Gibbs and Gibbs | Los Angeles Conservancy

Gibbs and Gibbs

Gibbs and Gibbs

In addition to being at the forefront of Modern architecture in Southern California, the father-and-son team of Gibbs and Gibbs was instrumental in creating the postwar aesthetic for the city of Long Beach.  

Hugh Gibbs, FAIA (1905-1990) received his architecture degree from USC and started his Long Beach firm in 1934. Donald Gibbs, FAIA also graduated from USC’s School of Architecture. He joined his father in 1961 and was a partner by 1963.

By 1961, Hugh Gibbs was already a successful architect of large-scale projects, including the first buildings at California State University – Long Beach, military housing, and residential communities. One of the best-known was Apple Valley, ninety miles east of Los Angeles. 

Designed for fellow Long Beach residents (and millionaire oilmen), Gibbs created the master plan for Apple Valley, along with a Modern ranch-style hotel, the Apple Valley Inn. In its heyday, beginning in 1948, the inn attracted Hollywood royalty and prominent politicians. Roy Rogers and Dale Evans became the inn’s proprietors in 1964.

The firm of Gibbs and Gibbs was quite prolific, designing significant naval hospitals among many other projects. Yet it was in their hometown of Long Beach where they left their enduring mark.  

They designed and built the Long Beach Naval Hospital and downtown YMCA (both of which are now demolished), as well as several buildings for the Cal State – Long Beach campus. They also designed the 1977 Long Beach Civic Center, a prime example of the late Modern style. 

Perhaps the most admired Gibbs and Gibbs structure is their own office building— a handsome glass box with clean, geometric lines designed by Donald Gibbs. Built in 1963, it remains a quintessential example of Mid-Century Modernism.

Father and son worked in partnership until Hugh’s death in 1990. Today, the firm operates as Gibbs Architects, a third-generation firm run by Kurt Gibbs, AIA. Donald Gibbs remains a practicing architect in Long Beach, as well as a sculptor. The Conservancy’s Modern Committee honored Gibbs with a Modern Masters award in 2013.

Gibbs & Gibbs Office Building
Photo by Sarah Gilbert

Gibbs & Gibbs Office Building

Created as an advertisement as well as a building demonstrating the firm's prowess and design sensibility, the building still stands as a great example of the Long Beach firm's rich architectural legacy.
Photo courtesy Architectural Resources Group

Warner Bros. Office Building (1)

What appears to be a deconstructed residential building turned commercial high-rise features a wood post-and-beam structural system like many classic Mid-Century Modern homes but draws on the traditions of the Craftsman style.