The Darkroom | Los Angeles Conservancy
Photo by Tim Street-Porter

The Darkroom

Originally a camera shop, this unique structure (now a restaurant) is one of the city's last remaining examples of programmatic architecture, in which a building physically resembles its purpose.

The façade's nine-foot-tall Argus camera announced The Darkroom's wares quite literally. Some claim that during the building's heyday, the tenant would project short films through the camera lens/window for pedestrians to watch.

Although the famed store is long gone, the black vitriolite facade remains as a protected city landmark (Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monument).

Yet its Art Deco neon signage was not protected. Removed and hidden for decades in a private collection, the sign is now owned by the Museum of Neon Art.

Downtown Women’s Center
Photo by Randall Michelson, Courtesy Pica + Sullivan Architects, Ltd.

Downtown Women’s Center

After years of languishing, what William Douglas Lee had designed for a shoe company gained new life as the Downtown Women's Center, earning a Conservancy Preservation Award.
Image courtesy Security Pacific National Bank Collection/Los Angeles Public Library

The Tamale

A rare remaining example of programmatic architecture, The Tamale was designed to advertise its products to passing motorists.