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Evolution of a Metropolitan Skyline 

A.C. Martin 

Interviewed by Marlene L. Laskey 

Completed under the auspices 

of the 

Oral History Program 

University of California 

Los Angeles 

Copyright '^ 1985 
The Regents of the University of California 

This manuscript is hereby made available for research 
purposes only. All literary rights in the manuscript, 
including the right to publication, are reserved to the 
University Library of the University of California, 
Los Angeles. No part of the manuscript may be quoted 
for publication without the written permission of the 
University Librarian of the University of California, 
Los Angeles. 

Partial funding for this interview was provided by 
Atlantic Richfield Company, Security Pacific National Bank, 
Mitsui Fudosan (USA), Incorporated, Southern California 
Gas Company, and May Company. 


Introduction ix 

Interview History xv 

TAPE NUMBER: I, Side One (December 8, 1980) 1 

Martin's ancestry on his mother's side--The 
Borchard family ranch in Ventura County--His 
parents' marr iage--His mother's brothers and 
sister--His parents' first meeting. 

TAPE NUMBER: I, Side Two (December 17, 1980) 17 

Martin's uncle, Father Joseph Martin, arrives 
in Los Angeles from Illinois — The beaux arts 
style of architecture — The introduction of 
steel and reinforced concrete into building 
construction--The use of concrete in the 
buildings of Martin's father, Albert C. Martin, 
Sr.--His father's parents and siblings--His 
father's architectural achievements — Los 
Angeles in the early 1900s--Martin ' s own 
brothers and sisters. 

TAPE NUMBER: II, Side One (December 17, 1980) ..... .36 

A large and convivial f amily--Modern concepts 
of cultivation in Oxnard — Martin's father has 
problems with epilepsy and drinking--Ef f ect on 
the family. 

TAPE NUMBER: III, Side One (January 7, 1981) ...... 43 

Albert Martin, Sr., purchases a ranch in 
Riverside — Albert Martin, Jr., and Ed Martin 
develop the ranch into a citrus orchard--Plans 
to develop the ranch into a series of small 
ranchos — Problems with Sunkist Growers, Inc. — 
Building the water company — Problems involved 
in developing residential tracts--Energy 
conservation and ecological concerns--History 
of the Riverside area--Furnace Creek Inn in 
Death Valley. 


TAPE NUMBER: III, Side Two (February 4, 19B1) 62 

Albert C. Martin, Sr., builds Los Angeles City 
Hall--St. Vincent's Church--An organic 
philosophy of design in the works of Albert 
Martin, Sr. — The Albert C. Martin firm in 1920 — 
The Desmond's Bui lding--The problem of giving 
credit to individual architects in a large 

TAPE NUMBER: IV, Side One (February 4, 1981) 82 

Albert Martin, Sr., and the May Company--The 
Martin family's difficulties during the 
Depression--The children's educat ion--Inf luence 
of Albert Martin, Sr., on his son's decision to 
become an architect--Martin ' s jobs on 
construction sites as a youth. 

[Second Part] (March 3, 1981) ... 88 

Martin enters USC--Learns the new concepts of 
the Bauhaus school of architecture — Impact of 
the Depression and World War II on Los Angeles 
and on the architectural prof ession--Dif f icult 
times for A. C. Martin and Associates--The firm 
gets back on its feet during the war years-- 
Martin remembers his father as a man of honesty 
and integr ity--E . L. Cord's exploitation of 
construction workers during the Depression. 

TAPE NUMBER: IV, Side Two (March 3, 1981) 102 

The effect of the 1933 Long Beach earthquake on 
architecture--Older architectural concern with 
detailing of buildings vs. newer concerns for 
environment and planning--Architectural 
developments in this century and prospects for 
the f uture--Var ious buildings designed by A. C. 
Martin and Associates--The Department of Water 
and Power Bui lding--Mart in ' s trip to Europe and 
subsequent marriage to Dorothy Dolde . 

[Second Part] (March 18, 1981) . .112 

A. C. Martin and Associates' employment of 
engineers--Mart in ' s admiration of Frank Lloyd 
Wright and Willem Dudok--Pref erence for an 
architecture which is richer than Rauhaus — The 
classic design of the Second Church of Christ 
Scient ist--The May Company Wilshire building. 


TAPE NUMBER: V, Side One (March 18, 1981) 122 

%he award-winning parking structure designed 
for the May Company Wilshire store — Martin and 
his brother John Edward become partners with 
their f ather--Shopping centers designed by A. 
C. Martin and Associates--Reasons for the 
development of the suburban shopping center-- 
Superiority of the closed mall over the open 
mall--Building of the two-level Eastland ^ 
Shopping Center--Mart in ' s decision to focus on' 
commercial architecture rather than residences- 
A love for sailing. \iJ 

TAPE NUMBER: V, Side Two (April 8, 1981) 140 

iThe decision to have Los Angeles Civic Center 
fun in an east-west direct ion--The influence of 
this decision on the expansion of Los Angeles — 
A. C. Martin and Associates' innovations with 
computer analysis of earthquake movements-- 
Decision to make the ARCO building into two 
towers--Oecision to put the ARCO Towers' plaza 
at the Flower Street level rather than Figueroa 
Street--Future plans for downtown Los Angeles. 

TAPE NUMBER: VI, Side One (April 22, 1981) 159 

Th'e controversy over preservation of the old 
Los Angeles Central Library building — Martin's 
plans for the library building and alteration 
of the surrounding area to create a large open 
space--The North Civic Center plan--Ideas on 
what could be done to improve the transpor- 
tation systems of Los Angeles. 

TAPE NUMBER: VI, Side Two (May 5, 1981) 181 

The El Pueblo area--AGvantages of Martin's plan 
for preserving the Los Angeles Central Library 
building--Further solutions to transportation 
problems in Los Angeles--Costs of public 
transportation systems should be shared by the 
entire city--The private sector's role in urban 
development--Trend in the downtown area toward a 
more human-scaled environment. 


TAPE NUMBER: VII, Side One (May 5, 1981) 203 

Optimization of space in buildings--Energy- 
saving measures--Trend toward lightweight 
metallic walls in bui lding--Importance of open 
space in the urban landscape--The fragility of 
the life-sustaining atmosphere of planet Earth-- 
New technological developments in space. 

