12 nights, £3,960
Lecturer: Harry Charrington
Modernism was made for California. Here Modernist architecture blossomed unencumbered by the concerns and limitations of the Old World in a climate that adored flat roofs and amid a hilly topography that called for structural daring.
Louis Kahn’s Salk Institute is perhaps the only true example of the sublime in twentieth-century architecture; Charles and Ray Eames’ Studio House the most innovative; the pioneering Frank Lloyd Wright’s Hanna House perhaps the most delightful. Equally remarkable are the cities, Los Angeles, the City of 4 Ecologies, and everyone’s favourite, San Francisco.
And it hasn’t let up in the 21st century; Richard Meier’s hill-top Getty Center, Raphael Moneo’s Cathedral of Our Lady of Our Angels, Herzog & de Mouron’s de Young Museum in San Francisco.
Still under construction, Paolo Soleri’s eco-city of Arcosanti in the Arizona desert is both a homage to Taliesin West and a suggestion of how the American West might be brought into an ecologically viable future.
A number of these buildings are not usually open to the public and it is possible we will not be able to include everything listed.
DAY 1: LONDON TO PHOENIX (ARIZONA)—fly at c. 2.30 p.m. from London Heathrow to Phoenix (c. 10 hours), arriving in time for dinner—the hotel was built in 1929 under the supervision of Frank Lloyd Wright—overnight Phoenix.
DAY 2: PHOENIX, TALIESIN WEST—morning in Taliesin West, Wright’s desert camp; desert shelters, performance spaces, offices—in Downtown Phoenix see Wright’s Gammage Auditorium (1959, possibly his worst building) and Antoine Predock’s Fine Arts Center (1989), stark concrete with desert planting—some free time—overnight Phoenix.
DAY 3: ARCOSANTI, LA JOLLA—Arcosanti, Paolo Soleri’s dream city in the Arizona desert, was begun in the 1970s as a resistance to urban sprawl; it remains work in progress—fly in the afternoon to San Diego and drive north to the seafront town of La Jolla—overnight La Jolla.
DAY 4: LA JOLLA, PALOS VERDES, LOS ANGELES—Louis Kahn’s magisterial Salk Institute (1958), an inspiring space for scientific research—Neurosciences Institute (Bille Tsien & Tod Williams 1995)—Palos Verdes Peninsula—in Los Angeles, the Wayfarer’s Chapel (1951), acclaimed work by Lloyd Wright Jr—first of four nights in Downtown Los Angeles.
DAY 5: LOS ANGELES: PACIFIC PALISADES & WEST HOLLYWOOD—house-cum-studio of Charles and Ray Eames (1948) with pre-fabricated cabins, colour panels and glass—the Getty Center, a hilltop sequence of travertine, glass and steel; time to see the extensive art collections and gardens—overnight Los Angeles.
DAY 6: LOS ANGELES: DOWNTOWN—Moneo’s Cathedral (2002), of gargantuan proportions, the Gehry’s Walt Disney Concert Hall (2003) and Isozaki’s Museum of Contemporary Art (1983) with time for independent exploration of the collection—overnight Los Angeles.
DAY 7: LOS ANGELES: EARLY MODERNISM—the Schindler House is one of the finest examples of early modern architecture— F.L. Wright’s Hollyhock House (in 1922) resembles a Mayan temple—in Pasadena, the Gamble House (Greene & Greene 1908), a perfect Swiss chalet with original furnishings—overnight Los Angeles.
DAY 8: LOS ANGELES TO SAN FRANCISCO—depart at 10.15 a.m. on the train to Oakland, a 12-hour journey passing spectacular scenery—lunch and dinner on board—overnight San Francisco.
DAY 9: BERKELEY, SAN FRANCISCO—in the university town of Berkeley, Maybeck’s fairy-tale First Church of Christ the Scientist (1910)—cross the Golden Gate Bridge to Herzog & de Meuron’s landmark De Young Museum (2005) and Renzo Piano’s revamp of the California Academy of Science (re-opens November 2008).
DAY 10: NAPA VALLEY—in the world-renowned vineyards of the Napa Valley visit two winery buildings of architectural distinction including Clos Pegase (Michael Graves, 1987), ‘a temple to wine and art’—wine tastings—overnight San Francisco.
DAY 11: SAN FRANCISCO—the Hallidie Building, the world’s first glass-curtain-walled structure (Willis Polk 1918), the Frank Lloyd Wright building in Maiden Lane, prototype for the New York Guggenheim, and the Museum of Modern Art, Mario Botta’s striking pile of red bricks (1995)—free afternoon.
DAY 12: STANFORD—to Stanford University to see Wright’s Hanna House (mid 1930s), home to the professor and family for nearly forty years and Wright’s signature hexagonal building—fly from San Francisco c. 5.00 p.m.
DAY 13: arrive London Heathrow at c. 11.00 a.m.
Price: £3,960 (deposit £300)–this includes: air travel (economy class) with British Airways (aircraft: Boeing 747)–coach for transfers and excursions–first-class rail travel from L.A. to Oakland–accommodation as described below–breakfasts, three lunches and eight dinners with wine, water, coffee (& meals on flights)–admission charges to museums, etc.–tips for waiters, drivers, guides, porters, etc.–taxes (federal, state, city, airport)–the services of the lecturer–single supplement £620–price without flights £3,620.
Harry Charrington: Senior Lecturer at the Department of Architecture of the University of West England–read Architecture at Cambridge, founded Scroope (Cambridge Architectural Journal)– practised architecture in Finland– lectured at the Universities of Helsinki and Newcastle, curated Alvar Aalto exhibitions in London and Finland (1998/9).
Visas: British citizens can enter the USA without a visa providing their passport is machine-readable; we will advise on this–other nationals should check entry requirements with their local US consulate.
Hotels: in Phoenix (2 nights) attractive hotel complex in extensive grounds, classically-furnished rooms, beautiful gardens, swimming pools, good restaurant–in La Jolla (1 night): comfortable hotel with eclectically furnished rooms, gardens and pool overlooking the Pacific–in Los Angeles, Downtown (4 nights): functional hotel, uniform rooms, bland furnishings, outdoor pool, good Asian/US restaurant–in San Francisco (4 nights): built in 1910 and retains Beaux Arts style, fully refurbished, colourful, comfortable, elegant, restaurant in the former ballroom–hotels are comparable to 4-star with Phoenix and San Francisco being 4-star plus.
How strenuous? There is a lot of walking and standing around and getting on and off coaches–some visits are on rough ground (desert) and require sure-footedness–with transatlantic flights, a day-long rail journey and four hotels, the tour is tiring–average distance by coach per day: 55 miles.
Music tickets: there may be performances in Los Angeles or San Francisco; programmes will be available nearer the time.
Small group: between 14 and 22 participants.