from original brochure, 1951
The Californai Register of Historical Resources
Hearing: Aug 5, 2005 in Sacramento
and recommended eligible for listing on The National Register of
Historic Places 2003 by the
STATEMENT OF SIGNIFICANCE
Lincoln Place also qualifies for listing on the California Register at the local level of significance under Criterion Three, as a good example of the large multi-family garden apartment property type in Los Angeles based on the planning and design principles of the Garden City and Modern Movements. These two significant styles of architecture and planning would shape both housing design and community site planning in the 20th Century.
Social History - Critical Housing Shortage
Outside a Los Angeles veteranís housing office, a woman and two little girls slept in a dilapidated car. Inside, a gaunt young veteran, his suit rumpled and his eyes red-rimmed from lack of rest, blew up: "Iíve been living like this with my wife and two kids for six months and Iíve damn well had enough of it. There are thousands of others like meÖ." He was only one of an estimated 40,000 veterans with families in Los Angeles who needed a home, only one of several million in the nation in the same plight. Patience had long since proved expendable.
Federal Government Response - Section 608 and FHA Guidelines for Rental Housing
While one other Federal Housing Authority ("FHA") financing program, Section 207 also was designed to finance low to moderate income rental privately owned housing, language in the postwar amendments to Section 608 made it the leading stimulus in motivating developers to build low to moderate income rental housing in the United States at the time. Indeed, between 1946 and 1952, 80% of FHA sponsored developments comprised of five or more rental housing units were insured under Section 608. In the post war amendments to Section 608, amortization of Section 608 mortgages was reduced so as to lengthen the maturity by five years or longer. Working capital requirements were reduced. A high loan to value ratio, a liberal valuation of the land and a high estimate of development costs translated into profits for developers. Forms were simplified and procedures were streamlined to facilitate quick action on applications. For example, the amendments to Section 608 made it possible for developers to "estimate" their costs with no verification at a later point in the project. There were resulting windfalls, intentional for some developers, but accidental for others as postwar materials prices dropped. In any event, the result was the possibility of developing a large development with very little capital and, in America, it represented an unprecedented governmental sponsored boost in promoting private development of affordable housing.
As was stated in Where We Live: A Social History of American Housing by Irving Welfeld, "The program succeeded beyond all expectations. Four hundred sixty thousand units were built (half in four metropolitan areas: New York City, Chicago, Washington, and Los Angeles). Of these approximately 400,000 were built by the end of 1951. More units were built under the ë608í program in 1950 and 1951 than had been built by all the life insurance companies, limited dividend corporations, semiphilanthropic organizations, and consumer cooperatives." Robert Schafer, in his The Suburbanization of Multifamily Housing, goes further. He points out that the rise in multifamily housing starts in 1948-50 was entirely the result of federal financial assistance under Section 608. Lincoln Place was the largest development financed under this federally backed mortgage insurance program in Los Angeles and in the State of California.
From 1942-1946, Section 608 mortgage commitments totaled approximately $175 million in multi-family housing. In 1947, alone mortgage commitments totaled $360 million. It was the largest amount the agency had ever spent in its history since being formed in 1934 as the agency to administer the federal mortgage insurance program and the largest amount sponsored by the government since the 1930ís when the Federal Government first took an active part in promoting housing and first recognized the importance of housing to the general welfare. Lincoln Place is a marker in that history.
The design and location requirements adopted by the FHA were influenced by intellectual and design movements in Europe, where the forces of urbanization and industrialization led architects and designers to think about designs that emphasized community. The need to rebuild Europe after World War I gave rise to massive debates and discussions regarding housing policy and resulted in new trends in multi-family housing. These debates and trends influenced policy makers in the United States, where during the depression and during and after World War II there was a similar need for massive housing development, and their location in relation to city centers and work places became part of the ongoing debate. The two principal architectural movements that developed in Europe in response to this need for massive housing and to the forces of urbanization and industrialization were the English Garden City Movement and the Modern Movement. Although a discussion of the Garden City and Modern Movements is relevant in this Statement of Significance when discussing the reasons Lincoln Place is eligible for the California Register under Criterion Three, they are reviewed briefly here due to the influence of these Movements in forming FHA policy and are relevant to this discussion insofar as they relate to governmental involvement in the planning of communities and the FHAís active promotion of the new garden apartment property type.
