Engineered to meet the precise aspirations of residents of Pasadena, Bullock's Pasadena (currently Macy's) is a sublime example of a post-World War II department store.
Bullock's Pasadena on Lake Avenue (currently Macy's) is a sublime example of a post-World War II department store, carefully engineered to meet the precise aspirations of residents of Pasadena. At that time, the City of Roses had the highest per-capita income in the nation and served as a model for the suburban dream sweeping Southern California after the war.
Wurdeman and Becket's first of over 100 department store designs, Bullock's Pasadena was built in the Late Moderne style in 1947. Its design expands the aerodynamic lines of Streamline Moderne into a more subtle, elegant form, meeting the demand of Bullock's president that the department store feel like a fine residence. The architects had full control of the interior design as well as the exterior, collaborating with interior designer Raymond C. Dexter to create sixty-one discrete departments, each with its own distinct finishes and architectural style.
To attract the garden-loving populace of Pasadena and the San Gabriel Valley, landscape architect Ruth Shellhorn worked with Wurdeman and Becket to create a lush landscape from which the massive building arose like an island. In a then-astonishing concession to the automobile, Bullock's Pasadena prefigured mid-century commercial development throughout Los Angeles by featuring a rear six-acre parking lot. The parking lot has since been developed into a new retail center by Johnson Favaro (2003); the new shopping center surrounds and complements Bullock's, leaving the handsome building to survey its domain along bustling Lake Avenue.