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The Man Who Helped Shape Postwar L.A.'s Architectural Landscape: Richard Dorman

Written by Kelly Weimert on Wednesday, November 27th, 2019 at 10:05am.

Source: laconservancy.org

Born in 1922, Richard Dorman was raised in Los Angeles and helped shape the architectural landscape of the city. Before he was an architect, Dorman fought in World War II as a pilot, flying 35 missions over the Pacific. After the war, Dorman used funds from the GI Bill to attend architecture school at the University of Southern California. 

Upon graduating from USC, Dorman was invited to work for Welton Becket and Associates where he was the assistant chief designer for five years before leaving to start his own architectural firm in 1956. Initially, the architect primarily designed industrial buildings, but he ultimately moved on to the commercial and residential designs for which he became most popular. 

Dorman was best-known for using post-and-beam construction to design his mid-century homes, many of which were designed for elite clientele, like Beverly Garland’s Hollywood Hills residence. He also joined other all-star architects like A. Quincy Jones, Frank Lloyd Wright, and Cliff May in designing a number of Trousdale Estates in Beverly Hills. Like many of his mid-century peers, Dorman sought to unify the interior of his homes with the exterior and surrounding landscape, creating a harmonious indoor-outdoor experience

Dorman won many awards for his commercial and residential designs, including AIA Awards of Merit for the Ivory Tower restaurant in 1960 and the Lakenan residence in 1958. He was also given AIA Honor Awards for his designs of the Malibu United Methodist Church, Beber restaurant, and Siedenbaum restaurant. Additionally, Dorman was featured on the cover of a special 1962 issue of Life magazine, where he was one of 100 Americans profiled as “The Take-Over Generation”. 

Dorman passed away in 2010, but his designs live on. Check out a few of his most prominent works below. 


Richard Dorman Nichols Canyon Home
Source: la.curbed.com

This Nichols Canyon home is a beautiful example of Dorman’s use of post-and-beam construction to create airy homes that blend with the surrounding landscape. 


Richard Dorman Post and Beam Sherman Oaks Estates Home
Source: takesunset.com

Equally unassuming and elegant, both signatures of the architect, Dorman designed this post-and-beam home in 1959 for the Sherman Oaks Estates. 


Post and Beam Richard Dorman Architectural Home
Source: laconservancy.org

Dorman used thin wood slats on this home’s entire exterior to complement the light and breezy feel of its post-and-beam design. 


Richard Dorman Sepulveda Rose Apartment Complex
Source: laconservancy.org

This 1959 apartment complex, now known as Sepulveda Rose, exemplifies how Dorman was able to apply post-and-beam construction to multi-family residences.


Richard Dorman LA International Design Center
Source: skyscraperpage.com

Dorman designed the Los Angeles International Design Center in 1964, which features two levels—the top level is raised above the lower level using double-height pilotis that give it the appearance of hovering in space. 


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Original image source: findagrave.com


If you love Richard Dorman's modernist architectural style, check out all Mid-Century Modern homes for sale near you, or download our Search With Style® app to search all homes by your favorite architectural style.

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