Garden City Influence
These site planning ideas spread to the United States in the 1920s. Garden City principles were promoted as a basis for metropolitan expansion in the United States by among others, the Regional Planning Association of America (RPAA), a group formed in 1923 for this purpose. It consisted of architects, engineers, economists and sociologists and would be responsible for the design of many of the early American garden suburbs. Key features of the Garden City Movement that found their way in FHA guidelines included the idea of superblocks consisting of large common green spaces, separation of pedestrian and automobile traffic, and access to community facilities.
Modern Movement Influence
The ideas of the Modern Movement originating in Europe and thereafter widely discussed in the United States were that modern technology could be used to mass produce housing and would allow for less household work, for example. Further, the modernist approach was to use direct solutions and scientific knowledge to create housing. So, form would follow function. With modern construction it was cheaper and more efficient to build apartments as opposed to individual houses. Rooms should be easy to care for. Rooms should have varied uses. New materials, often scientifically developed, would be used to make buildings stronger and cheaper and would allow for new spaciousness. Although FHA guidelines did not set up standards of architectural styles, many of these modern concepts were also reflected in FHA publications on housing developments. Certainly, there seemed to be, one, an appreciation of the modernists ideas captured by Bauer and two, a recognition that the new Modernist style in many ways more readily conformed to the standards of the FHA than dwellings in other styles.
Lincoln Place - Textbook Application
of FHA Guidelines
Away from the salt-air atmosphere characteristic of beach locations, Lincoln Place ideally situated in a new section of the healthful, smog-free Westside area, easily accessible from all locations. Public transportation, shopping centers, churches,
The units were set back from the street and the design emphasized courtyards, just as favored by the FHA. The curved pedestrian paths followed the FHA prescription for "curved walks." The garages and parking areas of Lincoln Place were placed behind the buildings and along alleys, as suggested by the FHA. FHA guidelines advised that each building be arranged in such a manner that the service elements were adjacent to those of its neighbors, and the living space face the living space of the neighbor, thereby eliminating nuisances. Again, the design of Lincoln Place met the standards of the FHA. All the service functions are contemplated from the back door in the kitchen, and each kitchen faces an outer courtyard and is directly across the hallway from the kitchen of the neighboring unit.
In addition to meeting the FHAís design requirements, the distinctive touches gave each building its own character. Yet, the design had "architectural unity," which was preferred by the FHA. The uniquely staggered building blocks create visual variation. The individual apartment buildings comprising a building block are staggered and combined to form a "U," "L," "C," "Z," or linear plan to avoid monotony. The one story bungalows at the end of most of the "U" and linear shaped configurations, and the one story laundry buildings, provide height variation and bring air space into play. The openings to the balconies include rectangular and square shapes placed asymmetrically on the building wall, adding to the visual variation of the units. The wood and/or stucco treatments framing building entrances are varied. In addition, some of the entrance treatments are recessed, while others are flush with the building, and some form a relief. The treatments for windows above each entrance vary, with a number of possible design configurations. By mixing the varied window treatments above each entrance with the various entrances, the design teams were able to achieve innumerable building designs. The multi-planed façades add to the visual distinctiveness of the individual apartment buildings comprising Lincoln Place.
The FHA regulations for Planning Rental Housing Projects called for simple, direct designs which relied upon "mass, scale and proportion" for their effect and avoided "over ornamentation" or a "startling use of materials." The FHA recommended that open space be concentrated into large areas so that light, air and an "agreeable outlook" could be provided for most rooms. The buildings comprising Lincoln Place were a combination of rectangular and vertically-shaped simple buildings that created interest and variety by judicious arrangement of the building masses, finding strong design elements in the shape of the buildings. The concentrated open spaces of Lincoln Place let in light and allowed air to circulate within the area and the individual units. The staggered buildings allowed for windows to be placed where there might have otherwise been shared wall space, thereby further increasing the amount of light that entered the units and the ventilation. Further, most living rooms were planned to face grassy and landscaped courtyards.
The FHA recommended "simple plans" using rooms of "desirable proportions" and "convenient" and "logical" arrangements. The design for Lincoln Place does just that. The living room and kitchen were grouped together near the entrance and the bedrooms and bath area were grouped together in a more remote location. The living rooms were relatively large, with large windows, which allowed for a comfortable and aesthetically pleasing room that could combine several of the functions of living. With comfortable and well-proportioned one and two bedrooms, the architects of Lincoln Place successfully interpreted federal design guidelines for multi-family housing. FHA guidelines suggested good ventilation and natural lighting were important for the kitchen, as the kitchen would be used during a great part of each day. The kitchens in Lincoln Place have two large windows, which allow for natural lighting and good ventilation.
