West Los Angeles Civic Center
The West Los Angeles Civic Center is the product of the City's 1949 master plan to create branch administrative centers throughout the city to provide more convenient service to residents of the rapidly expanding metropolis. Built between 1957 and 1965, the civic center reflects the postwar growth of municipal services and the general optimism of the period, exemplified by its eye-catching Mid-Century Modern design.
The five-building complex's first edifice, a regional branch library, was designed by architectural firm Allison & Rible and was completed by 1956. The rest of the buildings and the overall landscape of the center appear to have been designed by architect Albert Criz, with completion of the court building and landscape in 1960, the branch City Hall in 1961, the community center in 1962, and the amphitheatre in 1965.
All of the buildings are in the Mid-Century Modern style and feature horizontal orientations, concrete construction, flat roofs, bands of windows, and glass entryways. The City Hall and court buildings are particularly notable for the decorative concrete grilles and geometric metal brise soleils which ornament their front façades. The most flamboyant structure is the amphitheatre, with a swooping, parabolic arch of a roof held aloft by tiled pillars and sheltering a small stage with curves to match. It looks for all the world like a miniature version of the famous Union 76 station in Beverly Hills.
The complex's buildings are connected and unified by a central pedestrian plaza and an intersecting mall, both paved in concrete and shaded by dense plantings of mature trees. This civic center is a great example of Mid-Century Modern architecture in an institutional context, and serves as an intact reminder of Los Angeles' rapid postwar expansion.