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On Exhibit: The Other Hollywood

Look at Hollywood real estate from a whole new perspective.


By Randi Schmelzer

Published Jul 1, 2006 12:00 AM

On display at Young Research Library are images of classic Tinseltown, including a 1944 perspective sketch of S. Charles Lee's Bay Theater in Pacific Palisades (above). Copyright © Drawings courtesy of the UCLA Library

Astronomically priced but architecturally challenged properties flood the Southern California market, but a new exhibit at UCLA's Young Research Library offers a peak at some genuinely swoon-worthy real estate.

"The Other Hollywood: Modernist Architecture and the Los Angeles Film Community" is a compilation of photographs and drawings of celebrity-affiliated projects designed by four renowned mid-century architects: Richard Neutra, Lloyd Wright, S. Charles Lee and A. Quincy Jones. On display is a mini-mart built for the exclusive use of a silent-film star; Gary Cooper's crib; and Westwood's famous 1937 venue, the Bruin Theater. *

Organized by UCLA professor emeritus of history and architecture Thomas Hines, the three-month exhibit features rarely viewed images from the YRL's Department of Special Collections, some on display for the first time. And in an effort to counter the concept that modern architecture was "stylistically monolithic," the show covers the genre's style spectrum, from the geometric-inspired designs of Neutra and Jones, to the free-form expressionism favored by Wright and Lee.

Lloyd Wright's circa 1926 drawing of the Louis Samuel-Ramon Navarro House

Highlights include photos of Neutra's 1933 Universal Pictures headquarters, a sleek, salient structure on the corner of Hollywood and Vine. Blocks away stood Wright's Yucca-Vine Drive-in Market, built in 1928 for Raymond Griffith. With its low-hovering roof and zigzag design, the striking structure was a precursor to the neighborhood's innumerable mini-malls. Jones — whose firm designed the Young Research Library itself — is represented via his modernist motif-encompassing Holmby Hills villa, designed in the early 1950s for screen heartthrob Gary Cooper. And Lee's 1937 Bruin Theater in Westwood (named for UCLA, of course) is also a focus of the exhibit; its streamlined, Art Deco design emphasized the architect's personal proverb, "The show starts on the sidewalk."

In displaying mid-century actors' and producers' passion for sophisticated architecture, the exhibit also intends to rebuff the idea that "Hollywood taste" was "shallow" and "frivolous" — at least in terms of aesthetics. And although most of the featured buildings have been demolished, if they stood today, they would likely be the toast of hipsters and honchos alike.

A 1953 preliminary drawing for the living room study in Gary Cooper's Holmby Hills villa.

The Other Hollywood: Modernist Architecture and the Los Angeles Film Community. July 1 - October 15, 2006. Charles E. Young Research Library lobby. Admission is free. Hours vary. Call (310) 825-6925 or log on to their web site.

— Randi Schmelzer