Schlagwort-Archive: Venice

Beach Houses in Los Angeles


The beach is one of the Four Ecologies of Los Angeles as described by Banham. He states that the Angelenos like to spend a lot of time by the water. Banham compares the surfboard with the, for Los Angeles crucial, automobile. He writes that the Angeleno is ‘most himself’ when he is either on the Freeway or on the beach[1].

Needless to say, there are quite a few dwellings near the seafront of the Pacific Ocean, where people wanted to settle.

Some of the wealthier citizens might even own multiple houses. One on the beach and one in another part of the city. Like the physician Philip Lovell who commissioned a house near Griffith Park in the foothills by Richard Neutra and a Beach House by Rudolph Schindler, located in Newport Beach, California. Sadly we could not visit the latter on our trip.


Richard Neutra, Lovell Health House, CC by Viola Menzendorff

During our stay in Los Angeles we got to see some examples of life on the beach. The houses in – and around – Los Angeles show a lot of diversity. We stayed in Santa Monica, in walking distance to the beach. To get there we had to cross the well-known Pacific Coast Highway, which starts at approximately the middle of Santa Monica’s coastline.

When following the little Ocean Front Walk, heading north from Santa Monica Pier, one finds a few small houses. Those only grow bigger further down when the California Incline joins the Highway. This is where the jumble of people – mostly tourists – gets less bundled.

The Highway leaves Santa Monica behind at that point, and the beaches turn narrower, until there are only public beaches, lookouts and cafés or restaurants to be found.

Following the Pacific Coast Highway further, one reaches Malibu. This is where the famous ‘Billionaire’s Beach’, or Carbon Beach is located. House prices there are high and there is a good chance to be living door to door with a celebrity. There, the estates sit directly on the beach, with private exits through the backyards. The beach has only been open to the public for a short period of time.


Malibu Beach, CC by Viola Menzendorff

The individual sites are a lot larger than the slightly packed ones in Santa Monica and the houses are more spacious. Most of the properties seem quite plain when passed by on the highway, where one can only make out closed up façades and front doors. The buildings open up towards the sea though, with huge windows and glass doors, impressive façade designs and backyards.

One of those is the Segel House by the architect John Lautner, which is being discussed in its own blog entries.

John Lautner, Segel House, CC by Viola Menzendorff

If you head the opposite way from Santa Monica Pier, down south, you will find more story buildings, mostly occupied by restaurants and hotels. Adjacent to Santa Monica is Venice. Here, one can visit the well-known Venice Beach, where Muscle Beach is located next to alternative shops, and people sitting on the foot walk vending DIY products and junk goods. Behind all the touristy bustle there is a closely-built row of one family houses. The design and layout of which vary a lot, fitting into the alternative and experimental environment of Venice Beach.

The architect Frank O. Gehry uses this as a site for one of his most salient designs. Oddly, this little Beach House does not even stand out a lot, but rather matches the surroundings.

Frank O. Gehry, Beach House, CC by Viola Menzendorff

[1] Banham, Reyner: Los Angeles. The Architecture of Four Ecologies, University of California Press, Los Angeles, 1971, S.203.


Viola Menzendorff

Frank O. Gehry , Binoculars Building, 2001, 340 Main Street, Venice, Los Angeles

Binoculars Building, photo by the author

On our Frank Gehry day, right after going to the private Gehry Residence, we luckily got to see the iconic Binoculars Building with two adjacent buildings, that are used as office space on each side. The building is located in the Venice neighbourhood of Los Angeles. It is a building that you cannot overlook when you are driving by it. On that day, we were the only tourists to take a closer look at the building while other people casually were walking by. After we had parked on the side of the road across the street we took the chance to observe the exterior of this building to take pictures. From the other side of the street it was a lot easier to take picturesshoot of the whole complex.

Binoculars Building, photo by the author

The centerpiece is the entrance with a pair of matte black binoculars which is symmetrical compared to the other parts of this building since we are not used to see something that we use daily in this size. In my opinion it is not easy to guess that there is a parking lot behind the entrance from afar. It is a creative entrance that looks surreal in person as well as in pictures. The shape and size of this building, makes it an eyecatcher that you can instantly recognize.

Binoculars Building, photo by the author

On the right side of the binoculars is a brown and green building which is asymetrical. It doesn’t have any similarities to the other buildings. To me it looks like something it is randomly built together, which is not really done yet. Most of the beams look disarranged which make these look like branches of a tree but at the same time like antique columns which give support or serve decorative purposes. The building that we are seeing in these pictures, make it seem like it is reddish brown and green. Since the paint of this building looks like it is not evenly distributed, it gives the building something natural. As I got closer to the right part of the building, I noticed that the reason for it is assumedly corten steel or rust, which spread and gave it a green colour.

Binoculars Building, photo by the author

Whereas on the left side I would confirm that the white building does look like a ship or even yacht. It is slightly curved and the first storey only has long cabin like reflecting window panes. The other stories have balconies that are also similar to those of ships and yachts.

Binoculars Building, photo by the author

Behind the binoculars we can see a brick wall which is not as noticeable on the pictures, which I found in the internet before our trip. This is probably an office, music room or lounge. It is possible to look through the windows as you are nearing the gigantic Binoculars. Unfortunately we didn’t get the chance to enter the building.

Binoculars Building, photo by the author

Lien Liane Nguyen

Frank O. Gehry , Binoculars Building, 2001, 340 Main Street, Venice, Los Angeles

Located in the Venice neighboorhood of Los Angeles, is the Binoculars Building which is a commercial office building.

Binoculars Building
By YaGeek (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons
It was designed by Frank O. Gehry a Canadian-born American architect who is residing in Los Angeles, in collaboration with his longtime friends Claes Oldenburg and his wife Coosje van Bruggen. The couple who Gehry collaborated with are famous for their large-scale projects in which they turn everyday objects in huge sculptures. They first made a small model for an academic project in Italy in the form of binoculars but it was built in Gehry’s office instead.

This building was constructed in 1991 until 2001 for the advertising agency Chiat/Day as one of its headquarters and was originally called the Chiat/Day Building.

Materials such as steel, concrete and cement plaster and gypsum plaster in the inside were used for this building.

The black standing pair of binoculars are only one part of a three-part complex of buildings. Gehry designed two different buildings for this project, one is boat-like and the other one is tree-like. We can see that the building on the left side does look like a piece of a white colored yacht with long cabin windows. The building on the right gives the appearance of trees because of the brown color and branches like roof pillars.

Since you can’t gain inside access to the building without having connections, you can still see how this kind of architecture is definitely an eye-catcher. The massive binoculars which are normally considered as an everyday object ties the complex together as a third structure. It turns into an unique and spectacular work space, which functions as pedestrian entrance and car gate as we can already see in videos which are posted online. You can drive through the center of the binoculars in order to get into an underground parking garage.

Today TBWA\Chiat\Day moved out of this building and the public relations group “Ketchum Inc.“ was renting a part of this building. Nowadays this place is more known for its current tenant, as one of many Google buildings.

Lien Liane Nguyen