[Second Part] (May 27, 1981) . . . 213 

Martin's position as chairman of the Los 
Angeles Bicentennial Commi ttee--The composition 
of the commi ttee--Financing Bicentennial 
act ivit ies . 

TAPE NUMBER: VII, Side Two (May 27, 1981) . . .223 

Bicentennial publicity in Los Angeles--Archives 
recording Bicentennial events--Fundrais ing for 
the Bicentennial--Bicentennial publicat ions-- 
The Bicentennial history committee and the 
"Spectrum" exhibi€r--Problems of government 
bureaucracy and the necessity for the private 
sector to provide initiative and leadership-- 
Martin and his brother Ed's involvement in 
community affairs and city planning. 

TAPE NUMBER: VIII, Side One (June 2, 1981) ...... 246 

Thirty thousand trees planted in downtown Los 
Angeles under the sponsorship of Los Angeles 
Beaut if ul--Martin ' s scheduled reception of the 
Spirit of Los Angeles Award — The development of 
large open spaces in the Los Angeles landscape-- 
The problem of clients altering a building so 
that it no longer expresses the architect's 
intent ions--Mart in ' s plan for St. Basil's 
Church marred by two large statues--Martin ' s 
involvement with the .\merican Institute of 
Architects (AIA) and the California Council of 
Architects--Architects in Los Angeles in the 
city's early days--The transition from beaux 
arts to modern architecture--The influence of 
Frank Lloyd Wright on Martin--Martin ' s role in 
A. C. Martin and Associates--The role of the 
director of design in the f irm--Inf luence of 
Frank Lloyd Wright, Samuel Marx, and Noel Flint 
on Martin. 

VI 1 

TAPE NTUMBER: VIII, .Side Two (June 2, 1981) 268 

Past trends in architecture toward eclectic 
borrowing from various styles--The present 
trend toward humanism in architecture--Meed for 
architects to understand the nature of 
mater ials--Importance of organic structure in 
creating a unified building--Herbert BaYer--The 
Double Ascension fountain in the ARCO Plaza-- 
Alexander Calder's sculpture The Four Arches in 
A. C. Martin and Associates' Security Pacific 

Bank Building 

[Second Part] (June 9, 1981) . . . 279 

The process of obtaining commissions--The Wells 
Fargo Building--Working with contractors-- 
Collaborating with other architectural and 
engineering firms. -.-- 

TAPE NUMBER: IX, Side One (June 9, 1981) ....... .290 

Successful collaborations--The architect/client 
relat ionship--A,. C. Martin and Associates' New 
York, Texas, and Orange County offices — ^David 
and Christopher Martin join the partnership-- 
Reaction of the firm's staf f--Responsibi lit ies 
of the individual members of the partnership 
and the changes that will follow Martin's 
retirement--The firm's financial situation and 
the risks involved in practicing architecture-- 
A. C. Martin and Associates the oldest firm in 
Los Angeles--The future development of Los 
Angeles — The increasing integration of ethnic 
groups in Los Angeles--Changes in Los Angeles 
over the years--The use of open space in 
California architecture--The need to renovate 
Wilshire Boulevard. 

Index o 312 

VI 1 1 


Albert Carey Martin, Jr., (born Los Angeles, August 3, 
1913) is a partner in A. C. Martin and Associates, one of 
the most influential architectural firms in Southern 
California. The A. C. Martin firm was founded in 1906 by 
Martin's father, A. C. Martin, Sr., an architectural 
engineer from Illinois who came to California in 1904. The 
senior Martin invented and patented a technique in steel- 
reinforced concrete construction which was particularly 
useful in the construction of offices and commercial 
structures. His most famous work is Los Angeles City Hall 
(1927), designed in collaboration with John C. Austin and 
John Parkinson. Other well-known buildings by A. C. 
Martin, Sr., are the Ventura County Courthouse (1911), the 
Million Dollar Theatre, on Broadway Street in dov/ntown Los 
Angeles, in which he employed the world's first canti- 
levered reinforced concrete balcony (1917), St. Vincent de 
Paul's Church on Figueroa Street and Adams Boulevard 
(1924), and the Atlantic Richfield Mariposa Building at 
Wilshire Boulevard and Mariposa Avenue (1931). The senior 
Martin had a close relationship with the May Company and 
designed many of their stores. The May Company downtown 



(1924) and Wilshire (1937) stores are considered classics 
in the department store genre. Martin also designed the 
dome for the Church of Christ Scientist at Adams and Hoover 
boulevards (1917). 

A. C. Martin, Jr., the subject of the following oral 
history interview, studied architecture at the University 
of Southern California while working summers as a 
carpenter's helper on projects his father designed. He 
graduated with a B.A. in 1936 and went to work in his 
father's design department. Martin senior operated an 
individual practice until 1945 when he invited his two 
sons, A. C. Martin, Jr., and John Edward Martin, to become 
partners. When A. C. Martin, Jr., became a full partner, 
he assumed the title, director of design. 

In the post-World War II years, Martin and Associates 
expanded rapidly. The Los Angeles Times credits the firm 
with the design of "more than fifty percent of all the 
major buildings erected in downtown Los Angeles since World 
War II." (November 25, 1979) Among the most prominent of 
Martin-designed buildings downtown are the Southern 
Counties Gas Company Building at Eighth and Flower streets 
(1958); the Department of VJater and Power Building at First 
and Hope streets, the world's first integrated modular 
office building (1965); the United States Federal Office 
Building at 300 North Los Angeles Street (1965); Wilshire 

Metropolitan Medical Center at Wilshire Boulevard and Bixel 
Street (1965); Union Bank Square on Flower between Third 
and Fourth streets (1967); the Atlantic Richfield Towers on 
the block bounded by Figueroa, Fifth, Flower, and Sixth 
streets (1973); the Security Pacific World Headquarters at 
Flower and Third streets (1978); the Wells Fargo Building 
at Flower and Fifth streets (1980); and the Manufacturers' 
Life Insurance Building at Fifth and Figueroa (1980). 