One of the original developers, as well as a draftsman on the project recall the FHA sent developers of other projects to see Lincoln Place to see the quality that could be achieved in housing developments of this nature. The architects who designed Lincoln Place were leading architects for FHA projects, designing over 2,000 units throughout the Southern California from 1947-1951.
Community Planning and Development
- The Los Angeles Story
When the construction permit for Lincoln Place was issued in 1949, local press heralded the development as an extraordinarily large project that would make a significant difference for many new families in need of housing. Several newspapers during this period ran articles following the development of the project and announcing its opening, indicating the size, scale and quality were important events of the time. An adjacent 24-acre recreation and 7-acre shopping area was planned contemporaneously with the development of Lincoln Place. The recreation center and shopping center were oriented to Lincoln Place units, so that, in the words of one newspaper article, " all residents Ö[would] enjoy easy access to stores and playgrounds." A movie theatre followed just north of the shopping center on Lincoln Boulevard. For several weeks after Lincoln Placeís grand opening, both local and city-wide newspapers ran articles detailing the "luxury" design and popularity of Lincoln Place. According to an article in the Los Angeles Examiner, "A feature proving especially attractive to families with children, builders say, is the ëindoor-outdoorí design of all apartments which integrates spacious lawns and play areas with the apartments and outdoor porches. The arrangement gives children plenty of outdoor freedom with easy access to and from living areas." Lincoln Place was credited with spawning many retail developments in the area, making Lincoln Boulevard the retail center of the community. To this day, this area is one of the busiest commercial corridors in the Santa Monica Bay area.
The history of Lincoln Place is the history of housing policy and planning in the United States in response to the shortage of housing after World War II and to the challenges wrought by urbanization and industrialization of our country in the first half of that century. It was the biggest housing project in California built under the historic FHA housing program. Its scale was important in the development of the community in Los Angeles immediately after World War II. It remains a text book application of Federal guidelines for building residential rental units for low to moderate income tenants and is one of the few remaining in tact large multi-family rental units of its kind on the Westside of Los Angeles. Today, it continues to fulfill its original purpose, to provide community for the modern family working in varied industries along the Santa Monica Bay communities in a time and in a location where affordable rental housing is in critical demand.
Architectural and Site Planning Significance
The Architects and Relevant
Experience Leading to Lincoln Place
At the time, Vaughn did not have his architectsí license and when he was asked by a contractor to design Lincoln Place, an FHA insured project, he teamed up with Wharton to form Wharton & Vaughn Associates. Allen Mock, a draftsman who worked in the office at the time and who is now a practicing architect, says that Vaughn was primarily responsible for the planning and the design of all of the projects in the office and Wharton served primarily as the project manager.
Vaughn had worked with Wharton as a set designer at MGM during the War. Wharton was known for his liberal political views and he welcomed the opportunity to partner with a black designer. In addition, their design approaches were complementary. As a licensed architect, he designed homes for many prominent clients, including a house in Malibu for screenwriters Sonya Levien and Carl Hovey. This home was on the Standard Oil Postcard for many years. He also designed homes for members of the Uplifters Club in Santa Monica. In 1949, he completed a fashion atelier and apartment for the noted Hollywood costume designer Adrian Adolph Greenberg and his wife, actress Janet Gaynor. He participated in at least two residential competitions, receiving an award in one and an honorable mention in another. His work appeared in several architectural publications, including Pacific Coast Architect, Southwest Building and Contractor, California Arts & Architecture, and The Architect and Engineer. In 1927, he designed Glendon Manor in Westwood Village, which is listed on the California Register of Historical Resources. He attended Harvard University School of Architecture from 1915-1917 as a special student, indicating he was already an experienced practitioner in the field. From 1913-1915, Wharton worked in the office of Myron Hunt, one of the most prominent architects in Southern California during this time.
Vaughn was well-versed in Modernist architecture and housing policy. He was a committed member of the group of architects who believed architecture could solve social problems by providing livable space that gave residents a sense of belonging. He was mentored by a key pioneer in public housing and adherent to Bauhaus design and the Garden City Movement. Vaughn was also an artist who saw architecture as a creative endeavor. All these experiences informed the design of Lincoln Place, which is apart of a sophisticated evolution of the Garden City Movement with direct lineage to the work of Clarence Stein, the major proponent of this movement in the United States.
Vaughnís father, Roscoe Vaughn was an architect and one of the early black Washingtonians in the field. In 1924, Roscoe Vaughn set up an architectural firm in Washington, D.C. with George A. Ferguson, the first native black Washingtonian to receive an architectural degree in an accredited program. Both also taught at Armstrong Manual Training School and developed a course of study that helped the Armstrong program gain a reputation as a "feeder" for Howard Universityís architectural program in the 1920ís and 1930ís.
