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Top 11 Architecture Sights: Los Angeles and Southern California

America's Favorites


These architectural sights were selected as finalists in the AIA's America's Favorite Architecture contest. They are listed in order of popularity in their poll.

Hotel del Coronado, San Diego

Hotel del Coronado
© Betsy Malloy 2006
1500 Orange Avenue
Coronado, CA

Elisha Babcock and H.L. Story wanted to build a seaside resort that would be "the talk of the Western world." They may have succeeded.

See It: The public areas are open to anyone

Hearst Castle, San Simeon

Courtesy of Hearst San Simeon State Historical Monument
San Simeon, CA

Designed by architect Julia Morgan for newspaperman William Randolph Hearst, it houses an impressive collection of art and artifacts and is all the more impressive considering how hard it was to get materials to the remote site.

See It: The "castle" and its surrounding buildings are a state park and they offer tours daily.

Crystal Cathedral, Garden Grove

Courtesy of the Crystal Cathedral
12141 Lewis Street
Garden Grove, CA

Designed by architect Philip Johnson, some call it "religious reinterpretation of the crystal palace."

See It: Guided tours are given Monday through Saturday

Gamble House, Pasadena

©2010 Betsy Malloy Photography. Used by Permission.
4 Westmoreland Place
Pasadena, CA

A fine example of American Arts and Crafts style architecture, Gamble House was designed in 1908 by Charles and Henry Greene for David and Mary Gamble (Procter and Gamble).

See It: Tours are given Thursday-Sunday

Union Station, Los Angeles

© 2007 Betsy Malloy Photography. Used by Permission
800 N. Alameda
Los Angeles, CA

Partly designed by John and Donald B. Parkinson, it was the last great railway station to be built and not the grandest, but it's been in so many films that we all recognize it when we see it.

See It: Open any time. Los Angeles Conservancy offers guided tours once a month.

Hollywood Bowl

Courtesy of Hodgetts + Fung
2301 North Highland Avenue
Hollywood, CA

Originally a temporary structure designed by Lloyd Wright, the nested quarter-spheres form a fitting backdrop for the caliber of artists who perform on its stage.

See It: The best way is to attend a concert.

Getty Center, Los Angeles

© Betsy Malloy 2001
1200 Getty Center Drive
Los Angeles, CA

Designed by architect Richard Meier, this complex occupies an entire hilltop just off fabled Sunset Blvd. We think it's one of the greatest outdoor spaces in Southern California, with the architecture eclipsing the collection it houses.

See It: Closed Mondays and some holidays. Special architecture tours given daily.

Disney Concert Hall, Los Angeles

© 2007 Betsy Malloy Photography. Used by Permission
111 South Grand Avenue
Los Angeles, CA

Funded by the Disney family to honor Walt Disney and designed by architect Frank Gehry, it's one of the most dramatic sights in downtown Los Angeles. Sinuous shapes in shiny metal lend themselves to interpretations ranging from blooming flower to sailing ship, but ultimately, it's up to the viewer.

See It: Go for a performance, take a complimentary audio or a guided tour, offered most days, unless there's a matinee performance

Los Angeles Central Library

630 W. 5th Street
Los Angeles, CA

Architect Bertram Grosvenor Goodhue designed it to in the style of ancient Egypt. In the early 1990s, it was expanded in what renovation architect Norman Pfeiffer called "Modernist/Beaux Arts style."

See It: The library is open daily. Docent-led tours are given daily.

Hollyhock House

© 2007 Betsy Malloy Photography. Used by Permission.
4800 Hollywood Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA

One of Frank Lloyd Wright's most important designs, it's built of textile blocks in the style of a Mayan temple.

See It: Public tours given Wednesday through Sunday, but closed on all major holidays.

Stahl House, Hollywood

© 2008 Betsy Malloy Photography. Used by Permission.
1635 Woods Drive
Los Angeles, CA

Designed by Pierre Koenig, it's often called Case Study House #22. Its minimalist style and linear design elements connect with the grid of Los Angeles streets which can be seen from the windows.

See It: It's a private residence and not easy to see from the street.

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