Houses in Motion

by Ginny Chien

Copyright, The Times Mirror Company; Los Angeles Times 2001 Allrights reserved)

You won’t see Brad and Jennifer’s love nest on this Hollywood tour. Rather, cruising with Architecture Tours L.A. means admiring masterpieces by Frank Lloyd Wright, Richard Neutra and other greats while riding in a flamboyantly finned black 1962 Cadillac. “Men love this car,” says tour guide and architectural historian Laura Massino, who often hears hoots while en route. “It took me a while to get used to the stares.”

A Hollywood resident with a master’s in architectural history from Cal State Los Angeles, Massino offers separate tours at $50 per person of five neighborhoods (Hollywood, Silver Lake, Hancock Park/ Miracle Mile, West Hollywood/Beverly Hills and Pasadena), with several more in the works. Massino and up to five passengers take in a minimum of 50 sites per two-hour trip. Customized tours are also available, including a route composed solely of designs by Wright and Frank Gehry.

The Hollywood tour includes the Capitol Records tower (a landmark in the “programmatic” style, with a structure resembling the object it sells); the Art Deco Pantages Theatre; and Wright’s Mayan- inspired Ennis-Brown House, which has fallen into disrepair. A stream of Greene & Greene Craftsman homes runs through the Pasadena tour. Massino’s most popular route is Silver Lake, which boasts a cluster of Modernist gems by Neutra, Rudolf M. Schindler and other designers. “Mid-century designs are hot right now,” she says.

A one-woman show, she has driven her routes more than 100 times during her 10 months in business. Massino, 41, likes the fact that no single style dominates the city’s architecture. The self-described “architecture geek” sees L.A. as more receptive to avant-garde ideas than other big cities, fostering creativity among the important architects based here over the years. “There’s a lot of bad architecture in L.A.,” she concedes, “but my mission is to focus on the amazing stuff, which has played such an important role in this art.”

Author(s): GINNY CHIEN
Section: Los Angeles Times Magazine; Times Magazine Desk
Publication title: The Los Angeles Times. (Record edition). Los Angeles, Calif.: Sep 23, 2001. pg. 1
Source Type: Newspaper
ISSN/ISBN: 04583035