Mutato Muzika | Los Angeles Conservancy
Photo by Devri Richmond

Mutato Muzika

The Sunset Strip has more than its share of eye-catching buildings, but one of the most mind-boggling is the low, round, extremely green office at 8760 W. Sunset Boulevard.

This building, which looks like it should be spinning wildly at a carnival somewhere, currently houses Devo co-founder Mark Mothersbaugh's Mutato Muzika music production company (and its green color seems to date to the Mutato Muzika occupation). Fantastically, this is not the most interesting information about the building. It was built in 1967 for owner Dr. Richard Alan Franklyn, a well-known Hollywood cosmetic surgeon and author of books like "The Art of Staying Young" and "Developing Bosom Beauty."

Franklyn wanted a building designed expressly for doing plastic surgery, with natural light streaming in through central skylights to illuminate the operating room.

He got it, with a circular UFO-like building lit not only by skylights, but by elongated arched windows separated by simple concrete pilasters covering the entire circular façade.

The architect Franklyn hired to design the building is said to be none other than Oscar Niemeyer, the world-famous Brazilian architect who designed the Mid-Century Modern buildings of Brasilia, as well as many others that changed the face of modern architecture around the world. Niemeyer was known for his love of curves over straight lines, so by that token the Beauty Pavilion certainly fits with the rest of his oeuvre. The architect was living and working primarily in Paris in the late 1960s, however, and most of his designs were monumental civic and institutional complexes around the world.

The idea that a Hollywood plastic surgeon had the wherewithal to commission a Niemeyer design of a small medical office building requires some suspension of disbelief, plus no architect is listed on the building permit. Whoever the designer, and whether the building is occupied by an early hub of the nascent cosmetic surgery industry or by a post-New Wave recording studio, it is a wonderfully bonkers landmark on the Sunset Strip.

Photo by Douglas Hill/ShootingArchitecture.com

Bradbury Building

Still splendid more than 100 years after its 1893 opening, its magical light-filled Victorian court, open cage elevators, marble stairs, and ornate iron railings make this one of downtown's most photographed icons.
Photo courtesy Architectural Resources Group

Kona Kai Apartments

Rosemead Boulevard, from Pasadena to Pico Rivera and beyond, contains an unusually intact assortment of exuberant architectural styles including the Kona Kai, in San Gabriel, which falls right in line as a proud example of midcentury Tiki tradition.