Of all the deserving submissions for the 34th Annual Los Angeles Conservancy Preservation Awards, seven L.A. County projects were awarded the decorated honor: two Richard Neutra designs (Hafley House in Long Beach and Kun House in Hollywood), Frank Lloyd Wright's Hollyhock House, the Pacific Electric Railway in Torrance, Downtown L.A.’s Rosslyn Hotel Apartments, the Lincoln Place Apartment Homes in Venice, the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts in Beverly Hills, and the LAUSD earned recognition for its Historic Context Statement.
Architect, historian, educator, and Dwell on Design speaker Alan Hess received the highest honor for his continued dedication to the preservation of midcentury buildings throughout Los Angeles County, and stretching beyond to Palm Springs and Las Vegas. Hess has consistently defended architecture’s underdogs, such as the coffee shops, ranch houses, and suburbs of postwar living, arguing they are a part of American culture.
A leader of midcentury modern preservation, Hess published his first book, Googie: Fifties Coffee Shop Architecture, in 1985. Hess has since become the “preeminent authority on Modern architecture and urbanism in the mid-twentieth century,” according to the Conservancy, and was one of the first to write about John Lautner, William Pereira, and Oscar Niemeyer.
This year, Hess has actively fought for the preservation of Norms La Cienega, a Googie-style coffee shop that recently earned a unanimous vote by the Cultural Heritage Commission to designate it a Historic-Cultural Monument. A long process is still ahead for the building, but recently more have spoke out in support of the cause, such as Mad Men creator Matthew Weiner, who publicly stated, “I made Mad Men with one agenda early on: Stop tearing stuff down. You’re gonna miss it.”
The L.A. Conservancy will host its awards luncheon on Thursday, May 7, at the Millennium Biltmore Hotel in downtown Los Angeles.
On Sunday, May 31, Hess will join the Conservancy’s Director of Advocacy, Adrian Scott Fine, to discuss Googie architecture and the battle over Norms La Cienega, at Dwell on Design.