Ralph Vaughn, the designer of Lincoln Place and the son of Roscoe Vaughn, graduated from the University of Illinois in 1932, earning a Bachelor of Science in architecture. While at the University of Illinois, he worked on several student projects with famed modernists William Pereira and Charles Luckman, who were Vaughnís contemporaries at the school and would go on to form a successful partnership from 1950 to 1958, designing many buildings defining the Southern California landscape.
After graduating from the University of Illinois in 1932, Vaughn was an instructor of architecture at Howard University in Washington, D.C., at which time he worked with and was mentored by two professors who were key figures in the emerging garden apartment movement, Albert I. Cassell and Hilyard Robinson. Cassell is known for his design of the award-winning Mayfair Mansions garden apartments in northeast Washington D.C., which is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. While in Cassellís office, Vaughn contributed to the design of a science laboratory at Howard University and also the Universityís Founders Library.
Hilyard Robinson was especially important in Vaughnís development as a designer of garden apartments. While pursuing a Masters in architecture from Columbia University in 1931, Robinsonís interest in housing was bolstered by the work of Henry Wright and Clarence S. Stein, who in 1923 founded with several others, the RPAA to promote Garden City principles as a basis for metropolitan expansion in the United States. Robinson was especially intrigued by their development at Radburn, the seminal project derived from the Garden City principles, which was started in 1928 in Fair Lawn, New Jersey. Radburn included single family houses, two family homes, townhomes, semi-attached houses and a 93 unit apartment building. Robinson said of Radburn, that this "pleasant, relaxing, and children-oriented" community stimulated him to translate the concepts of a planned community of comfortable housing to crowded, lower-income areas.
In the summer of 1925, Robinson had visited the housing exhibition at Frankfurt, which included the work of Walter Gropius, Mies van de Rohe and Marcel Breur, leading Bauhaus architects who were instrumental in defining the International style. In 1931 through 1932 Robinson studied in Berlin with Gropius and Breuer. During this period, he also traveled to the birthplace of public housing, Amsterdam and Rotterdam where he observed first hand what he called the "inexhaustible archives of the engineering, economics and politics of housing."
Well-versed in public housing concepts in 1932 he returned to the United States, and in 1934 was invited to become a senior consultant to the U.S. Resettlement Administration ("RA"), part of President Franklin D. Rooseveltís New Deal. Robinson went on to design eight major housing projects in various cities, at least two of which are on the National Register. The first of these housing developments was the Langston Terrace Housing, the first federally funded low-cost housing project in the District of Columbia, which today is on the National Register of Historic Places.
On the 40th Anniversary of Langston Terrace, Robinson recalled to a group of residents the Queen of Holland had visited Langston Terrace and paid it the highest compliments, saying in substance he recalled, "Your Langston Terrace project pays high compliment to my country. It is a most orderly, practical and beautiful project in every respect. I must say it reminds me of some of our very best community housing in Holland. Let me thank and congratulate you."
Ralph Vaughn, the designer of Lincoln Place and at the time of Langston Terrace, a recent architecture school graduate, worked together with Robinson on the Langston Terrace project serving as the chief draftsman. A model of the development was exhibited at New Yorkís Museum of Modern Art. Louis Mumford, another founding member of the RPAA, writing in The New Yorker magazine in 1938 wrote that Langston Terrace set a high standard of design. It was described in a tribute to Robinson published in the Washington Post after Robinson died in 1986 as "elegant architecture and landscape, state of-the-art amenities, meticulous upkeep, lively architecture and warm, community living."
During the time that Vaughn worked for the RA with Robinson, the RA provided funding for the world-renowned Greenbelt Project in Maryland, a cooperative residential development designed by Clarence Stein and his RPAA colleagues. Today, Greenbelt is in the National Register of Historic Places and is designated as a National Historic Landmark.
From Stein to Hilyard Robinson to Ralph Vaughn and others, we see the evolution of Garden City planning principles. In his influential book, Toward New Towns for America, Stein emphasized that the Garden City principles would evolve over time to respond to new conditions. Stein was the consulting architect on the leading garden apartments in Los Angeles, the Baldwin Hills Village, now known as Village Green, today a National Historic Landmark. In Los Angeles, Stein noted the principles would be adapted to respond to the dominance of the automobile. He also noted that given the past control of housing by speculative subdividers and speculative builders throughout Los Angeles, it was not always possible to avoid the more gridiron pattern of streets favored by city officials in spite of dangers to pedestrians. He also noted that the sunny temperate climate of Los Angeles invited outdoor living, which would dictate closer contact between the inside and outside of the house and a freer and more informal lifestyle. Village Green built in 1942 is a marker in that history.
