LA Architecture Tour – Masters of 20th-Century Residential Architecture


This is a great way to spend a Saturday or Sunday. Create your own Architecture Tour! These three historic residences have short hours, so it’s important to start on time in order to visit all three places. Also, this day on the itinerary lets you see the homes in the order they were built.

Begin in Pasadena at the Gamble House. Designed by brothers Charles and Henry Greene, this 1908 bungalow (at 6,000 sq. feet, hardly what we think of as a bungalow) is perhaps one of the finest examples of the Craftsman style in the world, incorporating broad horizontal lines, Asian influences and, most of all, an incredible use of wood. This is the only Greene & Greene home anywhere that is open to the public. Docent-led, one-hour tours are the only way to see the interior: Thursday to Sunday noon to 3 p.m. The tours often sell out early, so it’s best to be here by 11:30 a.m. The bookstore has the best collection of Arts & Crafts-related books in LA. Also, you can pick up a walking tour of the immediate neighborhood, which includes more Greene & Greene homes plus Wright’s Millard House (La Miniatura).

From here, drive down Orange Grove Boulevard to the 110 Freeway, past Downtown LA to Sunset Boulevard. Take Sunset west to Hollywood Boulevard. Hollyhock House is on the top of the hill at the southwest corner of Hollywood Boulevard and Vermont Avenue. No dawdling, because you want to make the 2:30 p.m. tour. Hollyhock House was Wright’s first LA project (finished in 1921), designed for oil heiress Aline Barnsdall on property once known as Olive Hill and now called Barnsdall Park. The Maya-inspired complex — recently opened to the public after an extensive restoration — is Wright’s first attempt at his concrete textile block design. This house is actually wood and stucco with concrete detailing of stylized hollyhocks. The interior can only be seen by docent-led tours, which are given in the afternoons Wednesday to Sunday at 12:30, 1:30, 2:30 and 3:30 p.m.

Continue on to the MAK Center/Schindler House by driving south on Vermont Avenue to Melrose Avenue, then west. From La Brea Avenue to Kings Road, there are dozens of restaurants for all palates and budgets. After lunch, continue west to Kings Road, then north. The Schindler House, built in 1922, was Rudolf Schindler’s home and studio. This is one of the best examples of the architect’s focus on integrating interior and exterior space. Schindler first came to LA as one of Frank Lloyd Wright’s protégés (he supervised much of the work at Hollyhock House). Then he made a name for himself as one of the 20th century masters. The MAK Center has frequent exhibits on related subjects. Enjoy!

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