Thursday, March 21, 2013

San Fernando Valley ranch-style homes

I attended a fascinating presentation today by architect Alan Hess on ranch homes in the San Fernando Valley.  Mr. Hess has written many architecture books about mid-century modern homes, coffee-shop architecture (the so-called "Googie" architecture), specific architects like John Lautner and Frank Lloyd Wright, etc.  Needless to say, he knows what he's talking about. I learned the following nuggets:

- Did you know how the "ranch" got its name? Why, from popular culture and the movies, of course.  This particular style of development ran parallel to America's love for anything "western."

- Toluca Woods was the first large-scale planned community and predated Levittown in NY.

- The suburbs aren't just sprawl.  At the time they were built in the 1950s, they solved America's post-war housing shortage and were really planned communities.  Most were anchored by grocery stores, schools, and other things consumers needed at the time.  They were the original walking communities (nobody in those days knew about the need to walk to the tanning place or the craft beer bar.)

Most of Mr. Hess's books can be found online at

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