Allen Mock, tells how Vaughn took the design team working on Lincoln Place over to Village Green on a number of occasions so that they could have "a sense of the type of design that we were aiming for. He felt it was the best-designed and ?conceived garden community project in Los Angeles and he wanted us to try to duplicate the feeling and atmosphere and even better it. He wanted to capture the same space, air and light." And so went the further reflection of the guiding principals of the Garden City Movement as filtered through years of evolution.
In addition to the influences of Clarence Stein and Hilyard Robinson reflected in the design and site planning of Lincoln Place, we see Vaughnís "Hollywood styling" sensibility at work in the design of Lincoln Place. In 1937,Vaughn had moved to California to work with Paul Williams, who was known as Hollywoodís A-list architect. During this time, Vaughn was a designer for a number of important Williams projects, including the MCA Building, a Saks Fifth Avenue store addition in Beverly Hills, and residences for many Hollywood celebrities, including Charles Correll (Amos on the radio show Amos ën Andy), Bert Lahr (the cowardly lion in the Wizard of Oz), comedian Grace Moore, actor Tyrone Power, and tap dancer Bill "Bojangles" Robinson. A house Vaughn designed appeared in the September, 1941 edition of California Arts and Architecture with pictures depicting the house taken by famed Modernist photographer, Julius Shulman. This design put Vaughn into the mainstream of the progressive architectural community in southern California during the time.
During the War years, Vaughn became a senior set designer at MGM Studios, among the first African Americans in this field. Vaughn worked for the multi-Academy Award winning set designer, Cedric Gibbons. In addition to war movies, Vaughn also worked on The Last Time I Saw Paris, Thirty Seconds over Tokyo, A Guy Named Joe, and Kismet. In the book, African American Architects: A Biographical Dictionary 1865-1945, Dr. Wesley Howard Henderson writes that Vaughn had told him that the movie industry was a strong influence on his work, as well as on the work of other architects in Los Angeles. This influence is seen in the richness of the façades of Lincoln Place. Just as we see with the set designs in Hollywood films from the period, the façades of Lincoln Place include plane upon plane of textured surfaces.
During his collaboration with Wharton, Vaughn worked on North Hollywood Manor, Chase Knolls apartments, and Lincoln Place, among other projects. He went on to design several restaurants and bars, hotels and residences in Arizona, Arkansas, California and Oregon. He also designed several congregations, including Congregation Beth Am Synagogue and an addition to the Mogen David Synagogue, both in Los Angeles. He received architectural awards for his work on Beth Am Synagogue and for the design of his own residence in the West Adams District of Los Angeles. Before he received his architectural license in 1963, he was the designated "designer" or "stylist" for projects. After receiving his license, he received credit as the architect on the projects he designed.
Design Philosophy of Lincoln
Vaughn looked to the Garden City Movement for ideas on creating a community feeling in an urban setting. Although, in the late 1940ís there would be additional challenges in implementing Garden City planning principles. Lincoln Place provides an important example of how the English Garden City principles evolved over time to meet these new conditions. Actually it represents the peak of the evolution in several respects. In one, it was more economical with space that was increasingly spare, yet it maintained the attributes of Garden City principles. In another way, it represents the peak of the evolution of the large garden apartment property type in the way, for example, that it individualized every building entrance, in that way improving on many of the projects that preceded it that were uniform. It also adopted the design language of the Modern style, creating greater interest in the individual buildings comprising the site plan, which were often up to that time in the Colonial Revival style or in the Minimal Traditional style, or in another style. The Minimal Traditional Style emerged in the 1930s but was most prevalent following World War II from 1946 to 1951, and many of the apartment buildings built during this period reflected this style.
Architect Allen Mock, who as stated earlier worked in the offices of Wharton & Vaughn as a draftsman at the time, says that the design team studied Village Green and was instructed by Vaughn to create the same space, air and light and to make Lincoln Placeís 24 units, per acre feel like Village Greenís eight units, per acre. Through these efforts, the principles of the Garden City Movement are applied to Lincoln Place, although the increased density requirements of the later construction period of Lincoln Place are met.
