Thursday, August 12, 2010

Mystery History -- Solved!

This one was a little tricky, but I didn't think I'd stump everybody the way I did. There were plenty of interesting guesses, though.

In the photo above, a huge tent is perched at the top of a carved-out hillside in preparation for a celebration marking the start of construction of Art Center College of Design in 1974.

Here are two wider views that show the massiveness of the swath that was cut along the hillsides:

Art Center College of Design was founded in 1930 in Los Angeles, and the move to Pasadena 40-plus years later was a big, big deal.

Local dignitaries, special guests with household names and lots of Art Center students and faculty gathered to celebrate what would become one of Pasadena's finest institutions of higher learning.

Don Kubly was president of Art Center at the time and is shown here with a model of the campus featuring the building designed by architect Craig Ellwood (the female student isn't identified):

Here's an excerpt from his 1971 President's Report:

“We are not just moving from one building to another; we are creating a whole new climate for a design college that can influence, not just our own college community, but also the design thinking and attitudes of all those we serve outside of our community—the businesses, the industries, and the society itself.”
Here's Kubly (center) at the event, toasting the occasion with, from left, Pasadena Mayor Mortimer J. Matthews, architect Craig Ellwood, designer Charles Eames and board member Philip S. Fogg.

Here's Mayor Matthews's photo from the Hall of Mayors:

Excerpt from a Nov. 16, 1974, Pasadena Star-News article written by Gary Clark:

It couldn't quite be called a groundbreaking since giant earthmovers long since had carved a bench into the San Rafael Hills overlooking the Rose Bowl and Arroyo Seco.

So instead, guests clustered under a large white-and-yellow-striped tent to sip champagne, to see how the $7.6 million campus will look when completed and to hear about the accomplishments from members of the Art Center family. . .

. . .The campus, located near the top of Lida Street, is scheduled for completion in 1976. The panorama of Pasadena offers itself as a view, but unlike many large-scale developments, the Art Center gives something back in its design.

The most striking feature shown in the artists' renderings and models in the low, single-building structure which will house the entire center. The building will be set back away from the rim of the lot so that the steel and bronzed glass building will be partially hidden -– harmonizing with rather than dominating the landscape.
After all these years, what we now call the hillside campus is lush with sycamore trees, pines and other flora.

Art Center has a number of photos in the historic archives pages of their website.

There's also video of the event in the tent.

Many thanks to Art Center College of Design for use of the historic photos and video.


Havisham Patrizzi said...

It's so Madmen, the photo of the Mayor et al. I love that the architect (rarrr!) and designer Charles Eames are the only guys without a cocktail. Love this post.

Trish said...

see what happens when I have a week from heck and don't get over here to give my guess? I'd have recognized that dust bowl anywhere. That and I think I can see my grandparents and great grandmothers house in the pic.

glad you were able to stump the rest of the usuals!

Petrea said...

I'm so impressed that Eames was there. But Pasadena often impresses me. Your whole post is impressive.

Jean Spitzer said...

Love this post, too.

Kind of embarrassed (but not surprised)that I couldn't guess it; time and plantings have transformed and much improved its looks from the bulldozed site.

Pasadena Adjacent said...

From the Star News

"that the steel and bronzed glass building will be partially hidden -– harmonizing with rather than dominating the landscape"

I think every design committee involved with new development and especially concerning hillside development, should be FORCED to take the above into effect. Pasadena has allowed some real clunkers to dominate it's hillsides.

btw: the link to Elwood was very interesting. A reason why I love revisionist history. A chance to see overdue credit awarded