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.