Iconic Vision

Iconic Vision

John Parkinson, Architect of Los Angeles

by Stephen Gee

Architect John Parkinson died in 1935, and the Los Angeles Times praised him: "Future generations have only to walk through the streets of Los Angeles to be reminded how much John Parkinson in his lifetime contributed to the city that grew up under his hand." In Iconic Vision: John Parkinson, Architect of Los Angeles, author Stephen Gee proves that this singular visionary created the look of America's most dynamic metropolis, long before the world recognized the city's importance. Consider that among more than four hundred buildings in the City of Angels that carried his architectural imprimatur, John Parkinson designed:

  • Los Angeles City Hall, the most iconic building in California, the tower that changed a futuristic city's skyline forever;
  • Bullock's Wilshire, the towering structure that rivals the Chrysler Building as America's premier Art Deco edifice;
  • Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, the world's only modern stadium to host two Olympic Games, 1932 and 1984—and still home to the USC Trojans;
  • Los Angeles Union Station, the Mission-Moderne-Art Deco masterpiece that brought together California's railroads and became a legend before the first trains roared in.

Los Angeles was a small town plunked amid wide-open spaces when John Parkinson arrived in 1894. Before the century turned, he was already shaping the identity of the fledgling town through architectural innovation. Like the importance of the city he loved, Parkinson's impact shot skyward: he conceived the first skyscraper in Los Angeles and introduced its first steel-frame structures.

And yet, does anyone really know his name? No libraries hold books devoted to his work. No classes are devoted to his designs in architecture schools. It is almost impossible to believe, but no author has significantly presented a study of John Parkinson. Until now.

Iconic Vision, the first biography of the master architect, documents—in remarkable detail and images—Parkinson's monumental contributions to the city he loved. Although other architects' names have become synonymous with the city, John Parkinson designed more landmark buildings in Los Angeles than any other architect, living or dead. And, while other architects may have taken credit for Parkinson's designs, Stephen Gee's penetrating biography establishes the truth. He tells the story of a man who envisioned tomorrow.

  • 208 pages
  • full color throughout
  • 250+ images
  • 12"x9"
  • hardcover; ISBN 978-1-62640-008-5; $50.00
$50.00 USD