Pacific Design Center | Los Angeles Conservancy
Pacific Design Center
Photo courtesy Architectural Resources Group

Pacific Design Center

Rising from the center of what used to be a low-scale residential and commercial area of West Hollywood, the Pacific Design Center is an enormous, and enormously colorful, landmark both beloved and reviled by its neighbors.

Designed by architect Cesar Pelli and Norma Merrick Sklarek for Gruen Associates, the complex was created to serve as a multi-use facility for the design community, containing everything from workshops to showrooms to restaurants. It rose in three major stages. The first (1975) was Center Blue, an enormous, bright blue building that almost immediately became known as "The Blue Whale" for its outrageous size and hue. Next (1988) came Center Green, a huge, faceted, bright green building. In 2011, the two buildings were joined by Center Red, a suitably gargantuan, pointedly curving, bright red building.

All of the buildings epitomize Pelli's slick glass skin design, in a Late Modern idiom that obviously embraces exaggerated planes, unusual shapes, and cheerful colors. Pelli conceived of the buildings as oversized fragments fallen to earth, and indeed that is what they look like. They are united by central courtyards and walkways, but their interiors are much larger than any surrounding landscaped areas. Love it or hate it, the Pacific Design Center has become an icon of glass skin design and construction and a landmark of undeniable impact.

Photo courtesy Architectural Resources Group

Gemini G.E.L.

While many of Gehry's designs appear to be as much sculptures as structures, The Gemini G.E.L. (Graphics Editions Limited) building fits squarely into the latter category.
Photo by Tom Pellicer Photographer

Glendale Central Library

A rehabilitation project embraced a 1973 Brutalist design, adapting it to meet the changing nature of libraries while respecting and reviving its historic character.
Long Beach City Hall. Photo by Adrian Scott Fine/L.A. Conservancy

Long Beach Civic Center

Designed by a consortium of local architects, the Long Beach Civic Center is an excellent example of Late Modern architecture and civic planning.