We have reached that point in history when we must start thinking about 1960’s architecture as historic. The difficulty this presents is that we also think of 1960’s architecture as ugly and shoddy. Much of it was not built to last, and much of it should probably be torn down, and good riddance to it. But the 60’s era still produced some memorable works. Some are monumental despite being somewhat bland (e.g., the downtown Music Center); some are fun and whimsical (coffee shops and fast food restaurants); and some spectacular in their “space age” beauty (think of the LAX Theme Building, or a number of cliff-hanging houses). I was active in representing the Los Angeles Conservancy in the fight to save the Cinerama Dome, a unique and fabulous 1960’s structure, and as a result, that building is now the centerpiece of a thriving, state of the art, theatre complex.
The current owners of the Century Plaza Hotel, another iconic 1960’s masterpiece, are now considering tearing it down and replacing it with two new towers. (Click on the title of this post for a link to the Los Angeles Conservancy issues page discussing the threat to this piece of history.) Designed by the same architect who designed the World Trade Center towers and LA’s own twin towers across the street from the hotel, here is a building that symbolizes an era, that stands as one of the centerpieces of an important 1960’s new downtown, Century City, and that hosted numerous important events, including being thought of as Ronald Reagan’s “Western White House.” Not only that, the structure, in contrast to much 1960’s architecture, is undeniably beautiful. If we are thoughtless enough to allow this landmark to be torn down, we would be destroying yet another prominent marker of our time and place.