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Friday, August 2, 2013

Space-Age Buildings: LA and Rome




 RST spends time in both Rome and Los Angeles, very different cities that share traffic problems but, seemingly, little else. 

We found another connection.  Each city has an iconic, well-known, mid-century, high-modernist,  dome-like building that utilizes powerful, dominant exterior supports.  Both were constructed at
Garry Winogrand's famous 1964 photo
about the same time, and both have a space-age look consistent with the era but nonetheless rare.  We can think of no other building, anywhere, that has all these characteristics.  If you're aware of one, let us know.  

The LA building is known (rather oddly) as the "Theme Building."  It sits near the entrance/exit of Los
Looks like an artists's conception
Angeles International Airport (known to locals as LAX) and houses a Jetsons-like (the program began in 1962) restaurant in its core - Encounter (managed in part, we might add, by Buffalo-based Delaware North Companies).  Credit for the innovative design is usually given to an architectural firm headed by William Pereira and Charles Luckman.  But there were other firms involved in this "team" effort, including Welton Becket and Paul R. Williams, the black architect, and web sites say the "real" credit for the design should go to James Langenheim--or Gin Wong--both of Pereira and Luckman.   The building opened in 1961. 

Prosaic during the day

Its Rome counterpart is the Palazzetto dello Sport, completed in 1958 for the 1960 Rome Olympic games.  It isn't quite as fanciful as the Theme Building, except perhaps at night, when interior light flows through the glass windows beneath the dome.  But an impressionable (and stoned) foreign student, coming upon the structure suddenly and after dark, might wonder if the Martians had landed. 

In this case the lead designer is known: Italian Pier Luigi Nervi.   Bill

See earlier posts on the Palazzetto and the 1960 Olympics.


Compelling at night

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