm trees and birds of paradise—is pure Los Angeles.

52. Wilshire Boulevard Temple

Architect: S. Tilden Norton, A. M. Adelman, and David C. Allison
Completed: 1929

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The impressive temple has been home to the Congregation B’nai B’rith since 1929, and it’s full of incredible artwork commissioned by the Warner brothers (yes, those Warner brothers), Sid Grauman, Louis B. Mayer and other Hollywood greats.

53. Angelus Temple

Architect: Brook Hawkins
Completed: 1925

It was one of the first ever megachurches, built around the showy persona of preacher Aimee Semple McPherson.

54. Wiltern Theater and Pellissier Building

Architect: Morgan, Walls, and Clements
Completed: 1931

We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again, Art Deco towers are most beautiful when they’re teal.

55. Compton City Hall and Civic Center

Architect: Harold L. Williams
Completed: 1977

Facing the striking King Memorial, the building was designed in the Late Modern Style in 1976. Angled concrete columns slice through the City Hall building’s wide horizontality.

56. Pterodactyl

Architect: Eric Owen Moss
Completed: 2014

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Culver City-based Eric Owen Moss is one of the more significant contemporary architects, but sometimes he gets overlooked in L.A. His firm has built a wild assortment of buildings on Hayden Tract, all with names like Cactus Tower, Waffle, and Stealth. Seriously, how can you overlook this?

57. Wayfarer’s Chapel

Architect: Lloyd Wright
Completed: 1951

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The natural world merges with constructed space it this glass chapel in Palos Verdes, which was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright’s son, Lloyd Wright.

58. Star Apartments

Architect: Michael Maltzan
Completed: 2014

Maltzan’s apartments for the long-term homeless on Skid Row are something of a self-contained community, with apartments, a medical clinic, a health center, and government offices all enclosed.

59. The Broad

Architect: Diller Scofidio + Renfro
Completed: 2015

Billionaire Eli Broad’s glass art museum is veiled behind a honeycomb-like mesh.

60. Herald-Examiner Building

Architect: Julia Morgan
Completed: 1914

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Morgan was the first woman licensed to practice architecture in California. Even more iconic than the headquarters she designed for William Randolf Hearst’s Los Angeles Examiner is Hearst Castle, which she designed for the newspaper magnate in San Simeon.

61. Santa Monica Civic Auditorium

Architect: Welton Becket
Completed: 1958

Designed in the International Style, the auditorium is enshrouded in an elaborately porous concrete screen. The building was closed in 2013 and faces an uncertain future.

62. Caltrans District 7 Headquarters

Architect: Morphosis
Completed: 2004

Yeah, so the formidable gray beast has been called the “death star,” but it’s also a marvel of design—its mechanical skin of metal screens reacts to changes in temperature and sunlight, and the outdoor lobby features a neon artwork by Keith Sonnier.

63. TCL Chinese Theater

Architect: Meyer & Holler
Completed: 1927

Sid Grauman’s famous movie palace draws zillions of tourists on a daily basis.

64. Binoculars Building

Architect: Frank Gehry
Completed: 1991

Artists Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen are famous for their sculptures of giant stuff, and they outdid themselves by dropping an enormous pair of binoculars onto the front of this Frank Gehry-designed building in Venice.

65. Sowden House

Architect: Lloyd Wright
Completed: 1926

Improving on his dad’s textile block technique, Wright gave the place a looming sculptural entrance, Temple of Doom vibe, and a lush courtyard. Retired LAPD detective Steve Hodel thinks his dad may have murdered Elizabeth Short, the Black Dahlia, in the basement, but that’s a story for another time.

66. Neutra VDL Research House

Architect: Richard and Dion Neutra
Completed: 1964

When the first version of this house burned down, Neutra teamed up with his son to rebuilt it afresh as both laboratory and living space. Cal Poly Pomona now owns the house and offers tours.

67. Art Center College of Design Hillside Campus

Architect: Craig Ellwood Associates
Completed: 1976

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The campus’s main building is a bold modernist bridge structure that spans an arroyo in the hills above the Rose Bowl. It’s arguably Ellwood’s greatest work.

68. Union 76 Station

Architect: Gin Wong of William L. Pereira & Associates
Completed: 1965

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Initially intended to be built at LAX to complement the Theme Building, this Googie gem in Beverly Hills is an ode to the Space Age.

69. Farmers and Merchants Bank

Architect: Morgan & Walls
Completed: 1905

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With formal columns and pediments, the downtown bank was designed to evoke a Roman Temple.

70. Eames House

Architect: Charles and Ray Eames
Completed: 1949

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The airy home and studio of innovators Ray and Charles Eames (the house itself was one of their projects) is still filled with the furniture they designed and the folk art they collected. It’s open to the public most days of the week.

71. The Hauser

Architect: Wilsen Construction Co.
Completed: 1955

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This goes out to all the mid-century Dingbat apartments out there. They’re thin-walled, widely derided, and pretty tacky—but also surprisingly endearing and quintessentially Los Angeles.

72. Santa Anita Park

Architect: Gordon B. Kaufmann
Completed: 1934

The aquamarine grandstand embodies Streamline Moderne styling. During World War II 20,000 Japanese-Americans were interned at a camp set up in the stables and parking lot of the racetrack.

73. Angelino Heights

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They messed up the spelling of “Angeleno,” but this was L.A.’s first suburb, and it’s packed with the type of glorious Victorian homes—like the Heim House, Libby House, and Sessions House (sorry, we couldn’t pick just one)—that once defined Bunker Hill.

74. Dodger Stadium

Architect: Emil Praeger
Completed: 1962

In the early ’50s the city prevailed in the years-long “Battle of Chavez Ravine”—in which it coerced the area’s Spanish-speaking residents out of their homes to make way for a public housing development. When that project didn’t pan out, Praeger was enlisted to design the beautiful mid-century modern stadium on the site.