Rather than subdividing the large site into a traditional neighborhood form using a grid-pattern system of streets and blocks, Lincoln Place retains the Garden City planning principle of the "superblock," divided into park space, a series of service drives and cul-de-sacs, and larger, curving streets, with separate circulation systems for pedestrians and automobiles. Mock explains that although the starting point for the site plan was the street layout proposed by the developer and accepted by the city, Vaughn was successful in getting the city to move the already curving streets even more in order to better realize the flow of air space he was designing and the building configuration he desired.
Most of the building blocks turn away from the street to face gardens and open green space. Those that face the street have very deep setbacks. The green open spaces are accented with the sub-tropical themed landscaping that thrives in southern California and provides a drought resistant interpretation of the green trees that shape the park-like setting advanced by the Garden City Movement. Multi-family interaction is encouraged by the provision of common courtyards, collective parking areas and the 48 communal laundry buildings scattered throughout the property. It maintains the low scale characteristics of the garden apartment type, the highest building only two stories. Further, it is centrally located, near schools, parks, stores, churches, also an important tenant of Garden City principles.
As a devoted Modernist, Vaughn designed these multi-family dwellings with clear admiration for the beauty of structural and abstract forms and appreciation for the maxim of Modern architecture that structural forms themselves can be ornamental or have beauty. The buildings comprising Lincoln Place are modern in style with use of rectangular volumes and standardized elements. Like Langston Terrace, it is a warm Modern, Langston Terrace with its use of brick and Lincoln Place with its use of wood and stucco. The roofs are low pitched, unlike the flat roof typical of Modern design. Some Modernist architects designed hipped roofs that were so low in pitch that they appeared flat, allowing them to qualify for government financing programs under FHA guidelines which frowned on flat roofs. While it may be that Vaughn chose the roof form to comply with FHA preferences, this approach also reflects his emphasis on a contextual design approach, perhaps gleaned from his years working with Paul Williams, a master in contextual design. Indeed, the low pitched hipped roofs echo the roofs of the single-family homes in the surrounding community. Yet, the even flatter roofs of the laundry buildings and parking structures and other design features create the overall impression of classical Modernist style. The treatment of the windows above the entrances and the wood and stucco treatments framing the entrances to the buildings are clearly in the Modernist style, in line with Bauhaus Movement principles, and show a clear appreciation of geometric shapes and forms, also evident in Langston Terrace. The simplistic geometric openings of the balconies are also very much in the Bauhaus tradition. Yet, one sees the influences of Vaughnís years as a set designer on Hollywood films. As set designs are never flat but rather are rich and complex, the entrances at Lincoln Place include plane upon plane of textured surfaces.
Monotonous row structures are avoided with the myriad modernist entrance and window designs and the site plan layout of the buildings. As pointed out by the leading architectural photographer of Modern residences in the country, Julius Shulman, "I was impressed by the design of the individual structures and the varying shapes used to create a plan that provided enhanced privacy and flexibility for the occupants. Of special significance was his [Ralph Vaughnís] ability to avoid the customary block-shaped apartment building which occurred throughout southern California and his staggering the forms in such a way to create more open spaceÖLincoln Place, with its 795 units is a study in how the application of modernist design principles and Garden City site-planning can create a sense of uniqueness to each space, no matter how large the projectÖ The public would benefit if more new housing projects had the same sensibility to privacy and community as experienced in Lincoln Place."
In Lincoln Place, the floor plans expressed Modernist principles of design ? that the design should provide a functional relation between rooms arranged to suit present day modes of living and facilitate efficient housekeeping. In early brochures of the complex, these modern architectural features were highlighted:
Architecturally perfect apartment designs that incorporate many desirable features, offer the perfect opportunity for gracious living and organized household with their modern facilities and many spacious closetsÖ.The living room is the largest room in the apartment and has large windows allowing for lots of light in this multi- functional room. In the Modernist view, the comfort and aesthetic quality of the large living room would make up for the absence or elimination of a room devoted to more limited functions and requiring more upkeep. Built-in spacious cabinets and drawer space, a built-in breakfast nook and table, and built-in book shelves added to the efficiency of the apartments and functionality of the interior design.
The patios and landscaped recreation areas were designed for easy indoor-outdoor living, also in keeping with the principles of the Modernist Movement. Large windows in the rooms also brought the outside in, as contemplated by Modernists, especially in California. The view through the glass doors and windows became part of the room and created a sympathetic alliance between the buildings and their natural setting.