A. C. Martin and Associates has designed commercial 
structures throughout the Los Angeles metropolitan area. 
The firm was a pioneer in shopping malls, beginning with 
the Lakewood Shopping Center in Long Beach (19 51), the 
Eastland Shopping Center in VJest Covina (1956), and V7arner 
Ranch in Woodland Hills (1960). It designed the 1900 
Building (1969) and the Century City Theme Buildings (1975, 
in collaboration with Minoru Yamasaki) in Century City. 
Other notable projects in the Los Angeles metropolitan 
region include the Bethlehem Steel Building in Torrance 
(1958), Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena (1965), TRW 
Space Park in El Segundo and Redondo Beach (1966), the 
Sears Building in Alharabra (1970), the Sunkist Building in 
Sherman Oaks (1973), Cedars-Sinai Medical Center (1975), 
One Town Center in Costa Mesa (1979), the Prudential 
Insurance Headquarters building in Thousand Oaks (1984), 
and the Thousand Oaks Public Library (1984). Martin and 


Associates has continued constructing churches, and A. C. 
Martin, Jr., is particularly proud of his design for St. 
Basil's Church on VJilshire Boulevard near Western Avenue 
(1969), which David Gebhard and Robert Winter describe as a 
"forest of narrow concrete volumes [creating] an illusion 
of a Medieval northern Italian town, perhaps with Sir Basil 
Spence ' s Coventry Cathedral in mind." (David Gebhard and 
Robert 'Winter, A Guide to Architecture in Los Angeles & 
Southern California , Santa Barbara: Peregrine Smith, 1977, 
p. 194; this work contains descriptions and analysis of 
many of the buildings designed by Martin and Associates.) 

As of 1984, A. C. Martin and Associates had a staff of 
over three hundred forty architects, engineers, and support 
personnel in four offices located in Los Angeles, Irvine, 
Houston, and New York City. Martin and Associates remains 
a f amily-owned-and-operated enterprise. The third 
generation of Martins, A. C. Martin, Jr.'s son David 
(currently director of design) and John Edward Martin's son 
Christopher, have become full partners. Martin comments 
that his role in such a large organization has been more 
"to provide an analysis and critique of the design of 
others ... I probably have a deeper feeling for making 
judgements and appraisals and guidance of the work of 
others than actually the development of my own." (pp. 263- 
64) He elaborates that after stepping down as the firm's 


director of design in 1974, his role has primarily been 
"making judgements as to problem solving in human 
relationships and client relationships and to generally 
watch the movement of the firm as it handles its ever- 
moving problems." (p. 263) 

A. C. Martin and Associates has been a pioneer in the 
use of computers to analyze earthquake movements and the 
dynamic loads earthquakes impose on structures. In the 
Union Bank Square Building, the firm introduced ventilated 
vestibule systems into high-rise construction, which 
permitted a dramatic increase in usable floor space in 
office buildings. In the Wells Fargo Building, Martin and 
Associates implemented new energy-saving designs through 
the use of stainless steel panels and double-glazed 
windows . 

Martin has served as director (1950) and president 
(1958) of the Southern California chapter of the American 
Institute of Architects (AIA). He chaired the committee 
that rewrote the parking ordinances of the city of Los 
Angeles. In 1969 he was director of Los Angeles Beautiful, 
which implemented a tree-planting program. In 1976 he was 
elected president of the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce. 
Martin has been active in the city's historic preservation 
movement and has proposed plans to revitalize the El Pueblo 
district north of Civic Center as well as the Los Angeles 

XI 1 1 

Central Library building. In 1978, Mayor Tom Bradley 
appointed Martin chairman of the Los Angeles Bicentennial 
Committee. During the city's bicentennial celebrations, he 
successfully located corporate underwriting for events 
which traditionally would be supported by public monies. 
Martin's many civic activities reflect his oft-stated 
opinion that the respective roles of the private and public 
sectors need to be realigned. He views the private sector 
in the United States as the most vital force upholding the 
interests of democracy against government bureaucracy. 

The following oral history interview with A. C. 
Martin, Jr., is more than a life history of one prominent 
professional: it is the history of a Los Angeles firm and 
of the ideas which have reshaped the face of a major 
American city. In 1963, Los Angeles architect Albert Carey 
Martin, Jr., predicted that "the architect of tomorrow will 
be the master planner of total environments." Martin has 
fulfilled his own prophecy with the many projects his firm 
has done since then. 




Marlene L. Laskey, Interviewer, UCLA Oral History 
Program. B.A., Political Science; has researched, 
organized, and conducted architectural tours of Los 
Angeles . 


Place : Martin's office in the Union Bank Building, Los 
Angeles, California. 

Dates : December 8, 17, 1980; January 7, February 4, March 
3, 18, April 8, 22, May 5, 27, June 2, 9, 1981. 

Time of day, length of sessions, and total number of 
recording hours : Interview sessions were conducted at 
various times of day and were generally forty to forty- 
five minutes in length. A total of approximately ten and 
a half hours of conversation was recorded. 

Persons present during the interview ; Martin and Laskey. 


The interview begins with a chronological format, covering 
Martin's family background and the architectural 
accomplishments of his father. After Tape V, however, the 
interview format becomes topical. 


Editing of the tapes was done by Bernard Galm. The 
verbatim transcript was checked against the original tape 
recordings and edited for punctuation, paragraphing, 
spelling, and verification of proper nouns. Words and 
phrases inserted by the editor have been bracketed. The 
final manuscript remains in the same order as the taped 
material . 

In July 1983 the edited transcript, along with a list of 
queries and names requiring identification, was given to 
Martin. The approved transcript was returned in December 
of the same year. 

The index was compiled by Cheri Derby, assistant editor, 
and Teresa Barnett, editorial assistant, who also prepared 


the table of contents and interview history. The 
introduction was written by Richard Candida Smith, 
principal editor. 


The original tapes and edited transcript of the interview 
are in the university archives and are available under the 
regulations governing the use of permanent, noncurrent 
records of the university. Interview records and research 
materials are on file in the office of the Oral History 


DECEMBER 8, 19 80 

LASKEY: Mr. Martin, you're one of the rare breed of people 
known as a native Californian, native to the area, with 
roots that go back well over a hundred years. So I thought 
perhaps we could start the interview with a discussion 
of those roots, perhaps beginning with your mother and your 
remembrances of her and [then] moving into the family. 
MARTIN: Yes, my remembrance of the Borchard history includes 
stories of the trek across the plains in 1847 by my grand- 
father's father, but including my grandfather as a two- 
year-old child; and stories of Indian attacks were always 
mentioned, and whether there were very many wagons lost is 
a question. I remember something about some losses. The 
Borchard family came in through one of the northern passes, 
and down through the Stockton area, and eventually settled 
in the Ventura County area, on the south bank of the Santa 
Clara River, which is now part of Oxnard. 
LASKEY: This was when, when they actually came into 
Ventura County? 
MARTIN: Around 1866. 
LASKEY: Around 1866. 

