Earlier this month, influential (though often overlooked) modern architect Gin Wong died at the age of 94.
Born in Guangzhou, China, Wong moved to the United States as a child and grew up in Los Angeles. He was a student of William Pereira at the University of Southern California and became a key part of Pereira’s partnership with Charles Luckman, helping to design some of the firm’s most notable projects. When Pereira and Luckman split, Wong helped establish Pereira & Associates, and eventually became the firm’s president.
In 1973, Wong founded his own firm, Gin Wong Associates, and won commissions for projects in California and beyond.
But it was in Los Angeles that the architect designed some of his most recognizable works, including a few projects that have become some of the city’s most revered landmarks. We’ve rounded up a few of the most notable buildings that Wong played a part in designing.
1. LAX Theme Building
Plenty of great architects get credit for the design of the beloved Theme Building at LAX—William Pereira, Charles Luckman, Welton Becket, and Paul Williams, to name a few. But as a 2015 Los Angeles Times profile of the building notes, it was Gin Wong who led the project’s large design team. Since its 1960 construction, the building has become one of the most instantly recognizable structures in all of Los Angeles.
2. CBS Television City
One of the earliest projects Wong worked on with Pereira and Luckman, CBS Television City opened in 1952. A New York Times obituary for Wong notes that the architect “had a principal role” in designing the modern office complex.
3. Union/76 Gas Station
This soaring canopy design was originally planned for a structure at LAX. When that project didn’t work out, Wong recycled the Googie-style concept for a humble gas station in Beverly Hills. In an urban area full of places to fuel up, this is perhaps the most recognizable and visually impressive spot to do so.
4. Los Angeles Center Studios
It’s hard to believe now, but upon its completion in 1958, this 12-story tower just west of the Financial District was the tallest building in the Downtown area. Built as an office building for Union Oil, it’s another Pereira & Luckman project that Wong played a key role in designing. The structure was converted into a film production center in 1998.
5. ARCO Tower
One of the most ambitious projects undertaken by Wong after forming his own firm, this Westlake office tower was constructed in 1989 and remains one of the tallest structures west of the 110 freeway.
- Mapping 15 of Los Angeles's Most Glorious Remaining Googies [Curbed LA]
- Los Angeles's 20 Most Iconic Buildings, Mapped [Curbed LA]
- The 10 best Art Deco buildings in Los Angeles [Curbed LA]