Monday, January 28, 2013

Firenze Gardens, 5218-5230 Sunset Blvd., William J. Dodd, Architect, 1918

Firenze Gardens, 5218-5230 Sunset Blvd., William J. Dodd, architect. Photographer unknown, ca. 1922. From Los Angeles Public Library photo collection.

While in Los Angeles during July 1921, Frank Lloyd Wright stayed at the Firenze Gardens Apartments (see above and below) for a few weeks while checking on the status of his nearby Olive Hill projects and meeting with Barnsdall.  Firenze Gardens was designed by William J. Dodd for whom Frank's son Lloyd (see below) periodically performed landscape design work between 1914 and 1921. (Lloyd Wright, Architect: 20th Century Architecture in an Organic Exhibition by David Gebhard and Harriette Von Bretton, Art Galleries, University of California, Santa Barbara, 1971, pp. 22-24). 

Firenze Court ad, Arrowhead Magazine, February 1918.

Lloyd quite possibly designed the landscaping for Firenze Gardens as he was at the time of his father's stay designing the landscapes for Dodd's personal residence and the residence Dodd designed for Kenneth Preuss in Laughlin Park (see below). Dodd's Firenze Gardens design received an Honorable Mention in Architect and Engineer's 1920 annual architecture awards competition. (Jennings, Frederick, "The Architecture and Landscape Architecture of Los Angeles and Vicinity," Architect and Engineer, August 1920, pp. 47-117. For much more on Dodd and Wright see my "Edward Weston, R. M. Schindler, Anna Zacsek, Lloyd Wright, Reginald Pole and Their Dramatic Circles").

Lloyd Wright, ca. 1920. From "The Blessing and the Curse" by Thomas S. Hines in Lloyd Wright: The Architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright, Jr. edited by Alan Weintraub, Abrams, 1998, p. 14.

William J. Dodd, ca. 1902. From Wikipedia.

Dodd was possibly known by the elder Wright from his earlier days in the Midwest and was also known to Schindler as Wright had asked Schindler to deliver his mail and update him on the status of contracts at Firenze, "the place that Dodd Built." (FLW pencil note to RMS, Frank Lloyd Wright, n.d., from Correspondence With R. M. Schindler 1914-1929, Special Collections Getty Research Institute). (Author's note: Dodd had recently been appointed by the Governor to the State Board of Architecture replacing retiring F. L. Roehrig. "Architect Named; W. F. [sic] Dodd Appointed to State Board by Governor," Los Angeles Times, October 24, 1919, P. II-11).

Garden for W. J. Dodd, Laughlin Park, Lloyd Wright, landscape architect, 1921. Gebhard, p. 7.

Dodd was just finishing remodeling his former palatial residence in Laughlin Park he sold to Cecil B. De Mille in 1919 and completing new Laughlin Park houses for Kenneth Preuss and himself, and the Pacific Mutual Life Building during Wright's stay at Firenze Gardens. Possibly unbeknownst to the senior Wright, the seriously Hollyhock-moonlighting Lloyd was commissioned by both Dodd and Preuss to design the landscapes for their Laughlin Park estates (see above for example). (For much more on Lloyd's relationship with Dodd whom he most likely met while working for Irving Gill on the Laughlin Park subdivision planning in 1912-13 see my "Irving Gill, Homer Laughlin and the Beginnings of ModernArchitecture in Los Angeles, Part II, 1911-1916").
"Dodd's buildings are to be found in the old downtown financial district around Pacific Center, around Hollywood in Laughlin Park and Hancock Park, to the west in Rustic Canyon and Playa del Rey, Long Beach, San Gabriel, and Altadena." (Wikipedia).
Los Angeles Herald Examiner Building, 1915. Julia Morgan, William J. Dodd and J. M. Haenke, architects.
"From as early as 1893, and to the end of his life, Dodd was a mentor to talented younger designers who were new to the profession, designers with now well-known names like Lloyd Wright, Thomas Chalmers Vint, and Adrian Wilson, often outsiders without a developed practice and contending with a new client base and fast evolving licensing standards in cities enjoying rapid expansion as was Louisville after the American Civil War and Los Angeles after World War I. The architect Julia Morgan, a mostly free-lance architect from upstate San Francisco, and rare as a female in a male-dominated domain, formed a team with W. J. Dodd and J. M. Haenke as her Los Angeles facilitators and design partners for William Randolph Hearst's Los Angeles Herald-Examiner Building, a landmark downtown project completed in 1915 (see above)." (Wikipedia).
San Gabriel Mission Playhouse, San Gabriel, 1927. Dodd & Richards, architects.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Outside In: The Architecture of Smith and Williams, UC-Santa Barbara Art Museum, April 13 - June 16, 2013 and "Smith & Williams: An Annotated Bibliography"

Whitney R. Smith, Alpha Rho Chi, USC El Rodeo, 1932. 

