Wells Fargo | Los Angeles Conservancy
Photo by Jessica Hodgdon/L.A. Conservancy

Wells Fargo

Architect Frank Gehry is best known for his large-scale public buildings like Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles and the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain, but some of his smaller buildings express his innovative ideas in even purer, more accessible forms. One such building is the World Savings and Loan building (now Wells Fargo Bank), located along a low-rise commercial corridor in Toluca Lake.

Completed in 1982, the bank is a deconstructed version of a building, looking at first more like a drawing of a building than the thing itself. Closer inspection proves it to be real, with unusually angled planes on the all-glass primary façade.

Gehry's design fragments the building into separate parts, with a rear one-story volume dominated by a two-story front façade that seems to balance precariously on its own as if someone forgot to finish the back of the structure. Light streams in through the front façade and through simple cut-out windows on the rear side of the second story, making the building appear to be illuminated from within at certain times of day. The black and clear glass components are rotated and angled to create a composition of light and shadow, not to mention very interesting reflections of the cars and pedestrians passing by.

1965 postcard view, courtesy Marcello Vavala.

Columbia Savings (Demolished)

This striking building was designed by architect Irving Shapiro, completed in 1965, and demolished in 2010.