LAX – Theme Building – Update

William Pereira, Charles Luckman, Paul Williams, Welton Becket, James Langenheim, LAX Theme Building, 1961, World N Way, Los Angeles

The terminal building at which we arrived was nothing special. The border controls were nothing unknown to most of us. Everything here could have happened or been at any place in the world – common airport architecture. A corridor here, a large window with a view onto the airfield there, a crowded arrival hall over there.

The first minutes in Los Angeles were quite ordinary.

We were looking for a driver to bring us to our hostel. We had not much time to look at the things around us. The first moments outside of the airplane did not promise any objects of interest.

As the taxi started to roll, we finally realized where we were. Now we had the opportunity to scan our surroundings without being forced to find a fast way to get from a to b. And then the moment arrived. The moment which showed that we were not anywhere on this planet. We were in Los Angeles. The taxi drove around a corner and we could look at the LAX Theme Building. We had just a few seconds to get an impression. Small and plump were the first words, which came to our minds. The Theme Building looked as if it was quite lost or had been unattentively dropped between the control tower and a lot of uninteresting constructions. I was in some way disappointed about the scale of the building, disappointed also about its surrounding.

Nevertheless, the expected function as a sign was still given. The Theme Building crushed the monotony of its place. It made us want to see more of the city. It had shown that we were in a city where modern architecture is much valued – on the most cases by the initiative of private owners.  A city which is open for contemporary architecture but somehow stuck in the middle of the last century. It has a lot of hidden places. Places you must look for. Because they are well hidden amongst ordinary constructions.

Julius Emmel

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