Whitney R. Smith demonstrating mok√© (rhymes with OK), a method of weaving plywood to form intricate designs from

Wayne R. Williams. Photo courtesy Communi-k Inc. via Architectural Record.

Smith & Williams office, 1414 N. Fair Oaks, South Pasadena, 1958. Photo by Jocelyn Gibbs, 2012.

Smith & Williams decisively shaped the modern vocabulary of architecture in post-war Pasadena and Los Angeles County. Working in the wake of the first generation of avant-garde architects in Southern California and riding the postwar building boom, the partners Whitney R. Smith, erstwhile Case Study House architect (see below) and Wayne R. Williams developed a pragmatic modernism that, through remarkable site planning and design, integrated landscape and building. Despite the significance of their work, “Outside In” is the first monographic study of Whitney Smith and the Smith and Williams firm. Co-curators Jocelyn Gibbs and Christina Chiang will draw on the extensive archives within the museum's Architecture and Design Collection.   

Case Study House No. 6, "Loggia House," Whitney R. Smith, 1946. (Project). From Modern California Houses: Case Study Houses, 1945-1962 by Esther McCoy, Reinhold, 1962, p. 27.

Whitney R. Smith, ca. 1962, photographer unknown (Julius Shulman?). From Modern California Houses: Case Study Houses, 1945-1962 by Esther McCoy, Reinhold, 1962, p. 208.

Besides his partnership with Williams, Smith also collaborated with A. Quincy Jones and Edgardo Contini between 1948 and 1950 on the Mutual Housing Association (see below) planned community in Crestwood Hills in Brentwood.

Mutual Housing Association marketing brochure, ca. 1949. From Crestwood Hills.

Robert Crowell Residence, Smith & Williams, architects, Sunset, May 1954, front cover. Julius Shulman Job No. 1611, October 27, 1953.

Outside In: the Architecture of Smith and Williams is part of Pacific Standard Time Presents: Modern Architecture in L.A.  This collaboration, initiated by the Getty, brings together several local arts institutions for a wide-ranging look at the postwar built environment of the city as a whole, from its famous residential architecture to its vast freeway network, revealing the city’s development and ongoing impact in new ways. The dynamic duo's work is finally being given the recognition it deserves with an exhibition Outside In: The Architecture of Smith and Williams at the Art, Design & Architecture Museum at UC-Santa Barbara. The exhibition will run from April 13 to June 16.

Tract home kitchen by Smith & Williams for merchant builder George Buccola, House & Home, February 1956, front cover. Photo by Julius Sulman. 

Once I ran across the press release for this exhibition I remembered that Julius Shulman was the photographer of choice for this dynamic duo. Smith & Williams early on recognized the importance of good photography in marketing their modernist vocabulary of architecture in postwar Pasadena and Los Angeles County and commissioned Shulman for over 50 assignments during their most productive years between 1947 and 1964. Performing a Smith & Williams search in my 8,000 item Julius Shulman bibliography and 800 Shulman cover photos turned up 130 articles and numerous cover photos which went into the Smith & Williams bibliography below. 

McCoy, Esther, "What I Believe...A Statement of Architectural Principles," Los Angeles Times Home Magazine, January 8, 1956,  pp. 57-8.

Esther McCoy featured the duo's work in her monthly "What I Believe" column in the Los Angeles Times in 1956 (see above), a feather in any architect's cap.

Smith and Williams, Mobil gas station (Anaheim, Calif.), 1957, Photograph by Julius Shulman, Job No. 2202, May 8, 1956.

There is a companion show, "Gas Station Design, a Tour through the Collection, 1930-1965" which will run from February 15 through May 12 curated by Christina Chiang. 

Click on the below highlighted link directly below to access bibliography.