The Eclectic Architecture of Venice, Los Angeles

You may be familiar with the Binoculars Building or the Ballerina Clown sculpture, but this seaside neighborhood is home to many other architectural gems. Here are a few, courtesy of the Venice Eclectic tour.
By: Lisa Johnson Mandell
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Photo By: Larry Underhill

Photo By: Larry Underhill

Photo By: Larry Underhill

Photo By: Larry Underhill

Photo By: Larry Underhill

Photo By: Larry Underhill

Photo By: Larry Underhill

Photo By: Larry Underhill

Photo By: Larry Underhill

Photo By: Larry Underhill

Photo By: Larry Underhill

Photo By: Larry Underhill

Binoculars Building

California’s Venice has been known by many names, from “The Slum by the Sea” to “Bohemia-by-the-Beach” to the “Rollerskating Capital of the World,” but there are two unique aspects of the area that will always stand out: its canals, built by developer Abbott Kinney to resemble Italy’s, and the work of its boundary pushing designers and architects. The first thing people usually think of when you mention architecture in Venice is the Chiat-Day Building, aka the “Binoculars Building,” built by Frank O. Gehry and Associates and artists Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen for the giant advertising firm. It’s now the L.A.-area home of Google.

Ballerina With Clown Head Sculpture

Designed by Jonathan Borofsky, this unique sculpture of a ballerina with a clown head dances on a commercial/residential structure on the corner of Main Street and Rose Avenue in Venice. It’s become a community landmark.

Dennis Hopper’s Former Home

Actor Dennis Hopper’s former residence, studio and gallery in Venice has a stark, corrugated metal façade that belies a spacious, quirky and light-filled interior.

Dennis Hopper’s Former Home: Interior

The upper level of actor Dennis Hopper’s former residence, studio and gallery was intended for private use, with a bridge connecting the living room and kitchen with the bedroom suite. It was designed so natural light from the numerous skylights could illuminate both levels.

Arnoldi Studio

Most people know the Arnoldi Studio on Hampton Drive in Venice for its colorful shark mural, done by a local graffiti artist in honor of artist Charles Arnoldi’s daughter, who was a marine biologist.

Arnoldi Studio: Interior

You’d never know from the stylish interior of Venice's Arnoldi Studio that it was originally a Tasty Spuds potato processing plant.

Bay Cities Garage

The Venice building most commonly known as the Bay Cities Garage has also been the office and production studio of designers Charles and Ray Eames. Their famous chairs were produced here.

Bay Cities Garage: Interior

When Ray Eames died, she had her office at Venice's Bay Cities Garage dismantled and its contents packed up and bequeathed to the Library of Congress. The building is currently owned by design firm Keith Bright and Associates, which commissioned architect Frank Israel to re-envision the space.

Ed Moses Studio

From the outside, artist Ed Moses’ Venice studio resembles a horse barn with its projecting cupola lined with clerestory windows. The surfboards are a nod to its beach adjacent location.

Ed Moses Studio: Interior

The interior of Ed Moses’ Venice studio is simple and clean, with indirect light and flat white walls, ideal for exhibiting the minimalist artist’s work. Exposed truss work keeps the space open and airy.

Arnoldi Triplex

Artists Laddie Dill and Charles Arnoldi partnered with Frank Gehry to develop three studios on a vacant in Venice lot they purchased for $15,000. Each 1,500-square-foot volume is clad with a different material – green asphalt shingles, unstained plywood and sky-blue stucco.

Arnoldi Triplex: Interior

On the interior of the Arnoldi Triplex buildings – developed by artists Laddie Dill and Charles Arnoldi – structural elements were left exposed, following Frank Gehry’s belief that many buildings look their most interesting before they are finished. The interiors were left partially unfinished to allow the artists to personalize the space and to collaborate in the creation process.