1414 Fair Oaks Building
An exploration of the ideal form of California living, the former office of architects Smith & Williams is an outstanding realization of the blend of indoor/outdoor environments, easy automobile access, natural light, and innovative use of geometric forms.
Whitney Smith and Wayne Williams joined fellow Southern California architects in the 1940s and 1950s in the exploration of the ideal form of California living. However, some of Smith & Williams’ most innovative work was in their designs for low-rise office buildings. Their Community Facilities Planners Building at 1414 Fair Oaks Avenue, which the architects designed for their own offices, is an outstanding realization of the blend of indoor/outdoor environments, easy automobile access, natural light, and innovative use of geometric forms.
With prominent landscape architect Garrett Eckbo responsible for the landscape design, the building is a marriage of architecture and landscape. The trunks of thin, tall maple trees mingle with the tall vertical support posts, and one- and two-story office spaces interlock around a courtyard covered by metal canopies at varying heights. Globe light fixtures are suspended from the undulating barrel-shaped canopies. Exposed beams and skeletal, branch-like support systems expose the structural bones of the building.
Smith & Williams designed the building to be an environment where space planning could foster collaboration and create a “creative crucible” among its tenants. For a number of years, they shared the building with other design firms, including Eckbo’s firm, Eckbo, Dean, Austin and Williams (EDAW).