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Paul Revere Williams


Paul Revere Williams

One of the things we cherish about LA is its unabashed approach to architecture. The motley crew of buildings on any given block could reasonably be described as brutalist or Spanish revival or mid-century modern and none of this would be out of place. It’s a weird, beautiful mess of a thing, this city we call home, and we don’t often pause to think about just how it ended up this way. 

Paul Revere Williams (1894-1980) is, in large part, the reason why. He was the father of the built city of LA, and it wouldn’t be far-reaching to say that it was he who set the audacious tone for architecture in LA. Because he lived here during the dawn of the movie industry, during the build up and the destruction of the historic downtown core, and during the formation of the haunting web of LA freeways, Williams was able to bear witness to this city in its adolescence, when it was at its most impressionable. Because of this, any and all architectural styles were fair game to Williams and his collaborators, and Williams embraced this with an unprecedented ability. His accomplishments were many (he served as architect for the US Navy, he was the first African American member of the American Institute of Architects, he designed for Frank Sinatra & Lucille Ball..) and this city is forever indebted to his brilliant mind. 

Below are a few examples of Williams’ most iconic buildings and the ones from which we have sought most inspiration. It is impossible to capture the sum of his architectural parts, because his portfolio is simply so vast. To see more and learn about his impact on the landscape of LA, we highly recommend watching the PBS documentary, “Hollywood’s Architect”

 Paul Williams served on the board of architects designing the new LAX, completed in 1961

Roosevelt Naval Base, San Marino, 1943

LA County Courthouse (Joint venture with JE Stanton, Adrian Wilson, Austin, Field & Fry), 1955

Saks 5th Avenue, WIlshire Blvd, Los Angeles, 1930

La Concha Motel (now the Neon Museum), La Vegas, 1961

Al Jolson Shrine at Hillside Memorial Park, 1950

Shrine Civic Auditorium, Los Angeles, 1921

John B Green Residence, Los Angeles, 1927

Second Baptist Church, Los Angeles, 1925

Palm Springs Tennis Club (with A Quincy Jones), 1947

Palm Springs Tennis Club, 1947

Palm Springs Tennis Club, 1947

Paley Residence, Los Angeles, 1938

Zodiac Pool at the Paley Residence, Los Angeles, 1938

Zodiac Pool at the Paley Residence, Los Angeles, 1938

Zodiac Pool at the Paley Residence, Los Angeles, 1938

Beverly Hills YMCA, 1929

Paul Williams in the Fountain Club at the Beverly Hills Hotel, where he renovated and added what is known as the “Crescent” extension, 1949

Paul Williams (second from left) explaining his model of the Golden 

Poster of Paul R Williams from the Office of War Information, Domestic Operations Branch News Bureau, 1943

The following images are from the book Paul R. Williams, Architect: A Legacy of Style.

The following images are from the book Paul R. Williams: Classic Hollywood Style