View of LA skyline with Griffith Park in forefront

The history of Los Angeles in six architects

March 10, 2022

Known as the creative capital of the world, Los Angeles is a Mecca for ground-breaking architecture. Here we explore how the city’s most fascinating buildings have shaped and inspired the horizon of the City of Angels.

Bradbury Building: George H. Wyman

The backdrop of several movies, including the original Blade Runner, 500 Days of Summer and The Artist, the Bradbury Building is one of the oldest commercial properties in Los Angeles, dating back to 1893. Lewis Bradbury, a gold-mining millionaire, initially commissioned architect Sumner Hunt, and later George H. Wyman. As well as a Romanesque exterior, its dazzling interiors feature ornate iron railings, marble stairs and a light-filled atrium. The building is usually open to the public, and makes for a unique day out with tours ending at the Biddy Mason Memorial Park, opposite the early 20th century Grand Central Market.

304 South Broadway, Los Angeles, CA 90013

Iconic Bradbury staircase downtown LA
Hollywood Hollyhock artist house in LA

Hollyhock House: Frank Lloyd Wright

Designed by one of the 20th century’s greatest architects, Frank Lloyd Wright, Hollyhock House became the first UNESCO World Heritage Site in Los Angeles in 2019. Built between 1919 and 1921 for American oil heiress Aline Barnsdall, the design was inspired by seventh century Mayan temples and paved the way for groundbreaking architectural design. Curator Abbey Chamberlain Brach says, “It’s a harbinger of California Modernism and it introduced young architects Rudolph Schindler and Richard Neutra to Los Angeles.”

4800 Hollywood Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90027

Griffith Observatory LA: John C. Austin and Frederick Ashley

Perched on Mount Hollywood in Griffith Park and dominated by a massive dome, Griffith Observatory LA is an Art Deco icon with unrivalled views across the city. The businessman Griffith J. Griffith donated the building to the public in 1896 so visitors could experience the magic of astronomy. The observatory’s director Ed Krupp says, “It is the most visited public observatory in the world and has put more people’s eyeballs to the universe through a telescope than anywhere else on the planet.”

2800 East Observatory Road, Los Angeles, CA 90027

Panoramic view of Los Angeles downtown skyline viewed from Griffith Observatory.
Pool and exterior of the Stahl House in LA
Photo courtesy of The Stahl House

Stahl House: Pierre Koenig

Stahl House is one of Los Angeles’ most famous mid-century homes, seemingly floating above the city from the Hollywood Hills. Completed in 1959 by Pierre Koenig for Buck Stahl, it became the 22nd of 27 experimental homes sponsored by Arts & Architecture as part of the magazine’s Case Study House series, which ran from 1945 to 1966. Made of steel and glass – innovative at the time – Stahl House exemplifies Californian 20th century architecture. Buck’s daughter, Shari Stahl Gronwald, points out that it brought “experimentation, simplicity and innovation to Los Angeles at a time that was filled with hope and promise.”

1635 Woods Drive, Los Angeles, CA 90069

Walt Disney Concert Hall: Frank Gehry

The home of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Walt Disney Concert Hall has a striking yet playful exterior consisting of stainless steel curves wrapped around a steel frame. Completed in 2003, it’s considered architect Frank Gehry’s most ground-breaking achievement. The widow of Walt Disney, Lillian Disney, made a donation in 1987 to design the building in honour of her late husband, as a tribute to his passion for arts and culture. Head to the Blue Ribbon Garden where a rose-shaped fountain designed by Gehry is aptly named ‘A rose for Lilly.’

151 South Grand Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90012

Unique exterior of the Walt Disney Concert Hall in DTLA
Photo courtesy of Danny Clinch
View of Hotel's Crescent Wing from front drive on Sunset

The Beverly Hills Hotel: Paul R. Williams

Known as the ‘architect to the stars’, Paul R. Williams was highly sought-after by Hollywood’s elite, and became the first African American member of the American Institute of Architects (AIA) in 1923. He designed over 3,000 buildings worldwide, around 2,000 of which were in LA County. At The Beverly Hills Hotel, he introduced the signature pink and green look, followed by the famous hotel script in the 1950s on the Crescent building and front signage, which remain popular backdrops for photos today.

9641 Sunset Boulevard, Beverly Hills, CA 90210

From heritage buildings to modern marvels, Los Angeles is dotted with architectural landmarks. Explore the landscape of Los Angeles and discover the city’s incredible public art scene when you stay with us at The Beverly Hills Hotel or Hotel Bel-Air.

Back to Dorchester Collection Moments
More like this
Collect issue 28

Collect Magazine

View the latest issue of Collect, our bi-annual magazine featuring a curated mix of culture, art and lifestyle, together with the latest news from Dorchester Collection hotels.