Hines, Professor of History and Architecture at UCLA, is one of the foremost historians of the State’s built environment, has essentially written an epic visual essay that charts the arrival, absorption, evolution and maturation of Los Angeles’s style, with its rich vernacular tradition, broad sympathy for avant-garde thinking and even richer pool of clients.
Throw in the city’s burgeoning commercial style and the ongoing impact of the vast freeway system, and you have a thorough and fascinating social history of architecture’s impact on a very particular place - there’s far more to LA than just the Case Study Homes (although obviously they get extensive coverage).
Over 700 pages long, Architecture of the Sun eschews crisp Shulman-esque imagery in favour of more informal photographs and historical snaps (we could have done with a few more plans and drawing).
This story of a building culture that favoured iconism long before it was adopted as a sign of economic zest implies that LA will always be a Petri dish of innovation.
Hines quotes Tom Wolfe as saying that ’there’s enough severity in a city anyway without striving for it in architecture,’ and the many various and splendid forms of Twentieth Century Los Angeles would seem to bear this out.
Architecture of the Sun: Los Angeles Modernism 1900-1970, Thomas S.Hines, Rizzoli International Publications, £60.