MARTIN: There were stories of the height of the mustard 
plants and the existence of many snakes, and the trails 
which wove through the mustard fields would be flanked by 

mustard which was as high as the shoulders of a man on 
horseback. The commercial center, that is the four 
corners with a store on it, occurred at a place called 
El Rio, which has now disappeared as a four-center inter- 
section, and of course the old general store went with 
it. The man that owned the general store was Simon Cohn, 
a Jewish merchant who was one of the early breeds of 
merchants that also settled in this area. 

Stories of my mother include her beauty, and some of 
them described her as the belle of the county. 
LASKEY: What was your mother's name? 

MARTIN: Carolyn Elizabeth. One of the stories of her 
vivaciousness is the fact that she was selected as the 
young girl to help drive the golden spike which completed 
the railroad trackage across a new bridge spanning the 
Santa Clara River flood area. So Carolyn, my mother, grew 
up as a young, vivacious farm girl and sought her education 
after high school at St. Mary's College, which was part 
of the Sisters of [St. Joseph of] Carondelet, who now operate 
the Daniel Freeman [Memiorial] Hospital. 

LASKEY: And Mount St. Mary's College too, don't they? 
MARTIN: Oh, yes, they have Mount St. Mary's also. But 
St. Mary's College was out on--I'm not sure whether it was 
Slauson [Avenue]. I suppose it's gone now. 
LASKEY: So she had her education in Los Angeles. 

MARTIN: She had her education, part of it — well, the 
college education in Los Angeles. I don't know about her 
high school education. Probably locally in the Oxnard area. 
LASKEY: So your great-grandfather, when he came down into 
Ventura, now there was nothing but mustard fields, is that 
what he reclaimed into--? 

MARTIN: Yes, the south bank of the basin of the Santa Clara 
River was very rich, I guess somewhat rough in character. 
And those farms along that edge of the basin, which were 
alluvial in nature, became outstanding farming ground, 
eventually. Principally for the raising of lima beans, 
which was the basic crop in the area, and a great deal of 
sugar beets, which were promoted by the American Sugar 
Beet Company, which had a major refinery in Oxnard. 
LASKEY: But this must have happened some time after your 
family had settled there. 
MARTIN: Oh, yes. 

LASKEY: Do you have any idea about how your great-grand- 
father went about reclaiming the land? It had been part 
of a rancho, is that right? 

MARTIN: I believe it was part of Rancho Colonia, but I 
know nothing of Rancho Colonia. There's a Colonia school 
district that did exist, and may still exist, in that area. 
It was a one-room schoolhouse, which I remember very well. 
LASKEY: So your grandfather, then, proceeded to grow up 

in this area and expanded on what your great-grandfather 

had done. 

MARTIN: That's right; he had his entire growing career in 

this area, because he came across the plains as an infant, 

and his father took quite a few years to drift down to 

Southern California and the Ventura County area. So that 

meant that my grandfather, John Edward Borchard, did grow 

with the land and did help develop the land as a pioneer. 

LASKEY: Do you remember your grandfather at all? 

MARTIN: Very well, very well. 

LASKEY: What was he like? 

MARTIN: He was tall and rangy, 6 '4" in height, a 

quiet man, German background, a very kind man with a large 

family, and [who] I v/ould say was extremely proud of the 

evolution of his holdings into one of the major ranches of 

the area. I believe he had some thousand acres at the time 

of his death, that were passed on to his heirs, nine 

children. So I remember him as being quiet and perhaps a 

little gruff, but kind, probably bothered with the some 

twenty-five grandchildren, who assembled often for the 

holidays out on this wonderful ranch. 

LASKEY: What was the ranch like? 

MARTIN: The ranch was first of all dominated by a very 

beautiful Victorian home, which was painted in the same colors 

as the railroad stations were: a tan and ocher color. It 

was elaborate with its ornate finials and decor and corbels, 
just as so many colonial houses were. The house was sur- 
rounded by a picket fence, which was typical of the times, 
a kind of olive-shaped cap to it. The house had an addition 
to it, which was a cool house that was built on the grade 
or a little bit below the grade so that the soil dampness 
would keep the cool house fresh, would keep the food and 
the butter and so forth fresh, because they made their 
own butter (which I remember very clearly) . Also, outside 
of the house and to the side of the typical Victorian 
garden, a beautiful mixture, conglomerate mixture of precious 
flowers, outside of that was the typical washbasin, which 
was really a trough with many faucets, and all [ranch] hands 
that came in for food would of course do their washing away 
from the house and then would come in to eat. 

The farm--or the ranch, as it was called — as I knew 
it, had some very inventive mechanized features, including 
a very, very large diesel v;ater pump, because in those days 
they were starting to pump water from perhaps a hundred feet, 
which of course now is about six hundred feet. 

The plan of the ranch included a forecourt that was 
about a hundred and fifty feet in diameter, and in that, 
and surrounding that, were a series of buildings. There was 
a blacksmith's shop. There was a carpenter and toolshop 
adjacent to it. Next to that was another isolated building, 

which was a grain building for seed and for feed for the 
animals. Then next to that there was a buggy barn, and 
at that time there was a whole series of buggies of various 
kinds, two-wheelers and four-wheelers and wagons and so forth. 
Next to that was some kind of a small, I'd say, foreman's 
house, and then continuing around this circle was the pumping 
plant and the base of a water tower for storage. As it 
came on around farther, there were areas dedicated to crops 
for the household use, until it made a complete circle back 
to the original homeplace. Back of all of this, in a 
secondary row, were a series of houses for families which 
worked on the farm, like three or four additional families. 
And to one side there were three barns, which were large, 
with their adjacent corrals, and one pigpen, with its 
outside area. So the cluster of buildings in the home- 
place was a fascinating cluster. Interspersed with orchards, 
oranges and apples and all fruits, and perhaps dominated 
by two very tall pines, which were most unusual and were 
brought over from Australia, I believe. I have seen the 
same pine around the country and in Hawaii, but that was 
one of the things that in the very early days came to these 
settlers. The homeplace was a very fascinating kind of a 

LASKEY: It sounds like a self-contained unit, with a separate 
life of its own. 

