Saturday, May 30, 2009

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Bradbury Building

The 1893 Bradbury Building, which was commissioned by mining millionaire Lewis Bradbury and built by novice architect George Wyman, is the oldest commercial building in downtown Los Angeles. The building's 50-foot high interior atrium features beautiful carved wood, terracotta tiles, and intricate wrought-iron grillwork.

The architect's inspiration for the design came in part from the 1887 science fiction novel Looking Backward by Edward Bellamy. The novel, which is set in the year 2000 and envisions the United States as a socialist utopia, describes buildings with interior atriums lit by natural light.

In the last several decades, the Bradbury Building has become a science fiction icon. A quick internet search finds it described as "the most famous building in science fiction" and a "real-life steampunk palace." The building has featured prominently in numerous comic books, television shows, and movies such as Blade Runner. Marvel Comics, along with the Los Angeles Police Department's Office of Internal Affairs, is one of the tenants that currently rents office space in the building.

The atrium has two open-cage elevators that originally ran on steam power. Here is a side view of one of the elevators traveling up the open-cage shaft:

Some closeups of the French-made ironwork:

Here is a view down into the lobby from the first floor landing. The lobby floor tiles are Mexican and the marble in the stairways is from Belgium.

In contrast to the ornate interior, the building's exterior is in the plain Romanesque style favored on the East Coast at the end of the 19th century:

There is more information about the history of the Bradbury Building on the Public Art in L.A. website. The building is located on the corner of 3rd Street and Broadway and is open to the public daily from 9-5. The offices in the building are still in use so visitors are only allowed in the lobby and up to the first landings on the stairwells.

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Sunday, May 10, 2009

Adamson House: Malibu Tiles

From the 1910s-1930s, hundreds of small potteries sprung up around Southern California to produce the tiles that were used in the era's popular Spanish revival and Mediterranean-style homes. One of the largest and most successful of the California tile companies was Malibu Potteries which operated from 1926-1932 and utilized the region's natural red clay.

The Adamson House is located in Malibu next to Surfrider Beach and is open to the public for tours. The Spanish revival architecture is nothing special, but the house's interior and exterior are decorated with hundreds of beautiful, original Malibu Pottery tiles.

A view of the Adamson House:

The most impressive and best-preserved tilework is in the interior of the house in the kitchen and the 5 bathrooms. Unfortunately, interior photography is not allowed so all of my photos are of the tiles that decorate the various exterior patios and courtyards. Many of the richly patterned tiles are inspired by traditional Spanish and Moorish designs or by Arts and Crafts flower motifs:

Many of these old tiles used toxic substances such as arsenic to achieve vibrant colors and glaze effects.

Individual tiles are set into the thick adobe walls around the doors leading out to the patios:

Here are some details of individual tiles which include flowers and vines, geometric patterns, and some modern designs:

This colorful peacock fountain is on the ground-level patio facing the beach:

A detail of the peacock's head:

A view of the tiles which form the right peacock on the fountain:

If you look closely at the left peacock's tail you can see that one of the tiles was placed upside down:

A hummingbird:

Details of the tilework along the edges of the fountain:

Another peacock-themed piece on one of the side patios:

Here is a detail of the Green Man fountain on the East side of the house. In the chipped section above the Green Man's head, you can see the Malibu red clay used for the tiles:

Below is a map with the Adamson House's location. The lagoon next to the house is full of hundreds of birds that love the mix of fresh water and sea water where Malibu Creek meets the Pacific Ocean. Information about tours and visiting hours are available at the Adamson House website.

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Malibu Creek State Park

Located 35 miles from downtown Los Angeles, Malibu Creek State Park used to be a ranch owned by Fox movie studios where TV shows and movies like M*A*S*H, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, and King Kong were filmed.

Here are some views of the creek's beautiful grassland valley:

A view of the M*A*S*H filming site:

There is a visitor's center located 1 mile from the parking lot that has information and maps about the park's campsites, rock climbing areas, and hiking/biking/equestrian trails. We did an easy 6 mile out-and-back hike to the M*A*S*H site with a short detour to Century Lake.

Here is a map with the entrance to the park labeled:

View Malibu Creek State Park in a larger map

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Cat of the Week: Allie

"Allie" of Venice Beach rolling around on Nowita Place, one of Venice's charming pedestrian streets:

More pictures and a map of Venice's hidden pedestrian streets are available on my Venice blog post.