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Architecture of the Sun: Los Angeles Modernism 1900-1970 Hardcover – Large Print, May 25, 2010

4.8 out of 5 stars 14 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


“Los Angeles’s modernist architecture is defined by the city’s climate, opulence and clash of cultures…Thomas Hine’s new Architecture of the Sun: Los Angeles Modernism, 1900-1970 (Rizzoli) is a thorough study of the work of Schindler, Neutra, Wright and the inimitable John Lautner. It is also a study in fine living. Chilled cocktail, anyone?” ~Playboy

"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

About the Author

Thomas S. Hines is Professor Emeritus of History and Architecture at UCLA, where he teaches cultural, urban, and architectural history. His books include Irving Gill and the Architecture of Reform and Richard Neutra and the Search for Modern Architecture. Hines has held Guggenheim, Fulbright, NEH, and Getty fellowships. In 1994 he was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

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Product Details

  • Series: Architecture of the Sun: Los Angeles Modernism 1900-1970 by Thomas S. Hines | Rizzoli | 2010
  • Hardcover: 756 pages
  • Publisher: Rizzoli; 1st edition (May 25, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0847833208
  • ISBN-13: 978-0847833207
  • Product Dimensions: 11 x 2.4 x 10.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #457,793 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Robin on October 12, 2010
By any criteria this has to be considered a monumental study and because of its thoroughness it will surely become the standard reference on LA modernism up to 1970. This year wasn't just chosen as an arbitrary cut-off point but as the author explains in his Epilogue: it coincided with the conclusion of the Case Study Houses program. CSH, least as far as housing went, was the culmination of all the modernism that preceded it; it was the year Richard Neutra died (also Welton Becket died in 1969); around 1970, according British critic Reyner Banham, modernism ceased to be a major worldwide architectural influence.

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.
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When I first got the book I was disappointed. Most of the images are so-so, and there is, inexplicably, a dearth of floor plans. Is anything more frustrating regarding a book on architecture?

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!
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In recent years it has become increasingly apparent that Southern California and Los Angeles in particular, have emerged as leading areas for the development of topline architectural work, particularly in the area of residential real estate. After all, A-listers like Frank Lloyd Wright, Richard Neutra and Frank Gehry have been plying their craft in the area for decades. Now come two new books to educate and elucidate the epic works of building achievement that make the region what it is today.

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.
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