MARTIN: It was; it was a self-contained center which had 
as part of its working complex all of the kinds of buildings 
and equipment necessary to be uniquely separate, including 
the blacksmith's shop, which was necessary for the shoeing 
of horses and particularly necessary for the development 
of plows and eventually the application of hardened 
edges for the plows. 

They also, in the days of sugar beet harvest, used to 
have huge wagons drawn by a span of maybe eight large 
work horses, and I remember they used to go to the field — 
As a child, when I was sleeping there, I would hear them 
go to the fields, maybe at four or five in the morning. As 
soon as it was light they would be heading out to the fields, 
A very colorful place, and unfortunately all of it is lost. 
LASKEY: What happened? Did it just develop as — ? 
MARTIN: None of the family acquired it to — Even though 
many members of the family lived there subsequent to the 
death of my grandfather — two or three members of the family 
lived there--none of them ever preserved it or decided to 
maintain it as a heritage home, or a farm, which would be 
a most unusual thing if it was preserved today. 
LASKEY: Oh, it would have been beautiful. 

MARTIN: My brother and I returned some fifteen years ago to 
try to find any part of the homeplace, such as a tree or 
a fence, and there was not one thing we could identify. 

LASKEY: What had happened? Was it still a ranch? 

MARTIN: It was all subdivided into — 

LASKEY: Oh, it was subdivided. 

MARTIN: — into residential districts, for nice residences. 

We could not find one semblance of that great ranch. That's 

very interesting. So I always have been sorry that we didn't 

buy it and preserve it, not as an investment but as a matter 

of pride and heritage. 

LASKEY: Well, it sounds-- 

MARTIN: Turn it into a museum. It would have been an ideal 

museum of a typical ranch homeplace of the age. 

LASKEY: Well, most of your uncles then became ranchers, 

didn't they? 


LASKEY: It's interesting that it wouldn't have been 

preserved just in the nature of things, since they were 

living in the area. 

MARTIN: Well, preservation was not as important to them 

as we find it in our thinking today. To them it was an 

old homeplace and better let it go into redevelopment. And 

true, they were all farmers. Some of them ended up with 

some related businesses, but most of them were farmers, 

farming the land that they inherited, plus that which they 

acquired. My mother inherited several pieces of land, which 

she had to sell to bail out "the office," which was my 

father's architectural office, which had such a difficult 
time in the Great Depression of the thirties. 
LASKEY: Well, I'm interested — You have nine aunts and 
uncles. All of your uncles became ranchers or farmers; 
there was one other daughter, besides your mother, who 
married in the area. But your mother married outside of 
the area, essentially, and an architect. Was there anything 
about her that was a bit of a renegade? 

MARTIN: I never visualized her as being motivated by things 
that were entirely different, such as a renegade might 

LASKEY: That's a strong term. 

MARTIN: Strong term. She, I believe, aspired to be some- 
thing more than a farm girl, as evidenced by the fact that 
her college education was in the city of Los Angeles. She 
also was a good pianist and she had a good voice, and she 
really enjoyed the vivacity of my father, who was a brilliant 
young architect-engineer, and a person who was most respected 
in the entire community of Los Angeles because of his drive 
and his honesty and his loyalty to his clients. [tape 
recorder turned off] 

My father and mother were really very close and were 
very much in love their entire life, and they were very 
proud of their family of six children. I was the oldest 
son, and I am certain that in their minds I was always to 

be an architect, but I didn't know that. I guess subliminally 
it all did happen. And, as you know, I have a son that is 
a fine architect. So it's a very deep kind of a natural 
understanding that exists in our family about the evolution 
of planning and the requirements of people in environments, 
because it is a strong background, this kind of thought 
process . 

But the Depression was hard on my mother and on my 
father . 

LASKEY: What did it do to the Borchard family? Did they 
suffer, the ranch particularly suffer from it? 
MARTIN: I believe that there were some hard times in the 
Depression, because land values were very low; I'm certain 
that the prices for crops were very competitive. There 
was an influx of farmers from the Middle West who came and 
became farmhands, because they were in worse condition due 
to the drought and the creation of the dust bowls of the 
Middle West, which are an important matter in history. 
The family was very prosperous during and following the 
First World War, when lima beans commanded a price of 
eleven cents a pound or twelve cents a pound, which is 
like twelve dollars a sack, and they were producing 
that crop for perhaps two dollars or three dollars a sack. 
So the Ventura County farmers were very prosperous following 
World War I and during the twenties. I'm sure the Depression 


of the thirties hit them just as it hit everybody else. 
LASKEY: But this particular period would be the period 
that you would have remembered the ranch. 
MARTIN: Yes, it was very prosperous. 

LASKEY: When you were out there, did you ever think in 
terms of becoming a rancher or a farmer, despite what your 
family may have had in mind for you? 
MARTIN: No, I never had thought like that at all. 
LASKEY: You didn't. 

MARTIN: No. I enjoyed it because I had four first cousins, 
young boys, that were real close to me; and I used to stay 
with them in the summertime, all during my youth. So 
there was a strong tie, and it lasted for many years, 
amongst the first cousins, the boys, in my particular age 
category. So I used to work there later on when I was in 
high school, for my bachelor uncle that lived on the home- 

LASKEY: Now, this is the one who stayed and helped your 
father manage the ranch? Was he one of the younger--? 
MARTIN: My grandfather. 
LASKEY: Your grandfather, I'm sorry. 

MARTIN: I worked for Will, the oldest uncle, but others 
lived on the ranch. There was Andrew Borchard, who stayed 
on the ranch during World War I, and Matt Borchard went 
into the service. And Matt Borchard, being the youngest, 


always felt entitled, as the German tradition would have it, 
to be the heir to the homeplace, that is, to continue the 
management of the farm. As it happened, Andrew played 
that role, and Matt never did get over it. Because he felt 
it was his: he went off to war and somebody else took 
his place. So that became a lifelong, unfortunate, negative 
factor amongst the two younger boys. 
LASKEY: What happened to Matt? 

