Architect Welton Becket and landscape architect Ruth Shellhorn completed fifteen projects together during the middle of the 20th century, including Bullock's Pasadena, the Prudential Home Office on Wilshire, and the futuristic Santa Monica Civic Auditorium. This heavily illustrated lecture looks at their work as a means to examining development of the design principles that influenced the indoor-outdoor living ethos of the midcentury era in Southern California.
These principles were expressed in the clean lines of contemporary architecture or the spare adaptations of Mediterranean-style structures, and included experimentation with modern building materials and methods of construction. Landscape design became free flowing, relaxed, and casual. It explored and rearticulated features of an already well-established tradition of California indoor-outdoor-living, such as transparent boundaries between indoors and out; comfort, livability, and convenience in open, adaptable garden spaces; modulation of natural light; and enframement and screening of views.
Becket and Shellhorn's work stood out for its quality, accolades from the public and design community, and the number of awards they received. All of their projects synchronized Becket’s cool architectural style with the southern California look of Shellhorn’s landscape designs. Summing up the forward-looking attitude and impact of their work, architect Lou Naidorf declared, "Together, Welton Becket and Ruth Shellhorn put post-war Los Angeles on the map."
Kelly Comras, FASLA, is a licensed landscape architect and member of the State Bar of California. Her practice focuses on community-based open space design that relates to the study or use of land. Her book, Ruth Shellhorn, was published by University of Georgia Press in 2016, along with a companion documentary that can be seen without charge at lalh.org.
A book signing of Kelly Comras’s Ruth Shellhorn (University of Georgia Press, 2016, in collaboration with Library of American Landscape History) will follow her presentation.
Things to Know
This event is for all ages.
This event is wheelchair accessible.
The organizer of this event is Modernism Week.
Event Check-in Location
Modernism Week CAMP Theater, 575 N Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs, CA 92262
Photo Credits: Bullock's Pasadena, 1947. Photograph by Julius Shulman. Courtesy J. Paul Getty Trust. Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles., Prudential Insurance, Western Home Office, 1949. Photograph by Douglas M. Simmonds. Courtesy of Kelly Comras., Buffum's Department Store, Santa Ana, 1956. Photograph by Julius Shulman. Courtesy J. Paul Getty Trust. Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles., Santa Monica Civic Auditorium, 1958. Photograph by Julius Shulman. Courtesy J. Paul Getty Trust. Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles., Santa Monica Civic Auditorium, 1960. Photograph by Ruth Shellhorn. Courtesy Ruth Shellhorn Papers, UCLA., Mutual Savings and Loan, Pasadena, 1979. Photograph by Kelly Comras.
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