Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Looking Back At -- And Preserving -- 1960s Los Angeles Architecture

The Los Angeles Conservancy and its Modern Committee is about to launch “The Sixties Turn Fifty,” a nine-month initiative to celebrate the city's 1960s-era architecture -- and promote its preservation.

The timing of the celebration -- which marks the 50th anniversary of the 1960s -- comes as developers continue to threaten the demise of the 1960s-era Century City Plaza Hotel.

"The Sixties Turn Fifty" kicks off on Sept. 30 at 8 p.m. with a discussion at the Department of Water and Power Building (A.C. Martin & Associates, 1965; below) in downtown Los Angeles. Experts in architecture, preservation, and SoCal modernism will examine critical issues facing 1960s preservation.
RSVP for the free event here.

A few more upcoming "The Sixties Turn Fifty" events:

It’s a Mod, Mod, Mod, Mod, Mod City - Sunday, November 8, 2009
One-time-only self-driving tour of a range of 1960s buildings, with docent-led tours at each stop

Spring Tour – Sunday, March 14, 2010
One-time self-driving tour featuring the residential gems of 1960s Los Angeles, with docent-led tours at each stop

Last Remaining Seats – Wednesdays, May 26 - June 30, 2010
Sixties films integrated into this annual series of classic films in historic theatres

Annual Meeting – June 2010
Free event at a 1960s location, featuring a preservation year in review

The Conservancy notes that the 50th anniversary means 1960s-era structures will now be officially considered old enough to have acquired historic significance, particularly in terms of the National Register of Historic Places. The org writes:

The 1960s were an exciting time for Los Angeles and the country. L.A. came of age as a modern metropolis with a new freeway system, flourishing aerospace industry, and booming population.

The City of Los Angeles created its Cultural Heritage Ordinance in 1962, becoming one of the first cities in the U.S. to do so. The National Historic Preservation Act followed in 1966. While preservation protections were put into place, architects were experimenting with new materials and designing large-scale developments across the county. Sixties modernism was perfectly suited to the optimism and ambition of postwar Los Angeles.

Despite its early foray into the world of historic preservation, Los Angeles doesn’t have a strong track record in protecting its historic resources, particularly those of the 1960s. The region has lost a number of important sixties structures, from commercial buildings to significant homes like the Irving Stone Residence in Beverly Hills (Richard Dorman & Associates, 1961). Several sixties structures are currently threatened, most notably the 1966 Century Plaza Hotel.

The Conservancy also notes success stories from recent years -- such as the preservation of the Cinerama Dome, which was also threatened with destruction.

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