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Category: architects

One year ago: architect Raimund Abraham

Raimund One year ago, Austrian architect Raimund Abraham was killed in a car accident in downtown Los Angeles, only hours after delivering a lecture at the Southern California Institute of Architecture. He was 76.

Abraham was best known for designing the Austrian Cultural Forum building in New York City that opened in 2002.

In the wake of the architect's death, Times architecture critic Christopher Hawthorne, who wrote the obituary, went on to consider Abraham's monumental knife-thin building in Manhattan in the context of plans for a new American embassy in London:

How should an architect approach the task of designing a building to represent his home country abroad? What happens if the result -- implicitly or explicitly -- is critical of that country's past, politics or most cherished values?

Click here to read more about the issue in Hawthorne's column a few weeks after Abraham's death.


Obituary: Raimund Abraham dies at 76; Austrian-born architect, theorist and teacher

-- Claire Noland

Photo: Facade of Austrian Cultural Forum building. Credit: Matt Campbell / Agence France-Presse / Getty Images

Edgar Tafel, architect who trained at Taliesin with Frank Lloyd Wright, dies at 98 [Updated]

New York City architect Edgar Tafel, an original Taliesin fellow credited with saving some of Frank Lloyd Wright's most important works, has died. He was 98.

Tafel, who was instrumental in helping save two historic interiors from a house designed by his celebrated mentor in Minnesota, died Jan. 18 at his home in lower Manhattan, said Robert Silman, a longtime friend and New York structural engineer.

He was the last surviving member of the original Taliesin fellows, a community of young apprentice architects established in 1932 at Wright's home and school in Spring Green, Wis., Silman said.

He had a hand in two of Wright's most enduring structures: Fallingwater on Bear Run creek in southwest Pennsylvania and the Johnson Wax Building in Racine, Wis.

In his own practice, which Tafel opened in New York after World War II, he was perhaps best known for designing the Church House for the First Presbyterian Church, a 19th century landmark in Greenwich Village.

Decades later, Tafel was instrumental in helping save two Prairie-style interiors from Wright's Francis W. Little House in Wayzata, Minn., before it was demolished in 1971. The living room is installed at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and the library is in the Allentown Art Museum in Pennsylvania.

His other projects included three college campuses, 35 religious buildings, six townhouses and 80 homes.

Tafel, born in New York City, is the author of "Years With Frank Lloyd Wright" and "About Wright."

-- Associated Press

Photo: Edgar Tafel, standing second from right, and other Taliesin apprentices surround their mentor Frank Lloyd Wright at the architect's studio in Spring Green, Wis., in 1938. Credit: Associated Press

[For the record, Jan. 27, 2:20 p.m.: An earlier version of the photo caption gave an incorrect position for Edgar Tafel as second from left.]

One year ago: Pierre Cabrol

Pierre-cabrol Pierre Cabrol was a French-born architect with Welton Becket & Associates who was the lead designer for the Cinerama Dome, the landmark theater now operated by ArcLight.

The Sunset Boulevard theater, completed in 1963, was based on the geodesic dome concept conceived by architect R. Buckminster Fuller. But instead of using the typical aluminum or glass, the Cinerama Dome is the only one made of concrete.

The theater has 316 interlocking hexagons that form its dome shell and can accomodate more than 800 guests who view an 86-by-32-foot curved screen.

Cabrol also was the lead designer on other significant projects by Welton Becket, including the Jules Stein Eye Institute at UCLA, the General Electric Pavilion at the 1964 New York World's Fair and the Grand Ole Opry House in Nashville.

After 30 years with the firm, Cabrol retired from Welton Brecket and worked independently as an architect and landscape architect from 1988 to 1995.

For more, read Pierre Cabrol's obituary by The Times, and see a 1963 photo of the Cinerama dome being constructed.

--Michael Farr

Photo: Pierre Cabrol. Credit: Family photo

One year ago: Julius Shulman


One can hardly talk about mid-20th century Modernist architecture without mentioning Julius Shulman, a photographer whose work was found in just about every book published on Modernist architects. He died one year ago.

Beyond just making good pictures, Shulman had an overarching vision for his work: build the reputation of the architects who were bringing innovative design to the West.

Shulman's roster of clients contained many of the big names pioneering contemporary architecture, including Frank Lloyd Wright and Rudolf M. Schindler. After the Depression, Shulman's studio was one of three in the United States to which Arts & Architecture, Architectural Forum and other magazines turned to document the exciting new work being done in architecture.

It was a photo taken at sunset May 9, 1960, of the famous Case Study House No. 22 in the Hollywood Hills that earned him the most fame. The black-and-white photograph is taken from outside the cantilevered house, shooting through glass walls to the grid of sparkling city lights below. Largely due to Shulman's photo, the house is now one of the most photographed in the world.

"He has a sense of visual bravura of composition," wrote the late Robert Sobieszek, photography curator at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, "so that he can take a rather mundane house and make it look exciting, and take a spectacular house and make it look triply spectacular."

For more on the famous photographer of architecture who worked well into his 90s, read Julius Shulman's obituary by The Times.

