Resource Description

Resource Summary

Names
West Los Angeles Civic Center Historic District (Primary)
West Los Angeles Administrative Center, West Los Angeles Branch City Hall, West Los Angeles Civic Center (Alternative)
Resource Types
District
Important Dates
No dates recorded
Keywords (Subjects)
Allison & Rible
Albert Criz
suburbanization
1960s
1950s
Post World War II
municipal
1949 Master Plan of Branch Administrative Centers

Location Information

Addresses
Location Description
No descriptions recorded
Administrative Areas
West Los Angeles Community Plan Area (Community Plan Area)
Los Angeles City Council District 11 (Council District)
WEST LOS ANGELES NEIGHBORHOOD COUNCIL (Neighborhood Council)
W. LOS ANGELES NEIGHBORHOOD (Neighborhood)

Classification

Classification
No classifications recorded
Related Features
No features recorded

Resource Descriptions

General Description
Constructed between 1956 and 1965, the West Los Angeles Civic Center Historic District is generally bounded by Santa Monica Boulevard to the north, Corinth Avenue to the east, Iowa Avenue to the south and Butler Avenue to the west. Covering 31 parcels, the district is located in a commercial area along a heavily traveled commercial corridor on Santa Monica Boulevard. Designed in the Mid-Century Modern style, the complex of five buildings, including an amphitheater, community center, court building, city hall, and library as well as the pedestrian plaza that connects all five buildings, all contribute to the historic district. The thickly planted axial U-shaped central pedestrian plaza that extends along a portion of Purdue Avenue between Iowa Avenue and Santa Monica Boulevard retains many original features, such as metal post streetlights, concrete sidewalks and curbing, planting beds, and examples of mature vegetation. The period of significance is 1956 to 1965.

Summary of Significance
The West Los Angeles Civic Center Historic District is significant as a cohesive example of an administrative center in West Los Angeles that reflects the need for expanded civic services in the post-World War II era. It is also significant as an excellent example of Mid-Century Modern civic architecture designed by influential Los Angeles architects. The civic center complex was constructed as a joint development between the City and County of Los Angeles. Planning for the complex began at least as early as 1956 when the City began to see the need to decentralize to relieve the increasing demands on city services in the post World War II era. Construction of the various buildings and the associated plaza and landscaping began in 1957, when the land was cleared for construction, and continued until 1964.Thus the period of significance for this district is 1957 through 1964. The City and West Los Angeles civic boosters were so confident of the need for expansion in West Los Angeles that they envisioned the new civic center eventually expanding another block west to Sawtelle Boulevard, but this expansion did not occur. The City of Los Angeles completed the 1949 Master Plan of Branch Administrative Centers, which proposed 12 branch centers throughout the city to provide more convenient and efficient service to the public. A center in West Los Angeles was designated to serve the area bounded by Beverly Hills, Sunset Boulevard, the City of Santa Monica, and Culver City. A plan was prepared for the West Los Angeles Administrative Center with seven buildings, including an existing police department building. The West Los Angeles Civic Center was envisioned as a "Major Branch." Three new buildings idenfitied in the plan were constructed: a branch library, a municipal building, and a court building. The West Los Angeles Civic Center was opened in 1961. Clearly reflecting the aesthetics of Mid-Century Modern architecture, the complex of buildings comprising the West Los Angeles Civic Center Historic District conveys a sense of harmony among the contributing structures. The associated plaza and mall create two intersecting axes and thus play an essential role in unifying the separate buildings. The plaza and landscape was designed by Los Angeles architect Albert Criz, who also designed the West Los Angeles Courts Building and other postwar modernist buildings in Los Angeles. The West Los Angeles Regional Branch Library was completed by 1956 and was designed by the local architectural firm of Allison & Rible, which was responsible for several postwar-era buildings throughout Los Angeles. By 1958, plans were being drawn for the West Los Angeles Municipal Building. By 1961, the library, a new county courthouse, and a police building had been completed, with several other municipal structures in the planning stages. The Felicia Mahood recreation center (known variously today as the Senior Citizens Center, Senior Center, and Multipurpose Center) opened in 1962. Its name commemorates the editor and civic leader who worked to establish the center. The West Los Angeles Civic Center Historic District is an excellent example of the decentralization of Los Angeles city services to meet the needs of a geographically expanding city in the mid-twentieth century. The scale of the complex clearly reflects the City's commitment to fully serving the growing population of West Los Angeles with modern new infrastructure. The style of the individual buildings as well as their grouping and the unifying landscaping and plaza are representative of ambitious Mid-Century Modern government complexes that were being built throughout the world during those times of optimism for the future.


