A Tour of LA's Inspiring Architectural Landmarks

Walt Disney Concert Hall, designed by Frank Gehry
Walt Disney Concert Hall, designed by Frank Gehry | © Heather Harvey / Flickr
Katie Watkins

What Los Angeles lacks in skyscrapers, it makes up for with unique and innovative architectural designs, from the recent Broad Museum by Diller Scofidio + Renfro to classic houses by Frank Lloyd Wright. Here are six of the city’s most iconic architectural landmarks to get you started.

1. Walt Disney Concert Hall, Los Angeles

Building, Concert Hall, Museum

walt disney concert hall
© Fabio Achilli / Flickr
With its curvy stainless steel exterior, the Walt Disney Concert Hall is a cultural landmark of LA’s downtown area. Designed by Frank Gehry, the building’s iconic wavy shapes were inspired by the architect’s love of sailing. Inside, however, the concert hall is a basic box shape with a warm, wooden interior. The project was commissioned in 1988, but due to budgetary issues it didn’t open until 2003. Home to the LA Philharmonic, the hall boasts some of the best acoustics in the world.

2. The Broad Museum

Museum, Building

The Broad in Los Angeles, designed by Diller Scofidio + Renfro.
© Sinchen.Lin / Flickr
Opened in 2015, The Broad is one of the city’s newest architectural icons, and sits across the street from the Walt Disney Concert Hall. Designed by Diller Scofidio + Renfro, the contemporary art museum houses more than 2,000 works of art, yet many come just to admire the unique architecture. The architects designed The Broad to act as a contrast to the neighboring concert hall. “Compared to Disney Hall’s smooth and shiny exterior, which reflects light, The Broad is porous and absorptive, channeling light into the public spaces and galleries,” architect Elizabeth Diller said in an interview with Dezeen.

3. Hollyhock House


Hollyhock House in Los Angeles, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright.
© magicredshoes / Flickr

Completed in 1921, the Hollyhock House was Frank Lloyd Wright’s first project in Los Angeles. It was also the first time he started developing an architectural style unique to the Southern California landscape, which would later morph into California Modernism. Built for oil heiress Aline Barnsdall, it is named after her favorite flower. The design is inspired by 7th century Mayan temples, and contains 17 rooms and seven bathrooms. “There is no other architect that has ever done anything like Hollyhock House,” Jeffrey Herr, the curator of the house, told Business Insider. “There isn’t any other structure like it either in his oeuvre or in anybody else’s.” Restored in 2015, the house is open to the public for tours.

5. The Bradbury Building


The Bradbury Building in Los Angeles.
© Michael Beiriger / Alamy Stock Photo
Opened in 1893, the Bradbury is the oldest commercial building in LA’s downtown area. From the outside, it looks like a standard office building, but inside the building’s Romanesque beauty shines through. Its large court fills with sunlight and abounds with open cage elevators, iron railings and marble stairs. The building has starred in several movies, including Blade Runner, 500 Days of Summer, and Marlowe. It was designed by Sumner Hunt, but completed by George H. Wyman who oversaw the construction.

6. The Getty Center

Building, Museum

The Getty in Los Angeles is designed by Richard Meier.
© Tom Mascardo / Flickr
Situated on a hilltop in the Santa Monica mountains, The Getty Center and its gardens highlight their natural surroundings, offering views of both the Pacific Ocean and the San Gabriel mountains. Designed by architect Richard Meier, over 16,000 tons of white travertine—shipped in from Rome—was used in the modernist project. Artist Robert Irwin designed the central garden, and while the center displays the vast art collection of J. Paul Getty, many go for the gardens and facilities. “Everybody has their favorite spot at the Getty,” Meiers said in an interview with the Los Angeles Times. “I can’t tell you over the years the numbers of people I’ve met who said, ‘Oh, I went to the Getty and spent the whole day, and it was a wonderful experience, but I never went into the museum.’’
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