The Beverly Hills Civic Center is a wildly ambitious, yet flawed, project that one imagines would never be built in today’s environment of hard-nosed spreadsheets. Betraying Charles Moore’s signature theatricality, it is packed with idiosyncratic and mannerist architectural expressions, and draws more inspiration from Rome’s Baroque period than the more obvious local traditions of Spanish Revival or City Beautiful movements.
St Matthew’s Episcopal Church in Pacific Palisades is one of the more prominent projects in Charles Moore’s oeuvre, perhaps more as an illustration of his inclusive and interactive community-based design process than for its architectural form. However, St Matthew’s confidently expresses more architectural ideas and a larger urban presence than its suburban location would suggest.
Plaza Las Fuentes, located just east of City Hall, is one of the more under-appreciated works of architecture in Pasadena. Its 360-room hotel and adjacent office tower slip into the Civic Center quietly with a comfortable grace. Much of this comfort – which is architectural but also tactile – is derived from a masterful site plan, organized around public courtyards, gardens, fountains, terraces, arcades, and lobbies.
Charles Moore’s 1990 Civic Center is a delightful discovery in sleepy Oceanside California. Located at the center of town, Moore’s Irving Gill-inspired buildings surround a great plaza and fountain.
Last week the Glendale City Council approved two mixed-use projects, each located at significant infill sites within the city’s urban centers. The Triangle will anchor the Tropico Station district surrounding the Glendale Metrolink/Amtrak stop. The second will fill a vacant lot and chronic hole in the middle of the Brand Boulevard downtown retail district.
The CalTrans building is a work-a-day office for the regional bureaucratic functions of the state’s transportation department. As such, it is most appropriately viewed against the offices of other large regional agencies, like the Department of Water and Power. In this context, Morphosis has created the most stunning architectural expression of bureaucratic power Los Angeles has seen in decades.
Commentary published in “Los Angeles: Building the Polycentric City” for the 13th Congress of New Urbanism, June 2005