Monday, January 15, 2018

Sometimes Old Architectureecture is Best

A recent trip to Los Angeles provided an opportunity to visit some old buildings that few people take the time to see. Here are a some of my favorites.

1. A mid-century modern gem is the Avalon hotel, located a few blocks south of Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills. I love this place, a boutique hotel that eschews the frenzy and size of better know venues. The Avalon boasts a classic kidney-shaped pool in its courtyard, flanked by a groovy restaurant and balconies overlooking it all. It is an intimate place, convenient to all of the central LA basin. Modern updates respect the original architecture without mothballing it.  Marilyn Monroe reportedly stayed here in the 1950s.
Avalon hotel, Beverly Hills. 
2. Everybody disdains downtown L.A.  I rather like it. It is no longer a forgotten corner of the city that seemed dangerous and shabby.  Okay, it's still a bit shabby and, frankly, boring.  But it's no longer forgotten.  New high-rise apartments flank the edges of downtown and old bank buildings on Spring Street are being converted to stylish lofts. Several subway lines now link downtown with Hollywood, Santa Monica, and other far-flung neighborhoods. Granted, it lacks shopping and restaurant magnets, but the original Grand Central Market still serves downtown as it has since 1917.
Grand Central Market, downtown L.A.
3.. L.A.'s grande dame of hotels, the Biltmore, is one downtown destination that still is worth seeing. It demonstrates the truism "...they just don't build 'em like they used to." It is richly detailed in its very accessible lobbies (yes, there are more than one), grand tavern, meeting rooms, and galleries. It is the kind of place that makes a visitor feel like royalty.
Biltmore lobby. 
Biltmore lobby.
Biltmore ceiling.
Biltmore chandelier. 
Biltmore lobby.
Biltmore lobby bar. 
4. Broadway, in downtown L.A., was once a street of many lavish movie palaces.  The buildings are still there, but, sadly, mostly abandoned. Occasionally they are used (interiors and exteriors) for movie locations.  For the most part they are probably destined for the wrecking ball.  Enjoy them while you still can.  Also on Broadway, and lovingly restored, is the Bradbury building.  Built in 1893, it  is one of the earliest examples of a skylit atrium building with exposed elevator cages. This was created nearly a century before John Portman brought the concept to the Hyatt hotel chain. Architecture students know this building from their history classes. Film buffs should know it from numerous location shots, including the final scenes of Bladerunner.
Theater on Broadway.
Bradbury building.

Bradbury building.
5. Union Station is a Spanish revival building that still has real train service.  Also the nexus for two subway lines, it has gained a renewal of purpose that attracts bustling crowds as it must have during the heyday of travel by train.
Union Station. 
Union Station.
6. Finally, what could sum up Los Angeles better than a classic movie studio. Paramount still has its main gate, featured in numerous film classics including Gloria Swanson's famous scene in Sunset Boulevard. If you take the studio tour you get two cities for the price of one.  "New York City" is recreated as faćade-only buildings in sunny Los Angeles.  (Usually sunny.  It was raining that particular day.)
Paramount studios entrance gate. 
"New York City."
It's only a movie set. 

All photos : MJK with an iPhone 6.





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