Monday, November 17, 2014


Mid-Century Modern State Playhouse at CSULA

"Mid-Mod-Col" is my new word for Mid-Century Modern College Campus architecture.  Larry and I attended a performance at Cal State University at Los Angeles (CSULA) on Saturday night (more about the performance tomorrow).  I'd visited Cal State LA a few times in the last 20 years, for art exhibitions at their Fine Arts Gallery and performances at the Luckman Auditorium, but I'd never REALLY looked at the architecture on campus.

Most of the universities that I'm familiar with (Cal State SD, USC, UCLA, Occidental, PCC and SMC) have multiple decades' worth of buildings on-site.  One of my favorite oldies is Bovard Auditorium at USC, built in 1921 in the Italian Romanesque Revival style. This is probably because it reminds me of my elementary school.  All of the above campuses have revival architecture or WPA/Art Deco styles from the 20's through the late 1930s.  There are buildings in the clean and spare Mid-Century Modern style of the 1950s through the mid- 60s; chunky Brutalism  popular during the late 1960s through the 1970s; giving way to High-Tech or Post-Modern architecture of the 1980s with it's sweeping roof lines, asymmetrical sight-lines to the Neo-Modernism of the 1990s and early 2000s which harkens back to the aesthetics of Mid-Century design of the 60s.  I appreciate it all, but the Mid-Century Modern design of the 1950s and 60s holds a special place in my heart.  This was the style being built in Los Angeles when I was a kid and my Dad was in the building business.  My tastes were greatly influenced by listening to Dad speak about his different jobs during the building boom in Los Angeles at this time.
Rear portion of the State Playhouse at CSULA

Back to our Cal State LA visit on Saturday.  As we waited in the lobby of the Small Theater to take our seats for the performance, we noticed other buildings surrounding the quad.  I did not see any architecture from the decades before 1950.  I had to look up the college on my pocket-computer to see that it was founded in 1947, built on land once owned by the Basque rancher, Juan Bautista Batz who acquired the area through a Spanish land grant and named it Rancho Rosa Castilla for the wild rose growing near the ranch house.

Here's a timeline for the campus.  Originally, Cal State LA was on the campus of LACC, Vermont Avenue near Melrose.  Groundbreaking for this particular campus was in 1955.  
Aha!  That's why so many of the buildings remind me of my youth.
I love the light fixture that looks like Saturn!

I want a fiberglass umbrella, table and chairs in my backyard!

VERY new building at CSULA

So often, we do not really look at the buildings we're walking into, especially institutional buildings!  I must take a tour of the campus during daylight hours to absorb the modern decades of buildings on the campus of CSULA.

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