MARTIN: Matt died last year, and to his deathbed — He was 
always a jolly fellow, a wonderful fellow. The pet of my 
mother, by the way; he was the baby when my mother was a 
young girl. And he used to stay at our house in Los Angeles 
when he was going to college, St. Vincent's College. But 
he never got over the fact that he was not the continuing 
young son, [as] a member of a German family. That was a 
German tradition that the youngest son would stay and help 
with the older years and farm the land. It's kind of an 
interesting point, really, because it was a negative point 
in the relationship of several members of the family. 
LASKEY: Well, who was it? Was it Andrew, then, who would 
make the final decision to let the homestead go, or was it 
the family? 

MARTIN: Well, no. Andrew built his home on the homeplace, 
right adjacent to the original house. And Ray, Raymond, 
lived in the homeplace for many years and did farm some of 


the land that was part of the original ranch. I believe 

Ray farmed land which belonged to the girls, you see, 

because the girls weren't there to do their own farming. 

And Matt farmed for the girls also; so two of the younger 

boys became the farmers that handled the estates of the 

girls of the family. 

LASKEY: Now, there was your mother, and then she had a 

sister. And I can only find her name listed as Mrs. John 

Lagomarsino, so what was her-- 

MARTIN: It's Ida. She's still alive. 

LASKEY: Is she really? Is she living up in — ? 

MARTIN: She lives in Ventura. Ida Lagomarsino. And she 

has a daughter in Los Angeles and a son-in-law, 

LASKEY: How about any of the other brothers or sisters? 

MARTIN: Now, well, Andrew is alive; I think he's the last 

survivor. Matt is dead, Ray, and Will, of course, was the 

oldest, then Frank, and then Henry, Ernest. So I think 

Andrew is still alive, but I'm not positive of that. 

LASKEY: Did two of your uncles, Frank and Henry, marry 


MARTIN: Yes, they did. 

LASKEY: The same year? 

MARTIN: I have a feeling they did. I think it might have 

been a double wedding, but I'm not sure. They were the 

McLaughlin girls, Katie and Nellie, and that created double 


cousins, and they are still around. I've seen them recently. 

They're a very nice family. 

LASKEY: Now were the McLaughlins, then, I take it, also 

a ranching family in the area? 

MARTIN: They were, yes. 

LASKEY: What about your grandmother? What do you remember 

about her? 

MARTIN: Oh. The thing I remember the most is her dynamic 

posture as a mother and a grandmother of a huge tribe and 

her slightness of build — she was very thin; she was about 

4 '11" tall. 

LASKEY: My goodness. 

MARTIN: And really loved every child that came onto the 

ranch. She was a very kind person. But she was busy. 

LASKEY: I bet she was. 

MARTIN: She was really busy. 

LASKEY: Was she a native of the area too? Do you have any 

idea how your grandfather met her? 

M-ARTIN: I don't know. The Kaufman family, I think, were 

related to the Hartmans of Ventura, but I better be careful 

because it gets pretty thin there. I don't remember. I'm 

sure that the Kaufmans were active in the Ventura area. 

There are streets in there that are named after the girls, 

still in the downtown area. I don't really know a lot about 

her family. There were cousins, and how they became cousins 


I don't know, but the Pettits were related. And there 
was Ayala, who was not a blood relation, but by marriage 
that part of the family was early and around Oxnard. Finally 
the children of John Edward Borchard and Mary Borchard 
married into the Daily family, and my sister is now 
married to one of them. He's passed on, but Mrs. Milton 
[F.] Daily is my sister; she's from Camarillo. So that's 
a whole other strain now, the Milton Daily strain. There 
was other Dailys who married into the Borchards on an 
entirely different relationship. Andrew's wife was a 

LASKEY: So out of this mix, your mother came down to 
Los Angeles. Was it down here when she was a student that 
she met your father? 

MARTIN: No. She met my father through a neighbor, who was 
Mr. Joe McGrath- And Joe went to college at St. Vincent's 
College, where all of these young men went. And my father's 
brother preceded him to Los Angeles from Illinois, who was. 
Father Joe Martin, a Catholic Vincentian priest. He 
encouraged my father to come here and be a part of Los 
Angeles. My father had been a graduate of the University 
of Illinois, had been working in the steel mills to learn 
about steel, in Pittsburgh, and then came out here without 
a job, except that they made him track coach of St. Vincent's 
College . 


LASKEY: Did he have a background for being a track coach? 
MARTIN: He happened to be a low hurdler at the University 
of Illinois. 

LASKEY: Now, what time are we talking about? 
MARTIN: [About] 19 04. So Joe McGrath knew young 
Father Joe Martin, and Joe Martin brought his younger 
brother, Al, to Oxnard on a visit to Joe McGrath 's, and 
that's where young Al Martin met Carrie Borchard. Through 
the McGrath family. I don't know very much about the 
romance except that I think it went through a long period 
of time, and my father was a "city feller." 
LASKEY: He was. 

MARTIN: He was a city feller, and he was thin, and they 
called him "Bird Legs." But he was a very charming man 
and the apple of my mother's eye, I presume. So in 190 7, 
December 190 7, they were married, and they produced a large 
family. [laughter] 


DECEMBER 17, 19 80 

LASKEY: All right, Mr. Martin, last time we were talking 
about the Borchard family, and I thought perhaps this 
time we could start talking about the Martin family. 
MARTIN: The Martin family is a family that I had less 
contact with than the Borchards . The Martin family first 
came to Los Angeles when my uncle Joe Martin, who was a 
Vincentian priest, came here, I believe in connection with 
St. Vincent's College, which I believe was the predecessor 
to Loyola [University], which of course is Jesuit. But 
I do know that so many of the early population, or the male 
segment of the families, did go to St. Vincent's College, 
and I don't know much about that except it was very, very 
much a part of the Catholic society. 

LASKEY: I also think St. Vincent's was the first college 
in Los Angeles, the first and the oldest college, as I 
recall . 

MARTIN: I think that that's right. I was reminded of 
that the other day, on some occasion, [something] that was 
sent to me by Loyola law school. 

In any case, Joe Martin, Father Joe, invited my father 
to come to Los Angeles. Now my father had been born, I 
believe, and reared in La Salle, Illinois, and was educated 
and graduated from the University of Illinois as an 


architect-engineer. And in the way of background, it 
might be well to remember that the University of Illinois, 
as a prominent learning center near Chicago, was greatly 
influenced by the World's Fair of 1893 in Chicago. History 
tells us that there were some great architectural achieve- 
ments in that fair and in the city of Chicago about that 
time, work by architect [Henry H.] Richardson and Louis 
Sullivan and later on Frank Lloyd Wright. That these 
architects were reaching away from the pseudoclassic schools, 
the beaux arts and the Rome school, which was being 
exemplified so strongly in New York. 

