Nov 11, 2009

Los Angeles Conservancy celebrates 50 years of 1960s architecture in Greater Los Angeles

Next year, the Sixties turn 50. To mark this occasion, the Los Angeles Conservancy and its Modern Committee have created a nine-month educational and outreach program to celebrate and explore preservation issues surrounding these buildings. This birthday is significant because 50 is the widely accepted age threshold for buildings to be considered “historic.” The program includes a fall tour which was hosted last Sunday, November 8th. “It’s a Mod, Mod, Mod, Mod City” took guests on a self-driving tour around the Westchester and Culver City areas to explore hidden gems representing Los Angeles’ rich architectural heritage from this era. Docent led tours were held at a number of sites along the route.

The Proud Bird Restaurant (Photo: Irene Chen)
Highlights of the tour included:

The Proud Bird Restaurant (1967) – 11022 South Aviation Boulevard, Westchester
Destination restaurants with themes, such as Polynesian, pirate, and mining, began to pop up all over Southern California in the 1960s. The Proud Bird is an aviation-themed restaurant near the LAX runway. Almost every seat in The Proud Bird gives its diners a view of the take-offs and landings. Patrons can listen in on the action through headsets connected to the LAX control tower. The grounds hold many historic aircraft and replications, and the interior details the history of flying and the aerospace industry in the South Bay through photos and memorabilia. It also pays tribute to famous fliers such as the Tuskegee Airmen and General James Doolittle.

LAX Theme Building under renovation (Photo: Irene Chen)
LAX Theme Building (1961) – 201 Center Way, LAX
This Los Angeles icon was first built as the symbolic center of Los Angeles International Airport. Under renovation since 2007 when a chunk of one of the arches fell onto the roof, the building is scheduled to be completed in 2010. The tour included a visit to the space age-themed Encounter Restaurant and a very special visit to the observation deck which has been closed since September 11, 2001. Plans to reopen the observation deck to the public are still unknown.

Flight Path Learning Center and Museum (formerly LAX Imperial Terminal) – 6661 West Imperial Highway, Westchester
This space has served many purposes throughout the years. From 1951 to 1965, Northrop Aircraft used it as an operations facility. Next, it was used as a terminal for charter flights and foreign carriers and for presidents, sports teams and celebrities due to its remote location. Today, The Flight Path Museum contains a large collection of airline memorabilia as well as a vintage DC-3 aircraft where visitors can step back in time and even take the controls in the cockpit.

Interior of St. Jerome Catholic Church's sanctuary
(Photo: Irene Chen)
St Jerome Catholic Church (1966) – 5580 Thornburn Street, Westchester
Architect Raymond Whalley created an innovative round church with a folded-plate roof. The nontraditional shape of the sanctuary creates a strong sense of community among parishioners.
Other sites along the route included Otis College of Art and Design (formerly IBM Aerospace Headquarters), Holy Cross Cemetery, and The Forum.
More events and actitivies are in the works including a spring tour of residential gems of the sixties scheduled to occur on March 14, 2010.
                        The Sixties Turn 50
                           Los Angeles Conservancy's Modern Committee

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