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Great Architecture in Los Angeles

Great Architecture

Sorry, New York, you may offer the best of the best in other categories, but when it comes to groundbreaking new architecture, Los Angeles takes the prize (the Pritzker, that is).

Amid the patchwork of California bungalows and stucco Caliterraneans that dot the cityscape dwell some of the last century's most notable architectural feats, many of them carefully restored and lovingly tended.

Here are a few examples that no architecture buff should miss.

Classic Architecture

A stone's throw from the blaring ranchero music of South Broadway, the circa 1880s Bradbury Building (304 S. Broadway, Downtown) designed by George H. Wyman lays testament to Downtown's halcyon days. This Victorian-style office building, best known for the intricate cast iron metalwork that details its soaring, light-filled atrium, is a mecca for architecture students. Don't be surprised if you see a few artsy types soaking up the ambience.

A fine example of Frank Lloyd Wright's work, the ’20s-era Hollyhock House (4800 Hollywood Blvd., Los Feliz 323/644–6269 www.hollyhockhouse.net) can be found in scenic Barnsdall Art Park. Make sure to see the interior, which has some of the master’s lovely stained-glass windows and a huge stone fireplace.

Home to countless examples of the California Craftsman, Pasadena lays claim to the quintessential example, Charles and Henry Greene's Gamble House (4 Westmoreland Pl., Pasadena 626/793–3334 www.gamblehouse.org). Built in 1908, the house is heavy on stained glass and teak woodwork.

If the Gamble House doesn't satiate your appetite for all things Greene and Greene, check out the Castle Green (99 S. Raymond Ave., Pasadena 626/793–0359 www.castlegreen.com), a seven-story Moorish Colonial and Spanish-style building on a palm tree–lined site in Old Town Pasadena.

Modern Masterpieces

Join the horde of photographers snapping photos on Grand Avenue. No, it's not a celebrity-fueled paparazzi gathering, just the day's crew of people snapping photos of Frank Gehry's Walt Disney Concert Hall (111 S. Grand Ave., Downtown 323/850–2000 www.laphil.com). Wrapped in curving stainless steel, the music hall possesses a clothlike quality reminiscent of a ship's sails billowing in the wind.

And then there's L.A.'s other major Gehry favorite, the Geffen Contemporary (152 N. Central Ave., Downtown 213/626–6222 www.moca.org), which opened in the early 1980s as a temporary space for works housed inside the Museum of Contemporary Art.

In South Central Los Angeles, Simon Rodia's Watts Towers (1761–1765 E. 107th St., Watts www.wattstowers.us) consist of 17 sculptures constructed of steel and covered with a mosaic of broken glass, seashells, and pieces of 20th-century American ceramics.

Updated: 2014-07-24

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