LASKEY: Could you identify beaux arts, that is, define it? 
MARTIN: Well, the beaux arts school of design was French 
and was the prominent school in the world in the teaching 
of architecture in all of its most sophisticated aspects 
of planning and refinement of the design as it is found in 
the Renaissance and the return of classic architectural 
motifs borrowed from Rome and Greece and even the introduc- 
tion of the Egyptian. All of these architectural styles 
were through the School of Beaux Arts, Ecole [des] Beaux- 
Arts, or something like that. All of these things were 
highly refined by masters of architecture in that period, 
in the nineteenth century, and it is that school of design 
that was prominent in the growth of New York and the great 
financial institutions, because you can think of the stock 

exchange and the bank being replicas of the Roman pavilions 

and the classic facades. But Chicago, being in the Wild 

West, broke away, and you see the works of Richardson and 

Sullivan and other architects that I'm not aware of: the 

real break against the revival of the classic. 

LASKEY: What was it that triggered the break, was there 

anything in particular? 

MARTIN: I believe that the real break and the desire for 

new expression was part of the introduction of the use of 

steel in architecture, as exemplified beautifully in some 

of the very light steel buildings of London, where the ^IfTAntSl 

beautiful — What were they called, where they had the 

glass — ? 

LASKEY: The Crystal Palace? 

MARTIN: The Crystal Palace. As exemplified by that, or 

the Eiffel Tower. You see, steel, a tensile material, a 

material that could work in tension, was being introduced 

to architecture, and that brought new dimensions in the 

construction of office buildings, where actually we had 

cast-iron fronts, in Chicago particularly, and cast-iron 

columns with ornamental cast column caps. Those movements 

were part of the transition. Not necessarily a revolution 

but a transition into new thinking, and as the buildings 

designed by Sullivan, which were really Romanesque in their 

feeling, more than the classics of Rome, those buildings 


started finally to evolve into a freedom in design. 

And at the time of the World's Fair in 1893, according 
to [Sigfried] Giedion, the western builders introduced 
something called the balloon frame, which was a system of 
construction not used in the West, but in the Midwest, 
wherein the sticks of wood, like the two-by-fours, extended 
from the foundation to the top of the building, instead 
of being cut off at the second floor, to eliminate shrinkage, 
And this was a new kind of a frame. Those frames were, 
again, an expression of the craftsmen of the Midwest, who 
set the pace for even the California cottages and the 
[Charles] Greene and [Henry] Greene houses of the West and 
[of] Los Angeles. All of this I speak of because that's 
part of the University of Illinois, 

Another part, and the most important part, quoting 
again from my brief knowledge of history, was the fact 
that there were professors at the University of Illinois 
who were working in the field of reinforced concrete design, 
which was advanced by great architects of France, who were 
doing bridges in reinforced concrete, and as I recall, 
[Robert] Maillart, an architect and engineer in France, 
was working in reinforced concrete design. This is the 
combination of the cementitious materials with the new steel 
tensile materials, and that's what reinforced concrete is. 
The steel takes the tension, and the concrete takes the 


the compression. That was being advanced, and one of 
Dad's professors was the man who wrote the book — and I'm 
sorry I can't remember his name — in concrete design. So 
my father came from a center of learning that was really 
on the front, the leading edge, of experimentation in new 
systems of construction, and that was reflected in my 
father's work. My father invented many systems of con- 
struction^ One of them is standing on the corner of 
Eighth and Hill [streets] , as part of the May Company 
downtown today . 

But to get back into history, my father graduated 
from the University of Illinois, was acclaimed by his 
professors as one of the most brilliant persons ever to 
graduate from the university. He went to Pittsburgh to 
work in the steel mills to refine his understanding of 
steel, which he did; he worked for Jones and Laughlin Steel 
Company. And in 1904 he was invited to come West by his 
brother, Father Joe Martin. He came West without a job. 
He happened to be a low hurdler on the University of 
Illinois 's track team, and he became the track coach at 
St. Vincent's College, after work. He also came West and 
became a laborer on a reinforced concrete gang, on the 
Pacific Electric Building at Sixth and Main [streets], 
which is still standing. 
LASKEY: That's a beautiful building. 


MARTIN: Yes. He worked a short time, I'm told, before he 
was made the foreman, because he understood concrete like 
no one else in the construction industry here. A reflec- 
tion of his higher education at the university. 
LASKEY : In 1904, reinforced concrete would have been very 

MARTIN: Very new, and just how it was applied in this 
building I don't know. Probably in some of the floors, 
because I think it's a brick building. He was discovered 
by Carl Leonhardt, who was one of the leading contractors 
in the city of Los Angeles, a name long forgotten, but you 
may note his name, sometimes engraved in some of the paving 
materials around Los Angeles. Carl Leonhardt introduced him 
to some of the Hellman family, who were bankers, and he later 
built one of the Hellman buildings, as an architect. 
LASKEY: There was Isaias and there was Herman Hellman, and 
they have banks almost across the street from each other. 
MARTIN: Right. And Dad did one of those, and I forget which 
one at this moment. The I. W. Hellman Building and the H. 
W. Hellman [Building], I think it was. In any case, he was 
invited to become an engineer by an architect by the name of 
[Alfred F.] Rosenheim, who was commissioned to design the 
Hamburger Building, which is today the May Company downtown. 
Dad worked with him, and as it happened, this Mr. Rosenheim 
got into some trouble in his business arrangements, and he 


was dismissed from the project. Dad was hired to finish out 
the project. This was in approximately 1907, because at that 
time he married Carolyn Borchard. 

LAS KEY : You had mentioned earlier that he developed a 
process while building the Hamburger Building. What was that? 
MARTIN: This was a system of reinforced concrete which con- 
sisted of building a skeleton frame for the pilings and 
beams out of reinforcing steel, which was strong enough, 
by its very structural design, to suspend the forms for the 
pouring of concrete. In effect, he built a steel frame of the 
lattice-like members of reinforcing, hung the forms on them, 
and then poured the concrete around the fireproof ing, and the 
reinforced concrete--! mean the concrete itself — which made a 
composite design, a composite type of reinforced concrete, 
which is the substance of the nature of the system. That 
allowed one to continually build out of reinforcing steel 
and bring on the concrete later, and this is what is done 
today in steel frame. So it was something like that. I 
don't have, I'm sorry to say, any of the detail, unless 
we could find it in our archives, of the nature of that 
system. It may be someplace around. But that was it. 

