Gin Wong (1922 - 2017)
Gin D. Wong, FAIA was one of a unique group of Chinese-American architects who helped define the postwar architecture of Los Angeles. Against seemingly insurmountable odds, including racial covenants in mid-century Los Angeles, Wong persevered to forge a distinguished career.
Wong was born in Guangzhou, China in 1922 and immigrated to Los Angeles as a young child. After serving as a radar bombardier for the U.S. Army in World War II, he attended USC’s School of Architecture, graduating in 1950.
After graduation, he worked for the renowned firm of Pereira and Luckman, eventually becoming vice president of design. When William Pereira and Charles Luckman established their own firms, Wong helped found William L. Pereira & Associates in 1958, where he ultimately became a partner and the firm’s president.
Wong was instrumental in creating some of Los Angeles’ greatest Modern structures. He served as design director for Los Angeles International Airport (LAX). Other projects included CBS Television City and downtown’s Union Oil Center (now Los Angeles Center Studios).
Wong also designed what many consider the most iconic gas station in the world—the Union 76 station (1965) in Beverly Hills, originally designed as part of the LAX master plan. It was under Wong’s leadership that Pereira & Associates was commissioned to design the landmark Transamerica Pyramid in San Francisco.
He founded Gin Wong Associates (GWA) in 1974. The internationally recognized firm specializes in the design and planning of corporate headquarters, commercial and retail spaces, hotels, educational facilities, and university campuses.
GWA designed the Arco Tower (now 1055 West Seventh), one of the most prominent Modern skyscrapers in downtown Los Angeles. Built of granite, glass, and steel, it was constructed in 1989 as the last of the three towers for the headquarters of the Atlantic Richfield Company.
The Conservancy’s Modern Committee honored Wong with a Modern Masters award in 2013. Asked in a 2013 interview to name his favorite project, the visionary replied, “The next one.”
Wong died on September 1, 2017 at the age of 94.