External System References

SurveyLA ID: 9ee4ba62-6bfe-40fe-9044-d3fb5404d63b

Resource Significance

Evaluation Details

Date Evaluated
2012-07-30
Context/Theme
Public and Private Institutional Development, 1850-1980
Government Infrastructure and Services, 1850-1980
Government Administration Buildings and Centers, 1904-1970
Post WWII Branch City Halls and Administration Centers, 1957-1970
Institutional - Government
Branch City Hall/Administrative Center
Eligibility Standards
  • May be jointly used/owned by city and county offices
  • A single City Hall building or administrative center which may include other services such as police, fire, library buildings and health centers
  • May also include significant landscape features and designs such as malls and plazas
  • May also be significant under a Modernism theme within the Architecture context
  • Centers feature a municipal building and may also have included a police station, fire station, branch library and/or health center or receiving hospital
  • Branch city offices located at branch city halls often included engineering, building and safety and city clerk
  • Should retain integrity of Feeling, Setting, Design, Location, and Association
  • Was developed during the Post WWII period as part of an overall City planning program to expand government services
  • Integrity Aspects
    Workmanship
    Feeling
    Association
    Materials
    Setting
    Location
    Retains sufficient integrity to convey significance
    Design
    California Historic Resources Status Codes (explanation of codes)
    3CS
    3S
    5S3
    Significance Statement
    Excellent and intact example of an branch civic center in West Los Angeles. Reflects the vision of the 1949 Master Plan of Branch Administrative Centers, which was intended to provide more efficient and convenient service to the public. Represents the expansion of government services to address the unprecedented economic and population growth in post-WWII era in Los Angeles.
    Periods of Significance
    From: 1956-01-01
    To: 1965-12-31

    Date Evaluated
    2012-04-13
    Context/Theme
    Architecture and Engineering, 1850-1980
    L.A. Modernism, 1919-1980
    Post-War Modernism, 1946-1975
    Mid-Century Modernism, 1945-1975
    District
    Eligibility Standards
  • The addition of security features such as screen doors and bars at windows
  • Retains the essential character defining features of Mid-Century Modernism from the period of significance
  • Floor-to-ceiling windows, often flush-mounted metal framed
  • Unornamented wall surfaces
  • Flat roof, at times with wide overhanging eaves
  • Direct expression of the structural system, often wood or steel post and beam
  • Simple, geometric volumes
  • Original garage doors may have been replaced
  • The addition of decorative elements to originally sparse façades
  • The painting of surfaces (wood) that might have originally been unpainted
  • Replacement of some windows and doors may be acceptable if the openings have not been resized and original fenestration patterns have not been disrupted
  • Original use may have changed
  • Original setting (surrounding buildings, landscape) may not be intact (this applies to individual resources only; buildings associated with corporate or institutional campuses must maintain integrity of setting)
  • Horizontal massing
  • Was constructed during the period of significance
  • Exhibits quality of design through distinctive features
  • Majority of buildings retain sufficient integrity to convey their significance
  • Integrity Aspects
    Feeling
    Association
    Workmanship
    Materials
    Setting
    Design
    Location
    Retains sufficient integrity to convey significance
    California Historic Resources Status Codes (explanation of codes)
    5S3
    3CS
    3S
    Significance Statement
    Excellent and intact example of a Mid-Century Modern style institutional architecture in West Los Angeles.
    Periods of Significance
    From: 1956-01-01
    To: 1965-12-31

    Related Resources

    Related Historic Resources

    West Los Angeles Courts Building (Building, District Contributor, is a contributor to / has as a contributor)
    West Los Angeles Civic Center Bandshell (Structure, District Contributor, is a contributor to / has as a contributor)
    Felicia Mahood Center (Building, District Contributor, is a contributor to / has as a contributor)
    West Los Angeles Regional Branch Library (Building, District Contributor, is a contributor to / has as a contributor)
    West Los Angeles Municipal Building (Building, District Contributor, is a contributor to / has as a contributor)
    West Los Angeles Civic Center Plaza (District Contributor, is a contributor to / has as a contributor)

    Related Historic Districts

    None

    Related Activities

    None

    Related Historic Events

    None

    Related People/Organizations

    Sapphos Environmental (Surveying Firm, was surveyed by / surveyed)

    Related Information Resources

    Images
    Documents
    SurveyLA: West Los Angeles Historic Resources Survey Report (Document/Text, is referred to in / refers to)