Lonely Planet Writer

Explore the world of mid-century modern architecture around the US West Coast

If you’re touring around the West Coast and love design, a new book will lead travellers to “one of the most fertile regions for the development of Mid-Century Modern architecture”.

LAX Theme Building, Pereira and Luckman, 1961. mid-century modern
LAX Theme Building, Pereira and Luckman, 1961. Image by Darren Bradley (page 231)

Mid-Century Modern Architecture Travel Guide: West Coast USA explores the architecture of that era from Seattle to San Diego, all along the West Coast of the USA.

mid-century modern
Rainier Tower, Minoru Yamasaki, 1977. Image by Darren Bradley (page 35)

The book rounds up works from America’s most important architectural movement, featuring more than 250 places. The design concept, which focuses on simple, modern and often organic forms, includes Palm Springs desert structures, space age ‘Googie’ diners, motels and drive-thru’s.

Union 76 Gas Station, William Pereira & Associates, 1965.
Union 76 Gas Station, William Pereira & Associates, 1965. Image by Darren Bradley (page 164)

The book also contains many icons of twentieth century architecture such as the Eames House, Los Angeles Airport Theme Building and Palm Springs City Hall.

Anaheim Convention Center & Arena, Adrian Wilson & Associates, 1967.
Anaheim Convention Center & Arena, Adrian Wilson & Associates, 1967. Image by Darren Bradley (page 254)

Examples of such architecture can be found from Washington and Oregon in the north, south to California with San Francisco, Los Angeles, Palm Springs, and San Diego. Included are iconic buildings by Frank Lloyd Wright, Charles and Ray Eames, Richard Neutra, and John Lautner as well as edifices by lesser known architects and hidden gems.

Mid-Century Modern Architecture
Mid-Century Modern Architecture Image by Phaidon