Gamble House Gives 'Tour' Around Pasadena Architectural Gems

Friday, November 22, 2013 | 8:44 am

Pop culture humorist, Charles Phoenix, will “tour” the audience around the undiscovered and underrated mid-century architectural establishments in Pasadena in a lecture titled “Architecture in LA: The Pasadena Edition” at Art Center College of Design, Ahmanson Auditorium on Sunday, November 24 at 4:00 p.m.

“I am an architectural enthusiast. I’ve driven around Southern California for the last 15 years, running around like crazy, just trying to find the most unusual and unique buildings,” Phoenix said.

Phoenix will discuss a variety of establishments in Pasadena, including space-age drive-ins, coffee shops, bowling alleys, strip malls, shopping centers, extreme homes, dingbat apartments, fast food stands and theme parks.

“I also talked about being in the environment, I talked about what are the most precious buildings in all of Los Angeles, I talked about the history of fast food and I talked about drive-in movie theaters and drive-in restaurants and dingbat apartments and heavily beamed homes,” Phoenix said.

“Architecture in LA” is part of The Gamble House’s 2013-2014 Sidney D. Gamble Lecture Series.

Phoenix said many “underdogs or under-appreciated buildings” in the Southland actually have unique characteristics.

“This is about Southern California’s greatness. That’s what this is about — this is about our built environment. This is about discovering the treasures in your own backyard,” he said. “There’s something interesting around every corner no matter where you go. And around some corners, we have extraordinary gem.”

Dingbat apartments, characterized by its starburst-shaped fixture in front of the building, were mostly built in the 50s and 60s but are still present until today, Phoenix said.

“Look at apartment buildings around town especially the ones built in the 50s and 60s and it’s still there,” he said. “I’m sure that you’d noticed them in your life because they’re beautiful.”

The self-proclaimed “retro daddy” has his own favorite when it comes to Southern California structures.

“I think that the most important building to our culture in Southern California is the Donut Shop — a drive-through donut stand in La Puente. It’s called The Donut Hole,” he said.

Phoenix said he had also been in other parts of the United States, in Europe and in Asia, searching for unique establishments “along the way.”

General admission costs $30, while a discounted price of $25 applies for the members of Friends of the Gamble House, a support group of the University of Southern California dedicated to the financial support of The Gamble House.

Phoenix is a performer, humorist, chef and author. He explores America’s classic and kitschy pop cultural past and present, and predicts retro-inspired future trends through his live shows, videos, media appearances and books.

Art Center College of Design is located at 1700 Lida St. For more information, call (626) 793-3334 or visit

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