With Black History month now underway, we wanted to focus on Paul Revere Williams (Feb. 18, 1894 – Jan. 23, 1980), a leading practitioner of mid-century modern design in Southern California and the first Black architect to become a member of the American Institute of Architects (AIA) in 1923.
Metro’s Purple (D Line) Extension has a unique connection to one of William’s last commissioned works: the Linde Medical Center located at the northeast corner of Wilshire Boulevard and Gayley Avenue. The Linde Medical Center, now referred to as the Westwood Medical Plaza, will be a future entrance for the Purple (D Line) Extension’s Westwood/UCLA Station.
While the 12-story Linde Medical Center has undergone many changes since it was built in 1962, the building has retained some key historic elements of William’s original design. They include the original pipe column balustrade at the roof and portions of the original handrails.
Metro’s senior environmental team has consulted with California’s State Historic Preservation Office and other agencies on efforts to avoid and minimize adverse effects to the Linde Medical Center’s historic features. Although decisions regarding the Purple (D Line) Extension’s Westwood/UCLA station’s final design are pending, project plans include retaining at least some of the Linde Medical Center’s original character-defining features. The features that could be retained are the structure’s overall box-like form, the canted balustrade and the black granite base.
Interesting fact: William’s original design for the Linde Medical Center does not include windows on the west side of building, so there aren’t any. The L.A. Conservancy notes that Williams original design for the Linde Medical Center intentionally did not include windows on the west side of the building because Williams believed visitors to the medical center wouldn’t want to see the neighboring national cemetery.
William’s legacy is strong — especially in our region, where he mostly practiced. In 1957 Williams was inducted as the AIA’s first Black fellow, and he was posthumously awarded AIA’s 2017 Gold Medal. The AIA’s Gold Medal recognizes individuals whose work has had a lasting influence on the theory and practice of architecture. Williams retired from practice in 1973 and died in 1980 at the age of 85. Metro is very proud to share Williams’ legacy and to help preserve his contributions to local architecture.