Top Architectural Sights to See in Los Angeles

Outstanding Buildings and Famous Architecture

Los Angeles is strong on style and design. And that includes great architecture. From the early Twentieth Century through today, the world's most famous and influential architects have created amazing buildings, homes and structures in LA and Southern California. These are just a few of the most beautiful - and unusual places you can see on your personal architecture tour.

Many of these Los Angeles architectural sights were selected as finalists in the America's Favorite Architecture contest run by the American Institute of Architects. 

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    Performing Arts Center and Disney Concert Hall, Los Angeles
    ••• Performing Arts Center and Disney Concert Hall, Los Angeles. ©2007 Betsy Malloy Photography. Used by Permission.

    111 South Grand Avenue
    Los Angeles, CA

    Funded by the Disney family to honor Walt Disney and designed by architect Frank Gehry, it's one of the most dramatic sights in downtown Los Angeles. Sinuous shapes in shiny metal lend themselves to interpretations ranging from blooming flower to a sailing ship, but ultimately, it's up to the viewer.

    See It: Go for a performance, take a complimentary audio or a guided tour, offered most days, unless there's a matinee performance

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    Broad Museum, Los Angeles
    ••• Exterior of the Broad Museum. Bruno Ehrs / Getty Images

    221 S Grand Ave
    Los Angeles, CA

    The Broad is a contemporary art museum in Downtown Los Angeles, named for philanthropist Eli Broad. It houses the Broad art collections.

    The building was designed by architecture firm Diller Scofidio + Renfro. It sits just across the street from the Disney Hall and designed to both contrast with the Disney Hall's perforated metal exterior and respect its presence.

    See It: You can walk by anytime, but getting in is harder. Admission is free, but you need a timed ticket, and they get booked to capacity weeks ahead of time.

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    Union station hall ,Downtown Los Angeles
    ••• Union Station, Los Angeles. Museimage / Getty Images

    800 N. Alameda
    Los Angeles, CA

    Partly designed by John and Donald B. Parkinson, it was the last great railway station to be built and not the grandest, but it's been in so many films that we all recognize it when we see it.

    See It: Open any time. Los Angeles Conservancy offers guided tours once a month.

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    Richard Riordan Central Library, Financial District, Los Angeles, California, USA, May 2010
    ••• Richard Riordan Central Library. Barry Winiker / Getty Images

    630 W. 5th Street
    Los Angeles, CA

    Architect Bertram Grosvenor Goodhue designed it to in the style of ancient Egypt. In the early 1990s, it was expanded in what renovation architect Norman Pfeiffer called "Modernist/Beaux Arts style."

    See It: The library is open daily. Docent-led tours are given daily.

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    Gamble House, Pasadena
    ••• Gamble House, Pasadena. Barry Winiker / Getty Images

    4 Westmoreland Place
    Pasadena, CA

    An excellent example of American Arts and Crafts style architecture, Gamble House was designed in 1908 by Charles and Henry Greene for David and Mary Gamble (Procter and Gamble).

    See It: Tours are given Thursday-Sunday

    The Gamble House is just one among several houses in LA that are also museums you can visit. You can find more of them in the Los Angeles House Museum Guide.

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    Hollywood Bowl.
    ••• Hollywood Bowl. Lonely Planet / Getty Images

    2301 North Highland Avenue
    Hollywood, CA

    Initially a temporary structure designed by Lloyd Wright, the nested quarter-spheres form a fitting backdrop for the caliber of artists who perform on its stage.

    See It: The best way is to attend a concert.

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    Barnsdall Art Park, Hollyhock House designed by Frank Lloyd Wright (b.1919)
    ••• Hollyhock House. Walter Bibikow / Getty Images

    4800 Hollywood Boulevard
    Los Angeles, CA

    One of Frank Lloyd Wright's most important designs, it's built of textile blocks in the style of a Mayan temple.

    See It: You can take a public tour. Some of them are self-guided

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    Case Study House #22, The Stahl House
    ••• Case Study House #22, The Stahl House. Matt Kirschner/Flickr/CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

    1635 Woods Drive
    Los Angeles, CA

    Designed by Pierre Koenig, it's often called Case Study House #22. Its minimalist style and linear design elements connect with the grid of Los Angeles streets which can be seen from the windows.

    See It: It's a private residence and not easy to see from the street, but they offer small group tours through their website.

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    Hollywood: John Sowden House

    John Sowden House, Hollywood
    ••• John Sowden House, Hollywood. Kent Kanouse/Flickr/CC BY-NC 2.0

    Located at 5121 Franklin, this imposing, Mayan-inspired facade is a 1926 creation of Lloyd Wright (son of Frank Lloyd Wright) and is considered by some to be the pinnacle of his residential work. The shape of the window has earned it the nickname of "Jaws House."

    If it looks a bit familiar, the house was used as the home of Howard Hughes in Martin Scorsese's The Aviator. It is also the former home of Black Dahlia murder suspect Dr. George Ho

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    West Hollywood: The Chemosphere

    Chemosphere House
    ••• Chemosphere House. Corbis via Getty Images / Getty Images

     Built in 1960 at 7776 Torreyson Drive in West Hollywood (in the hills overlooking Studio City and just off Mulholland Drive), The Chemosphere was designed by architect John Lautner. The Chemosphere House designed by the architect John Lautner for Nouard Gootgeld.

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    Venice Beach House by Frank Gehry

    Venice Beach House by Frank Gehry
    ••• Venice Beach House by Frank Gehry. © Roger Ressmeyer/Corbis/VCG / Getty Images
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    Santa Monica: Frank Gehry Residence

    Frank Gehry House, Santa Monica
    ••• Frank Gehry House, Santa Monica. IK's World Trip/Flickr/CC BY 2.0
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    The exterior of the Getty Center in Los Angeles, California.
    ••• Getty Center. Museimage / Getty Images

    1200 Getty Center Drive
    Los Angeles, CA

    Designed by architect Richard Meier, this complex occupies an entire hilltop just off fabled Sunset Blvd. We think it's one of the greatest outdoor spaces in Southern California, with the architecture eclipsing the collection it houses.

    See It: Special architecture tours given by well-informed docents.

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    Christ Cathedral, Diocese of Orange county, Garden Grove, California, USA
    ••• Christ Cathedral. Douglas Sacha / Getty Images

    12141 Lewis Street
    Garden Grove, CA

    Designed by architect Philip Johnson, some call it "religious reinterpretation of the crystal palace."

    See It: The cathedral is under renovation after being purchased by the Catholic Church. You can see it from the outside only.