Sunset Lanai Apartments
Edward Fickett was one of the most prolific and influential Modernist architects in Southern California, responsible for designing thousands of single-family tract houses, apartment buildings, and commercial buildings. He is also one of the most underappreciated, partly because he rarely sought publicity and partly because some people looked down on housing tract work.
Among his designs was the Sunset Lanai apartment complex in West Hollywood, constructed in 1952 by developer George Alexander. The two-story, twenty-two-unit building faces inward with its back toward the busy intersection of Sweetzer Avenue and Sunset Boulevard. Its courtyard is a quiet oasis with a pool and tropical plants to soften the urban surroundings. The building features floor-to-ceiling windows, low-pitched roofs, and typical Fickett features like custom outdoor light features, geometric handrails along outdoor balconies, and built-in cabinets. The apartments even include custom desk lamps, specially chosen kitchen appliances, and “boomerang”-patterned Formica countertops.
Fickett was known for his attention to detail and for his adherence to Modern principles that brought the inside outside and facilitated the easy flow of daily life. The Mid-Century Modern Sunset Lanai building is a great example of Fickett’s multi-family residential work.
The building is currently locked in a preservation battle between those who want to designate it as a local landmark and the owner, who objects to its designation. Regardless of opinion, it’s hard to deny the importance of Edward Fickett’s contributions to the built environment of postwar Los Angeles.