It has been quite a year since the initial publication of Iconic Vision: John Parkinson, Architect of Los Angeles by Stephen Gee.
We have moved from a collective "John who?" at the book's City Hall Rotunda launch to the dedication of John Parkinson Square at Fifth and Spring, and prominent recognition of Parkinson's genius at last weekend's 75th anniversary celebration at Los Angeles Union Station.
Now, the Los Angeles Register (the "new paper" in town) has asked its readers to look up at the hundred or so Parkinson buildings we have taken for granted for the better part of a century.
Thanks, Stephen, for waking us up...
Prolific architect leaves a legacy
John Parkinson’s name has largely been forgotten by time, but Los Angeles residents – especially those who frequent downtown – see his work every day.
The prolific 20th-century architect designed more than 100 buildings that are still standing in Los Angeles, including many that are longtime symbols of the city: Union Station, City Hall, the Coliseum (now the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum), the Braly Block (now the Continental Building, and for 50 years the city’s tallest building, aside from City Hall) and the Homer Laughlin Building (now Grand Central Market).
Stephen Gee, a senior producer for a British TV network, is at work on a documentary about Parkinson, a Brit like Gee himself. Gee recently wrote a book that grew out of his research for the film, “Iconic Vision: John Parkinson, Architect of Los Angeles.” He expects to finish his documentary, by his company Clear Sky Films, in about six months.
“I work downtown, and out of my window I can see 22 Parkinson buildings,” Gee said. “Once you figure out where his buildings are, you’re just surrounded by them all the time.”
Yet more people know Frank Lloyd Wright designed a house in Hollywood than know of Parkinson’s impact on Los Angeles, Gee said.
Parkinson has had some more recent recognition. Last week, city officials dedicated the intersection of West 5th and South Spring streets as John Parkinson Square. Parkinson’s designs stand on all four corners: the Alexandria Hotel, the Crocker Citizens National Bank building, the Security Building and the Rowan Building.
With the remaking of downtown, “it’s a good time for people to rediscover him,” Gee said.
“Even 80 years after his death, he still kind of defines the city.”
Photos are republished from “Iconic Vision: John Parkinson, Architect of Los Angeles,” courtesy of Angel City Press.
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