10 L.A. Area Architectural Atrocities

Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels in downtown L.A.
Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels in downtown L.A.

The Los Angeles area has lots of architectural gems. I even told you my 10 favorites in an earlier blog.

But the city has a bunch of design disasters, too – even beyond the strip malls and boxy apartments that litter our landscape. Here are 10 of my picks for the L.A. area’s architectural atrocities (in no particular order):

1. Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels in downtown L.A. It’s supposed to be a holy place. Inspirational. Religious. Not a coffin. Perhaps it’s a metaphor for your ride to heaven?

2. “Muddledterranean” mansions in Beverly Hills. The result of too much money and not enough taste, these homes have replaced so many elegant and historic styles, not only of “regular” people, but also of movie stars.

3. The Ballerina Clown Building in Venice. I understand the purpose of Postmodernism in its time, but Emmet Kelly meets the Bolshoi? Oy.

4. CVS Pharmacy on the corner of La Cienega and Santa Monica Boulevards in West Hollywood. This is a fine example of brutalism at its most brutal. (The building has had several previous incarnations, including a bowling alley and roller rink.)

5. The Staples Center, particularly at night, in downtown L.A.  Blinded by the light. . . A little slice of Vegas in our own backyard.

6. The Google Building (formerly Chiat/Day), also known as the Binoculars Building, in Venice. Broken branches and binoculars? Why?  It’s so ugly it hurts.

7. A house on the 2700 block of Westwood Boulevard. This English Tudor Revival is so out-of-scale for the neighborhood.  It looks like the Hansel and Gretel house that Henry VIII ate.

8. L.A. Trade Tech Business & Science Building in downtown L.A. Aren’t we supposed to be inspired to attend classes? How depressing.

9. (Stripes Part I) The retail structure at the corner of La Cienega and Melrose in West Hollywood. What’s with the stripes? Were they going for prison chic?

10. (Stripes Part II) Castillo del Lago in the Hollywood Hills. This structure, built in 1926, was at one time elegant. And then Madonna – or, more accurately, her brother Christopher Ciccone – decorated it with stripes that were supposedly inspired by a little church in Portofino. Changing what was a gorgeous old Spanish-style castle into a faux Italianate makes my skin crawl. By the way, the house has had an interesting history. For example, you can still see bullet holes in the woodwork of the entry hall that date back to the 1930s when Bugsy Siegel leased it.

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