--Michael Farr

Photo: Julius Shulman. Credit: Los Angeles Times

One year ago: Ray Watt

WattLos Angeles might look a lot different today had it not been for the work of Ray Watt, pioneer and innovator in the development industry who did much to define the look of modern L.A. He died one year ago.

During his six decade career, Watt built more than 100,000 single-family homes, mostly in the San Fernando Valley, the South Bay and the Westside. He also developed other types of property, including industrial centers.

Among his best-known projects were Watt Plaza, a two-tower office complex in Century City, and Fairbanks Ranch, a luxury housing development in Rancho Santa Fe.

Watt was named Builder of the Year from the Building Industry Assn. of California in 1968. He also became a trustee of USC in 1967 and contributed to the school for years. Watt Hall of Architecture and Fine Arts is named after him.

Watt began his career by taking advantage of the housing shortage after World War II as GIs were coming home. Along with his brother, Don, he built a mobile home park in 1946, working with a small crew and a battered pickup truck.

He continued his work into the 1990s, though he took time out during President Nixon's first term to serve as assistant secretary of Housing and Urban Development.

For more, read Ray Watt's obituary by The Times.

--Michael Farr

Photo: Ray Watt

Credit: Los Angeles Times

Stephen Kanner, Los Angeles Modernist architect and co-founder of A+D Museum, dies at 54

KannerStephen Kanner, a third-generation Los Angeles architect known for his playful modern designs, died Friday of cancer.  He was 54.

In 2001, Kanner  co-founded the A+D Museum  -- read  “architecture plus design” – that recently opened in a permanent location across from the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

One Kanner design that earned popular acclaim was the In-N-Out Burger on Gayley Avenue in Westwood  that took its shape from the company’s logo, according to Frances Anderton, Los Angeles editor for Dwell magazine.

Other notable recent Kanner designs include a Space Age-gas station with a freeway-inspired roof, at Slauson and La Brea avenues; and the conversion of a defunct commercial tower into Sunset Vine Tower, a luxury apartment building in Hollywood.

He followed his grandfather, I. Herman Kanner, and father, Charles Kanner, in running the family firm founded in Los Angeles in 1946. Kanner Architects has completed more than 150 projects citywide, according to its website.

Architecture magazine once complimented Kanner projects for combining “solidly functional design with visual wit.”

A complete obituary will follow at

-- Valerie J. Nelson

Photo: Stephen Kanner, shown in 2005, in the corner of a backyard office he built for a Westside psychologist. The structure was inspired by a nearby tree house. Credit: Dominique Vorillon


John Warnecke, architect who designed JFK grave site, dies at 91


John Carl Warnecke, an architect who designed President John F. Kennedy's grave site at Arlington National Cemetery, has died. He was 91.

Warnecke Known as Jack, Warnecke died April 17 from pancreatic cancer at his Sonoma County ranch near Healdsburg, along the Russian River.

Warnecke met Kennedy in the early 1960s and developed a close friendship with the first couple. The president tapped him to restore Lafayette Square across from the White House in 1962. He was later appointed to the federal fine arts commission.

Warnecke was a proponent of contextual architecture, known for bringing a sensitivity to environment and history to his designs. His many projects included the Hart Senate Office Building and Kennedy's grave site with its eternal flame.

A full obituary will follow at

-- Associated Press

Photos: Above, members of the Kennedy family make a 1995 visit the grave site designed by architect John Warnecke at Arlington National Cemetery. They are, from left, Ethel Kennedy, wife of the late Robert Kennedy; Rep. Patrick Kennedy, D-R.I.; Victoria Reggie, wife of Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass.; Edward  Kennedy, who died in 2009; and Eunice Shriver, sister of President Kennedy, who also died in 2009.

Below, Warnecke shows JFK plans in May 1963 for a possible site for a library to house the president's public papers near Harvard University in Cambridge, Mass.

Credits: Associated Press

Experimental architect Raimund Abraham, 76, dies in car accident


Raimund Abraham, an iconoclastic architect from Austria who had been teaching at the Southern California Institute of Architecture since 2003, died early Thursday in a car accident in downtown Los Angeles, the school said. He was 76.

Abraham died only hours after giving a lecture at SCI-Arc.

Christopher Hawthorne, The Times' architecture critic, has more here. And a full obituary will follow at

-- Claire Noland

Photo: Architect Raimund Abraham, with one of his installations at SCI-Arc in 2003. Credit: Lawrence K. Ho / Los Angeles Times

Memorial for Lawrence Halprin

A memorial service for Lawrence Halprin, a celebrated modernist landscape architect whose designs include the FDR memorial in Washington and Ghirardelli Square in San Francisco, will be held Dec. 20 at Temple Emanu-El in San Francisco.

Halprin died Oct. 25 at age 93.

His best-known work in Los Angeles may be the Bunker Hill steps, a sweeping staircase that is divided by a raised water channel.

-- Keith Thursby

Photo: Lawrence Halprin speaks at the 1990 opening of Bunker Hill steps. Credit: Los Angeles Times



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