75. Los Angeles California Temple

Architect: Edward O. Anderson
Completed: 1956

It’s the second largest Mormon temple in the world.

76. Academy Theater

Architect: S. Charles Lee
Completed: 1939

Supposedly, this theater was built with the Academy Awards in mind, but the ceremony was never held there. It’s now known as the Academy Cathedral and plays host to a non-denominational Christian church.

77. The Andalusia

Architect: Arthur and Nina Zwebell
Completed: 1926

This Spanish Revival apartment is famed for its gorgeous courtyard.

78. Chapman Plaza

Architect: Morgan, Walls, and Clements
Completed: 1929

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This fortress on Wilshire was one of the first markets on the West Coast to be designed with the automobile in mind.

79. Adamson House

Architect: Stiles O. Clements
Completed: 1929

The Spanish-style mansion boasts the largest collection of exquisite Malibu Potteries Tile.

80. Hollywood Roosevelt

Architect: Fisher, Lake & Traver
Completed: 1926

The Hollywood Boulevard landmark was home of the first Oscars in 1929.

81. Downey McDonald’s

Architect: Stanley Clark Meston
Completed: 1953

It’s not the first McDonald’s, but it’s the oldest one still standing and an eye-catching roadside gem. The golden arches that were part of this building inspired the ubiquitous logo we know today.

82. Oviatt Building

Architect: Walker & Eisen
Completed: 1928


Designed as a haberdashery and offices for luxury brand Alexander & Oviatt—with a ten-room penthouse for Mr. Oviatt himself upstairs—it’s an ornate, Italian Romanesque-styled treasure.

83. Sunset Tower

Architect: Leland A. Bryant
Completed: 1931

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Everyone who was anyone during Hollywood’s Golden Age stayed here, from Marilyn Monroe to Bugsy Siegel.

84. Nishi Hongwanji Buddhist Temple

Architect: Edgar Cline
Completed: 1925

It was the first building in los angeles designed specifically as a Buddhist Temple, and, after the Japanese internment, it served as a temporary dwelling for evacuees returning from the camps. It’s now a part of the Japanese American National Museum.

85. Biltmore Hotel

Architect: Schultze and Weaver
Completed: 1923

DTLA’s magnificent (if a little the worse for wear) Beaux Arts hotel is purportedly packed with ghosts.

86. Crossroads of the World

Architect: Robert V. Derrah
Completed: 1936

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The ship-like Streamline Modern centerpiece of this collection of globally-inspired storefronts (they’re now offices) is unmissable as you drive down Sunset.

87. Eichler Homes

Architect: Jones & Emmons
Completed: 1949-1966

Los Angeles is home to a smattering of developer Joseph Eischler’s signature A-Frame tract houses, which brought modernist architecture to the middle class and were accessible to all, regardless of race. You can find them in Thousand Oaks and Granada Hills, as well as Orange.

88. Aztec Hotel

Architect: Robert Stacy-Judd
Completed: 1924

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Mayan Revival had a good run in Los Angeles, and the Aztec Hotel is one of the movement’s most glorious relics (and don’t forget the Mayan Theater downtown).

89. Horatio West Court

Architect: Irving Gill
Completed: 1919

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One of the earliest modernist buildings, ever, Gill’s complex emphasizes “the straight line, the arch, the cube, and the circle,” and was designed for ultimate efficiency. Richard Neutra was a big fan.

90. Yamashiro

Architect: Franklin Small
Completed: 1914

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Japanese craftsmen were brought over to build this replica of a temple in Kyoto for brothers Adolph and Eugene Bernheimer, who needed a place to store their precious Asian artifacts.

91. Beckman Auditorium at Caltech

Architect: Edward Durell Stone
Completed: 1963

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The circular auditorium is emblematic of New Formalism, a style Stone popularized.

92. CBS Television City

Architect: Gin Wong of Pereira & Luckman
Completed: 1952

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When it was completed, the massive complex signified that TV in L.A. was serious business.

93. Chateau Marmont

Architect: William Douglas Lee
Completed: 1929

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The hotel was modeled after the Chateau D’Amboise in France, and its thick walls and secretive staff made it ground zero for Old Hollywood affairs.

94. Powers House

Architect: Arthur L. Haley
Completed: 1904

You can tell Haley had fun with this exemplary Mission Revival home.

95. Heritage Square

Architect: Unknown
Completed: 1887

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The Queen Anne style Victorian mansion, Hale House, is one of a handful of homes salvaged and relocated at Heritage Square Museum.

96. Spadena House

Architect: Harry Oliver
Completed: 1921

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LA. has no shortage of fantastical storybook-style houses, but the Witch’s House is undoubtedly the most famous.

97. Kappe House

Architect: Ray Kappe
Completed: 1967

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The the SCI-Arc founder built his beautiful modernist home above an underground spring by structuring it around six concrete towers driven deep into the ground.

98. Stimson House

Architect: Carroll H. Brown
Completed: 1891

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This Richardsonian Romanesque castle was originally built for lumber tycoon Thomas Douglas Stimson, but it’s since functioned as a convent and a frat house.

99. El Alisal

Architect: Charles Lummis
Completed: 1910

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Also known as the Lummis House, this craftsman marvel was built with stones that writer Charles Lummis gathered with his own hands.

100. Walt Disney Studios

Architect: Michael Graves

Completed: 1990

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Huge statues of the seven dwarfs adorn the front of of the Team Disney complex on the studio lot that Walt Disney purchased with the money he made from Snow White in 1937.


RELATED: An Insider’s Guide to the 100 Hidden Gems of L.A.

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