Photo by Michael Locke

Cinerama Dome

Few things symbolize Los Angeles better than a movie theatre, but there is not a single theatre in the city that can compare to the Cinerama Dome as an icon of modern architecture.

Designed by Welton Becket and Associates and completed in 1963, the Cinerama Dome was originally designed as a prototype to be used throughout the country to showcase the new Cinerama process, but only a few other Cinerama theatres were ever built. As a result, the Dome is a very rare example of a surviving, intact Cinerama theatre, retaining the curved screen that was required for the three-projector system.

It was also the first concrete geodesic dome in the world, built using Buckminster Fuller's patented technique to bolt together over 300 pentagonal and hexagonal panels weighing as much as 3,200 pounds each.

The dome, reaching over seventy feet in height, is a highly visible Sunset Boulevard landmark on the outside and an incomparable cinematic environment on the inside. Its smooth curves and sweeping interior features highlight the organic side of modern design, evoking the arc of the night sky. Upon its completion, the Cinerama Dome joined other Becket buildings such as the Capitol Records Tower, the Beverly Hilton, and downtown's Music Center of Los Angeles County as a forward-looking example of Los Angeles Modernism.

The theatre's grand opening was the premiere of It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World, which ran for sixty-six weeks. Strangely, no actual Cinerama films were projected in the theatre until 2002, when the Dome was restored to become the focal point of Arclight Cinemas. It continues to dazzle audiences on a daily basis, even showing Cinerama movies on special occasions.

Pantages Theatre photo
Photo by Adrian Scott Fine/Los Angeles Conservancy

Pantages Theatre

The 1930 Pantages Theatre can hold claim to two “lasts”: the last movie palace to be built in Hollywood and the last venue erected by vaudeville circuit owner, Alexander Pantages. Designed by B. Marcus Priteca at the epitome of the Art Deco era, from sidewalk to stage, the Pantages dazzles theater-goers with chevrons, zigzags, starbrusts, and exotic figures.
Photo by Nevin on Flickr

Beckman Auditorium, Caltech

A stunning juxtaposition of historic forms and modern materials come together to provide Caltech students with a modern interpretation of a Roman temple.
Photo courtesy Architectural Resources Group

Nelson Houses

With their simple Mid-Century Modern lines and their breathtaking views, the Nelson Houses are a rare work by one of very few female modernists to gain acclaim in postwar L.A.