LARGE MULTI-FAMILY GARDEN APARTMENTS IN LOS ANGELES
The large multi-family garden apartment based on the principles espoused by the RPAA, and grounded in the theories of the Garden City planning principles began to emerge in Los Angeles in the late 1930s and early 1940s. The only known survey of these properties was a survey conducted in connection with the Tax Certification program application of Chase Knolls Apartment, a modern garden apartment complex in the Sherman Oaks area of the San Fernando Valley in the city of Los Angeles. The survey was conducted by Christy McAvoy of Historic Resources Group, a leading historic preservation planning, architecture and development services firm in California. A Multiple Property Listing Services was used and it showed 14 privately owned garden apartments in Los Angeles consisting of one hundred or more units on 10 or more acres constructed prior to 1960 and also the survey showed there were 13 large publicly owned garden apartments built prior to 1960. A copy of the survey is attached hereto as Exhibit "A."
It should be noted that six of the 13 large publicly owned garden apartments have been demolished or remodeled beyond recognition. From the relevant pool of publicly and privately owned garden apartments, there are many fine examples of site plans reflecting the evolution of the English Garden City Movement as applied to social and economic conditions in Los Angeles. Many of the apartment developments are nevertheless, relatively too small to fully explore the highest standards of safety and quiet espoused by proponents of the Garden City Movement in the United States, which called for the development of superblocks with garden courts, curvular pedestrian walkways, grounds away from the noise and activity of major arterial streets, and space to create a truly village-like atmosphere. Still others of these were built on existing street grids which similarly might limit the optimal Garden City principle conditions, at least without extraordinary innovative efforts from the designers.
In some cases, the buildings were placed in monotonous rows of duplexes along streets laid out in rectangular street patterns. In still other cases, the site planning was brilliant but there was no or little variation in the structures, or perhaps the architecture was in an indistinguishable architectural style. In some cases the buildings were not in the Moderne or International style of Lincoln Place, but were in perhaps a Minimal Traditional style or different style.
Suffice is to say many of these may be deemed eligible for the California Register. In any event, all these factors considered, Lincoln Place is a significant example of the property type, as its site planning and architecture in combination play an important role in our the appreciation of the evolution of Garden City principles in Los Angeles. Further, it is a fine example of the garden property type and clearly possesses the defined characteristics required to be strongly representative of the large multi-family garden apartment property type.
Six developments (five others in addition to Lincoln Place) included in the aforementioned survey stand out. A brief summary of the five other projects place Lincoln Place in the historical context of the garden apartment as a unique property type under Criterion Three of the California Register and are discussed below. The geographic location of these developments reflects the urban planning trends of the City of Los Angeles at the time each development was started. Interestingly, there is a good mix of architectural styles, they cover a broad geographic area with Lincoln Place being the only coastal one in Los Angeles, and there is a good mix between public and private developments. They also coincidentally reflect the evolution of the Garden City planning principles in Los Angeles from the late 1930ís through 1950.
First among these developments is Wyvernwood in East Los Angeles, just two miles east of downtown Los Angeles. It was constructed in 1938 and 1939 when downtown Los Angeles was still considered the sole commercial hub of the city. The property included 1,102 apartment units on 60 acres when it was initially conceived. Nine new buildings were added in the 1960ís for at total of 1,175 units. It was developed by the estate of D. Herbert Hostetter and designed by Witmer & Watson, Architects. The project was insured by the FHA under an early pre-World War II mortgage insurance program. It was designed as a self-contained community with a business district, school, play areas, recreational facilities and housing. The existing gridiron street plan was replaced with a new street pattern featuring curved streets. The site plan segregated auto and pedestrian traffic, clustered buildings together around courtyards, and created large areas of open space. The architectural style is Minimal Traditional. This property has been formally determined eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places by the California Office of Historic Preservation.
In 1942, Village Green opened in Baldwin Hills, a community in the South Central section of Los Angeles. The location of this development reflected the then new idea of a decentralized city with regional hubs. It was designed by Reginald D. Johnson and Robert Alexander, with as mentioned previously Clarence Stein, a founding member of RPAA serving as a consultant on the project. As discussed previously RPAA was a planning group consisting of architects, engineers, economists and sociologists who advanced the idea of applying social scientific research to questions of physical design and were leading advocates of the Garden City Movement and its application to the American context. The property has been designated a National Historic Landmark and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Village Green, like Wyvernwood was insured by the FHA. It was developed as a superblock, with complete segregation of autos and pedestrians, with a series of three open greens. A planned child care center, community kitchens, and the entire second phase of the project were never completed. The architecture of the buildings of Baldwin Hills Village Green is clear, simple and unpretentious and in the words of its National Historic Landmark application, "a simplified modernist version of common building types that Lewis Mumford described as ërobust vernacularí."
