Royce and Powell never fail to amaze the eye, but you may be surprised to learn about the historical and aesthetic wonders that surround the university’s borders.
From its earliest development in the late 1880s, the area encompassing Brentwood, Westwood and West Los Angeles has undergone considerable change, while still holding on to a wealth of historical enrichment today.
In the decade after the 1919 founding of the University of California, Los Angeles, a master plan was devised for the construction of Westwood Village as a way to use the free land to create a community around the university. The plan delineated a Mediterranean-style shopping area with angled streets and eccentric blocks, complete with tile-roofed, Spanish Colonial Revival buildings and walk-through plazas.
Named after the developers’ of the Village, Edwin and Harold Janss, the Janss Dome was the first building to be constructed in this new commercial venture in 1929. The building, which sits at the intersection of Broxton Avenue and Westwood Boulevard, housed the headquarters of the Janss Investment Company, and on the second floor, the first male dormitory for UCLA students.
Key features of this building include a high portico, arched windows and a dome with an aqua and white zigzag pattern and gold leafing atop an octagonal base, which all remain distinguishable today.
While the structure has been adapted to house different businesses over the years, such as a clothing store, music store and even a Japanese restaurant, it is now home to Broxton brewery.
Regency Village Theatre
Further down the block in the summer of 1931, emerged a theater that was then called the Fox Westwood Village. The building is comprised of a soaring 17-story tower topped by a three-sided spire, and it incorporates a unique Mediterranean design with the UCLA blue and gold colors, also emphasizing a linkage to the university.
The “wedding cake” tower, which is largely classified by its Spanish Colonial Revival style with Classic Revival influences, remains virtually unchanged today, although now called the Regency Village Theatre.
Many UCLA students will recognize the cylindrical building on the corner of Westwood Boulevard and Lindbrook Drive as Peet’s Coffee & Tea, and may be surprised to find out that the building originally took form as Ralphs grocery store in 1929.
Following along with the Mediterranean architectural guidelines for Westwood Village, Russell Collins designed the Bratskeller/Egyptian Theatre with a faux stone finish on the exterior walls that has since been covered over by stucco.
Since Ralphs’ departure, the building has housed numerous businesses including a movie theater called the United Artists Egyptian Theatre, as well as a German-themed restaurant, the Bratskeller restaurant. In reference to these businesses, this iconic building is commonly known as the Bratskeller/Egyptian Theatre.
The Getty Villa
Opened in 1974, the Getty Villa was introduced as a Roman-style villa museum in Malibu, and established itself as an important cultural landmark in Los Angeles.
Housing a collection of Greek and Roman antiquities, in addition to European paintings and 18th-century French furniture, the museum was cultivated by businessman and philanthropist J. Paul Getty, who combined his fascination with the ancient Mediterranean world with a willingness to share his collection with the public.
Getty was able to achieve his vision of displaying art in the setting of an ancient Roman residence by drawing upon characteristically Roman architectural details sourced in ancient history. The villa incorporates details such as Pompeian-style wall decorations and mosaic floors.
Preceding even the boulevard on which the chapel resides, the Wadsworth Chapel is the oldest remaining building on Wilshire, built in 1900. The creation of this late-Victorian structure was part of a larger effort to care for volunteer soldiers of the Civil War and Indian Wars, and provided a place of worship for the old soldiers.
This building possesses an interesting duality in that it contains two separate chapels separated by a double brick wall. A Protestant chapel sits on south end and a Catholic chapel sits at the north.
While now called the Veterans Affairs West Los Angeles center, the once active building has since closed to the public after its ground foundations were loosened by the 1971 Sylmar-San Fernando earthquake. While certain architectural features such remain intact, millions of dollars in restoration and repair are still needed.
Los Angeles California Temple
The Los Angeles California Temple, residing on Santa Monica Boulevard, was the first temple ever built in California, completed in 1955, and is currently operated by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The temple fills its spacious grounds with lush greenery, including Canary Island pine trees, palm trees, olive trees and even rare Chinese ginkgo trees. The space is further adorned with fountains, a reflection pool and family-themed statues.
The temple is equally as lavish inside, featuring hand-painted murals on the walls several ordinance rooms such as the Creation Room, Garden Room and Celestial Room.
Since its public opening in 1955, the temple has undergone some remodeling and refurbishment, but continues to remain an important structure in the historical timeline of Los Angeles and California as a whole.