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Architecture of the Sun: Los Angeles Modernism 1900-1970 Hardcover – Large Print, May 25, 2010
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"If you coveted the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Ennis House in Los Angeles we wrote about last year, but didn't quite have the $15 million asking price, you should pick up a copy of Architecture of the Sun. The weighty tome, being published later this month by Rizzoli for $95, focuses on Los Angeles' many fine modernist masterworks built from 1900–1970." ~Luxist.com
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The thirteen chapters provide an in-depth look at the architects who created such wonderful houses and in later decade's commercial buildings in the Los Angeles area. The craft style of Green & Green in the first years of the last century kicks off the survey and by 1910 Irving Gill was designing clearly modernist structures and the style was on its way. Southern California with its wealth, climate and a group of progressive architects, in more than four decades, became the world center of the style.
I found the chapters on Irving Gill and Richard Neutra fascinating, both were heavyweight contributors to modernism in LA and get extensive coverage (the author has written books about both) also the Case Study Program as a potential solution to the housing problem of the times is explained in reasonable detail. An intriguing and worthwhile design concept instigated by John Entenza, the editor of Arts & Architecture magazine. I always thought it looked a rather amateurish publication yet it nourished this amazing program of contemporary housing.
The book itself is big, chunky and well printed on a matt art with a 175 screen for the hundreds of photos.Read more ›
Later I started to actually read the book, and my opinion wholly improved! There was a lot I'd not read elsewhere, and the various architects came alive in way they normally don't in more academic-like studies. In particular I enjoyed the chapter on Schindler. I had believed the All-Important Schindler Myth: greater fame had been essentially stolen from him by his former friend/colleague, the nefarious Neutra. But the book makes it clear that it was more complicated than that, and that Schindler himself can be principally blamed for a failure to better understand and coddle important editors and writers. It's fascinating and sad to read Schindler's letters to people who WANTED to publish/exhibit him. He basically insults them.
There's another interesting story of the once great Louis Sullivan at Wright's Taliesin. Wright spoke to his former boss "in tones of such deference and affection [that Sullivan] came out of his somber silence and knew himself to be once more loved, revered" - as noted by Pauline Schindler.
The book is filled with such gems.
I also very much appreciate that the author brings the reader up-to-date on many of the iconic structures in the book. While shocking to learn that a famous building has been demolished, it's uplifting when a famous building has been beautifully restored.
I rate the book five stars but would love to see it in a revised format with gorgeous, large images, a ton-o-plans, but the text unchanged. Now THAT would be a great great book!
Thomas Hines' "Architecture of the Sun" is an elaborate, coffee table sized volume detailing the rich history of regional design from the aforementioned players to a host of others who have contributed their significant works to the area. This 756 page tome covers Los Angeles Modernism from 1900 thru 1970 in a complete, robust, detailed and well research edition which, given its exhaustive presentation, may make it the most definitive volume ever produced on the subject. Hines, a Professor Emeritus of History and Architecture at UCLA, explores the region's adoption of the British school of Craftsman homes (still tremendously popular in the area), through the aforementioned Wright as well as disciples and followers like Rudolph Schindler, Neutra and the modernism of John Lautner - all kingpins of the region.
Hines dissects both the design and the historical context of the architects in a way that is both scholarly and completist making this book both a reflective work of art as well as arguably a study guide for architecture students as well.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
A must for any library devoted to architecture or design or Southern California. The text is concise and clearly written, with lots of informative details, and there are images... Read morePublished on July 17, 2013 by Carolina A. Miranda
This is a wonderful book. The author calls on four decades of interviews and discussions with many of the architects, along with his own acute observations of the buildings they... Read morePublished on March 5, 2013 by Michael S. McGill
For the next months (or perhaps year) Los Angeles is celebrating herself. The city is filled with exhibitions wither currently or in the next few weeks to focus on the... Read morePublished on October 16, 2011 by Grady Harp
This is a stunning book. I gave it to my husband, an architect, for his birthday, and he loves it. It's a valuable reference for anyone interested in California architecture.Published on May 2, 2011 by Patricia Conwell
Contrary to the other reviewers I found this book to be a big disappointment, although if the weight of the paper stock on which this book were printed were cause for quality - it... Read morePublished on March 2, 2011 by Luigi Facotti
Wonderful book! It covers just about everything in Mid-Century Modern Architecture in Southern California. Read morePublished on February 19, 2011 by styler
Excellent reference book of the City of Angels. Detailed history of important buildings in the Modern period. Excellent. Highly recommended.Published on January 29, 2011 by Don't have one