Also in 1942, a public housing project ? Pueblo Del Rio - was constructed in Los Angeles that reflected this growing garden apartment trend. It was built in the South East section of Los Angeles. It was financed, constructed and managed under the auspices of the Housing Authority of the City of Los Angeles under a federal program designed to alleviate widespread overcrowding and poor housing conditions in the nation caused by the slowdown in housing construction during the Great Depression. Paul R. Williams, one of Californiaís leading architects, was the lead architect of Pueblo Del Rio. It is a good example of the influence of the Garden City and Modern movements in the design of public housing for lower income families. At the time of design of Pueblo Del Rio, Ralph Vaughn was working as a designer in Paul Williamsí firm, though it is not known whether Vaughn worked on this project.
Another large, multi-family garden apartment complex opened in the mid-Wilshire section of Los Angeles, in 1944. Park LaBrea was conceived and developed by the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company prior to World War II as part of a national plan for innovative urban villages. The development featured two-story townhouses. After the War, eighteen high-rise towers were completed on the eastern half of the site. The differences in architectural styles of the townhouses built before the War and the towers designed immediately after mark a turning point in Los Angeles. The townhouses are traditional in style, with many classic features. In contrast, the thirteen story towers are firmly in the International Style of French architect Le Corbusier. While Modernism existed before the War in Los Angeles, it was largely the work of a handful of innovative architects working for artistic clients. A major project like Park LaBrea financed by a major insurance company, although innovative at the time showed broader acceptance of this new style.
The site plan for Park LaBrea is strongly oriented to automobiles with streets running throughout the complex. Breaking with the grid in the surrounding area, the street pattern is defined by diagonal streets and traffic circles. The two-story townhouse units are built almost to the edge of the blocks. The interior of the blocks is devoted to green open spaces.
Another noteworthy apartment complex in Los Angeles was built after World War II in the San Fernando Valley, a community north of Los Angeles. Chase Knolls, designated as an historic Cultural Monument by the City of Los Angeles in 2000, was developed by Joseph Chase on the site of the family dairy. It was designed by Heth Wharton and Ralph Vaughn, the two architects who also designed Lincoln Place. It has 260 units over 14 acres. Both Vaughnís memoir and FHA Section 608 records indicate that the designs for Lincoln Place were completed prior to those for Chase Knolls, but Chase Knolls was constructed before Lincoln Place and opened in 1949. According to Allen Mock, this was for two reasons. First, it was the largest California FHA project and thus took longer to go through the FHA approval process. Second, the developers of Lincoln Place were intent on making this the finest designed project and therefore allowed Wharton and Vaughn to continually refine the design and redraw the plans accordingly.
Although Chase Knolls is a much smaller development than Lincoln Place, their styles are very similar. Still, there are two major differences. Lincoln Place has stronger elements of Ralph Vaughnís "Hollywood styling" sensibility. For example, the large windows above the entrances of Lincoln Place are enclosed with dramatic etched and frosted glass. The openings above the entrances at Chase Knolls have no glass. Also, Lincoln Place takes advantage of the coastal lifestyle and the Modernistsí "indoor-outdoor" design principles by including balconies and patios overlooking its subtropical landscaping, features not included in the Chase Knolls design. Finally, the "punching through" of the common stairwells in Lincoln Place which allow for easy navigation between the formal front courtyards and the informal back courtyards does not exist at Chase Knolls.
In conclusion, there is no better
testament to the ideals reflected in the federal housing policy during
a critical time in our history, the intellectual design principles that
gave rise to the Garden City Movement and the Modern Movement and the ideals
of the architects who created Lincoln Place than the community of the people
who live at Lincoln Place. The community atmosphere in Lincoln Place
has been the subject of a masterís thesis written by Gail Sansbury in 1993
for UCLAís Department of Urban Planning. The thesis describes a history
of long-term enthusiastic tenants, noted for their attachment to their
housing community. Government policy was to create affordable rental
housing in areas that would retain good character. More than fifty
years later, Lincoln Place is the largest garden apartment complex in Venice,
California, a desirable beach community of Los Angeles that serves the
Santa Monica Bay community and workforce. Government policy and financial
support made this development possible. The design philosophy behind
the Garden City Movement was that site planning should create community.
Fifty years later Lincoln Place is a strong community. The idea behind
Modernist theory was that simple functional design would improve the human
environment in the modern industrial society, and the architects of Lincoln
Place sought to bring good design to the affordable dwelling. Fifty
years later Lincoln Place tenants continue to experience the benefits of