Top Design – Will the real Top Designer please stand up?

Well, we missed quite an opportunity last night on Top Design. The homeowner, Mr. Bell, mentioned in passing that their house was designed by Paul Williams.

Paul Revere Williams (1894-1980) was one of the foremost architects of southern California, producing an almost incredible number of buildings over a career which spanned almost sixty years. During that exceedingly productive career Williams designed over 2000 private residences and many major buildings both in southern California and elsewhere.

Among the Los Angeles buildings and projects designed (completely or in part) by Williams are the Shrine Auditorium, Los Angeles International Airport, Hollywood YMCA, Sunset Plaza Apartments, and the Los Angeles County Court House. Among the buildings outside the city designed by Williams are: the United Nations Building in Paris, the MCA Building in Beverly Hills, and Saks Fifth Avenue in Beverly Hills. (courtesy ofUSC).

Click here for more biographical information.

Here are some images of Mr. Williams work which span residential and commercial projects in traditional and modern forms.

Rene Faron Residence, Paul R. Williams, Architect 1935

Paul Revere Williams, “architect to the stars,” designed the former church in 1939. Reno/Tahoe

La Concha Hotel, Las Vegas (courtesy of
“A Los Angeles prep school sold the Morris Landau House [desiged by Paul Williams]for $1, and its new owners will move it to nearby Pasadena in six months.” (Ann-Marie Villicana) Courtesy of Preservation Online.

Saks Fifth Avenue, Beverly Hills, 1939 “Since they wanted this store to express the warmth of a fine home, they decided to use a residential architect,” Williams wrote in his journal.
Photo Courtesy of Karen Hudson
Paley Residence, bel air, 1934 Williams homes still attract the rich and famous. Barron Hilton owns this one.

Aaron Lilien Residence, holmby hills, 1946 Slender columns and simplified balconies characterize this modern colonial from Williams’ postwar period.
Photo Courtesy of Karen Hudson
Perino’s Restaurant, Los Angeles, 1949 “The Place” with the signature sheet-metal awning.

This Paul Williams house was used for the exterior shots of the 1980’s series “The Colbys”

LAX theme building, 1960s Williams designed this futuristic landmark with architects Pereira & Luckman.

I’ve heard of Mr. Williams before, but never took the time to look at some of his work. So, I’m grateful to TD for re-introducing us to an American Master.


xoxo Linda

4 thoughts on “Top Design – Will the real Top Designer please stand up?”

  1. Great catch! I heard him say the name but completely forgot about it. Yeah, very important Los Angeles architect. I think he also designed the coffee shop in the Ambassador hotel where Kennedy was shot. The hotel was just demolished last year but they were supposed to save the coffee shop; I haven’t heard an update on that.

  2. Very interesting. The picture of Saks 5th Avenue store reminded me of Bullock’s on Lake Avenue in Pasadena. Anyone know who designed that store? Or maybe I’m thinking of I. Magnin . . . . sorry it’s been about 40 years since seeing them, and I don’t know who the current tenants of these buildings are.

  3. Thanks for this post! OMG That LAX design is a classic! One of the real icons of LA. So Jetsons .

    It is too bad they couldn’t have taken 30 seconds of air time to give us this information.

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