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Lucille Bryant Raport, a midcentury architect who made her mark on the Valley

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“One of the most respected and sought after architects in the Valley”

A 1961 photo of the architect. At the time, she was one of just 350 licensed female architects in the country.
Courtesy of Los Angeles Public Library Photo Collection

It’s no secret that the San Fernando Valley’s post-war growth was explosive. The American Institute of Architects’ San Fernando Valley chapter estimates that more than three‐quarters of new subdivisions created in Los Angeles between 1945 and the early 1950s were built in the Valley.

It was in that flush era of building that Lucille Bryant Raport landed in 1946 to open her own practice in North Hollywood, where she also lived. (Some records say her practice was in Toluca Lake; neighborhood boundary debates are timeless.)

She arrived with a growing resume. A licensed architect, Raport had already worked as a designer for Skidmore, Owings and Merrill in Chicago, according to Los Angeles Public Library’s senior librarian Christina Rice. And, professional records indicate, in 1945, she was the chief assistant to noted modernist Richard Neutra.

By the late 1950s, the local paper, the Valley Times, had dubbed her “one of the most respected and sought after architects in the Valley.”

Though her projects were varied, Raport’s work was often residential and in the Valley. She designed glamorous modern single-family homes, including the Parr-Schoenfeld house in the Hollywood Hills near the Cahuenga Pass and modest yet stylish apartment buildings across the Valley.

Her Maximes apartment building in Panorama City was meant to give the dweller the “mood of enjoyment and excitement suggested by far-away places,” the Valley Times wrote in 1962.

Maximes, a 41-unit apartment at 8363 Willis Avenue in Panorama City. Designed by Lucille Bryant Raport, the building was intended “to give the dweller the mood of enjoyment and excitement suggested by far-away places.” Photo dated 1962.
Courtesy of Los Angeles Public Library photo collection

In another nod to the allure of distant locales, Raport designed Canoga Park’s tiki-chic Polynesia apartments, which originally featured decorative tiki pillars holding up a canopy on one side of the building.

Many of her apartment buildings and homes still stand today (though some of the apartments are a bit worse for wear.

The Parr house, now the Parr-Schoenfeld house. Photo by Julius Shulman.
© J. Paul Getty Trust. Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles
Photo by Julius Shulman
© J. Paul Getty Trust. Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles

Perhaps because there were so few women in the field, Raport seems to have networked tirelessly. Raport belonged to the Association for Women in Architecture, serving as its president in 1952, and she was active in a social club for professional women, according to Rice.

Raport also joined the Architects of the San Fernando Valley shortly after its formation in 1946, and served as its president in 1949. That professional association grew to become the AIA’s San Fernando Valley chapter.

The group “was extremely proud to have Lucille” and another female architect, Olive Kingsley Chadeayne, “as members because they were the most notable architects of the group,” Desiree Gemigniani, the executive director of the AIA’s San Fernando Valley chapter, tells Curbed.

1951 Kahn residence in Toluca Lake. Raport also did a 1960s-era addition to the house. Photo by Julius Shulman.
© J. Paul Getty Trust. Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles

Raport’s peers recognized her talents. In 1950, a Los Angeles Times article announced she was one of five architects appointed to a committee tasked with studying ways for builders and architects to work together more efficiently to create architect-designed housing that was both low cost and high quality.

She was among four architects assigned to work at the local level, along with Welton Becket and Edward Fickett. The committee was more practical than prestigious, aimed at garnering more commissions for architects, but that makes it even more important that Raport was appointed.

Raport’s renown appears to have spread beyond the bowl of the San Fernando Valley. Her work was featured in Architectural Record and National Architect. Here buildings were also photographed by Julius Shulman, famed for capturing the work of some of California’s best modernists.

A 1962 article in the Valley Times referred to her as “one of the few women architects who has achieved national recognition.”

But after the 1960s, mentions of her become harder to find, leaving an incomplete picture of the woman who was instrumental in making the midcentury buildings in the Valley that are now so popular.