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#FactsFactsFriday: How Science Fiction Influenced Pereira’s Design of Irvine

Written by Cindy Marie Jenkins on Monday, November 30th, -0001 at 12:00am.

Here at Nook, we don’t just love selling houses, we also adore architecture. Working on great properties in Irvine reminds us just how iconic William Pereira, Irvine’s Master Planner, was. His architecture is rooted in his love of science fiction (Architect Magazine referring to it as an “it-landed-from-Mars approach”) and has an inherently futuristic but modern feel: stark, expressive, bold in its restraint, looking to the future.

Many feel that Pereira has never been given his due in architecture history, particularly his contributions to the Los Angeles landscape, many of which are now slated for redesigns. He was much lauded in his time, as one of only fifteen architects to grace the cover of Time magazine, for instance. Pereira’s cover was called “Vistas for the Future,” celebrating the innovation that transformed Irvine Ranch for both university and master planned city living.

Pereira is also widely known for such landmark designs as LACMA, the Theme Building at LAX, the LA Times expansion, the Metropolitan Water District headquarters, the Transamerica Pyramid in San Francisco, Fox Plaza, the Disneyland Hotel and 611 Place, to name a few. In spite of a clear architectural legacy, Pereira’s only retrospective was in 2013 at the Nevada Museum of Art in Reno.

Here are just some fun facts about him that make a lot of sense when you consider his body of work.

  1. He was heavily influenced by science fiction. Science fiction had a lasting impact on society in the twentieth century, architecture being one of the more noticeable areas. I mean, buildings that look like the Death Star from Star Wars exist in this world. Pereira’s design of UCI feel so futuristic that Conquest of The Planet of the Apes even filmed there.

  2. He contributed to the master plan of the 1933 World’s Fair. Thanks in large part to world events at the time, the focus on creating a better world moved from people to technology and innovation. Thus “A Century of Progress” became their theme, and Pereira’s Modernist views fit right into the overall planning of such an event.

  3. He was chauffeured around town in a Bentley,  I found this tidbit here, thanks to a tour of the UCI campus by historian and architect Alan Hess. This is one reason why he was often considered to represent Hollywood’s idea of an architect. That’s not surprising, since:

  4. In 1943, he won an Academy Award for Special Effects for Cecil B. DeMille’s film “Reap the Wild Wind”. Pereira and the Special Effects team used model ships, technicolor, backdrops and hurricane effects to create the inciting incident for the film about an independent woman (Paulette Goddard) running a merchant salvage business. The opening storm feels very stylized by today’s standards, but for 1942, was excellent work. And there’s the little matter of the giant squid…..

  5. He taught Frank Gehry at USC. Pereira also brought his former student on to the LACMA design team. Their relationship, at least professionally, may not have always been friendly, however. In Building Art: The Life and Work of Frank Gehry, Paul Goldberger states that Gehry thought his professor and sometimes lead architect as one who “mainly invented shapes out of his imagination and then tried to persuade his clients to accept them.” That sounds a lot more like Gehry, but maybe it’s just me.

Sometimes an architect’s backstory and evolution as an artist is more interesting than their actual works. In Pereira’s case, we’re definitely on the side of his modern futuristic styles, but it cannot be denied that he led an intriguing life.

If you want to be one of the first to know when an Irvine nook is available, contact Nook Realtor Todd Bousman at 949-533-8633 or todd@bouhaus.com. You can also #SearchWithStyle here or on our iPhone or Android app.



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