He also was working in thin-shell concrete dome design, 
and sometime later, a few years later, he designed the dome 
of the Christian Science church that stands on Adams 
[Boulevard] . And they tell me that it was at that time the 


largest thin-shelled dome that had been designed of reinforced 
concrete . 

And as he went through life he constantly worked on 
imaginative engineering invention. It showed up well in the 
construction of [Sid] Grauman's Million Dollar Theatre at 
Third and Broadway. The occasion was the result of the 
failure to receive structural steel from the mills at the 
time of World War I and the requirement that they had to do 
something, like go to reinforced concrete, which he did, for 
the cantilevered balcony of that building. Which is truly 
an historic event in structure. But that breaks a little bit 
away, again, from the account, the history of the Martin 

LAS KEY : Just to go back a bit, did you ever meet your grand- 
parents, or do you know anything about them as far as the 

MARTIN: Well, I certainly did. We used to go to their house 
on Sundays very often. 
LASKEY : They moved out here? 

MARTIN: The grandparents, John Martin and Mary, moved here, 
established residence on Fourth Avenue, probably south, 
between Washington and Adams [boulevards]. And the rest of 
the family came West. 
LASKEY: Well, now, who came first? 
MARTIN: Joe Martin. 


LASKEY : Joe came first. Then your father. 
MARTIN: Then Dad. And then I am not certain. There was 
an older brother, Frank; there was a younger brother, 
Emmett, who was an architect; then there were the daughters, 
there are Mary, Stella, Virginia, and Mrs. Ganahl — my mind 
fails me at the moment — [Margaret]. So there was, I guess, 
four girls and four boys. 

LASKEY: So it too was a large family, like the Borchards. 
MARTIN: It was a large family, yes. And they all lived. 
They all moved here eventually. The girls probably came with 
their parents. 

LASKEY: What did your grandfather do out here? Was he--? 
MARTIN: I don't think he was employed. I think he came in 
the later years of his life, and I don't know what his source 
of income was. When he lived in La Salle, Illinois, he was 
in the hardware store business, which meant they were also 
the undertakers, because caskets were sold in hardware 
stores. My father used to drive the hearse, with its big 
black horses; and that was one of the things that he spoke 
of when I was young. That was the nature of their business, 
and they were very active in La Salle, Illinois. 
LASKEY: How did your father come to be interested in 
engineering and architecture? Did he ever tell you about that? 
MARTIN: No, I think that he always had this interest in 
invention, and he was a very brilliant person. And there 


was just no question that he would be headed for the 

university because of his high IQ. And all through his 

life that was proven; in his most productive years he was very 

inventive, very energetic. 

LASKEY : Now he also, I think in the early years, did 

things in Oxnard and Ventura. 

MARTIN: Yes. Well, his marriage to Carolyn Borchard gave 

him an introduction, first of all, to the design of 

residences, and he designed residences for some of the 

early families of Ventura and Oxnard. The Henry Borchard 

residence was an outstanding residence. The Tom Gill residence 

was an important one. He also designed the Bank of A. Levy 

in Oxnard and the Chapel [of St. iMary Magdalene] for Adolph ■ 

Camarillo in Camarillo. And then, most importantly, the 

Ventura County courthouse, which today is an historical 

monument and is the city hall of Ventura today. 

LASKEY: When did he do that? Do you know when the city 

hall was built? 

MARTIN: I would say that that was, I believe, in 1913 or 

' 14. 

LASKEY: When did he decide to go into business for himself? 

MARTIN: When he was commissioned to become the architect 

to complete the Hamburger store. He was then recognized as 

being very capable, and he was launched on his own by that 

project. And in 1907 he married Carolyn Borchard; so he went 


into business in 1906. 

LASKEY: From the beginning he must have been successful, 
MARTIN: Yes, he was. He was the favorite of the Jewish 
community and the favorite of the Catholic community, which 
is rather interesting. 
LASKEY: How did he manage that? 

MARTIN: Well, I think it was basically a matter of trust. 
The Jewish community, who were merchants and bankers, 
developed a high degree of trust with A. C. And the Catholic 
diocese in those days found the same thing: that he was the 
most capable. And he did a great many schools and churches 
for what is today the archdiocese. An endless list, you 
know, like Loyola High School, St. Vincent's Church; 
hospitals, like Queen of Angels Hospital, or many others, 
St. John's Hospital in Oxnard, Ventura County Hospital. 
LASKEY: Did he ever talk about what Los Angeles, the city 
itself, was like in those early years, say from 1907 to 1910? 
What kind of a city was it? 

MARTIN: Well, I don't remember direct conversations, but I 
have impressions. My father, who was prominent as a young 
architect, strove to become socially recognized in the 
establishment of the city of Los Angeles, which I believe 
was pretty sophisticated and an exclusive group of early 
settlers who were quite wealthy. He was really a young man 
that earned all of his way and was very proud of his family. 


and he moved his homeplace to Seventh and Catalina [streets], 
which was right across the street from the Newmarks and the 
Hellmans and the Tatums, Donn Tatum's family--all those 
early families. And my father really became a part of that, 
to some extent. He was ambitious, and underneath it all 
he had a strong desire to be recognized for his ability, 
which he certainly had. So his life was influenced greatly 
by his works in helping to build the city, his association 
with prominent bankers or business people. His initiative 
brought him far into the recognition as being a substantial 
citizen and part of the establishment, and there certainly 
was an establishment. 

LAS KEY : He had some strong competition, too, I would think, 
at that time, with the Parkinsons and Morgan and Walls. 
MARTIN: The Parkinsons, right. And those firms were 
really established earlier than he was; like John Parkinson 
was the dean, without a question, and Morgan, Walls, and 
Clements finally, and Myron Hunt, and some of the early 
architects were here before Dad was here. And they really 
were more prominent in the design of office buildings than 
A. C. was. He was the newcomer. In some ways they had to 
recognize him because of his attainments, and he was an 
independent person, too. Very proud to be independent. 
LASKEY : This was in his nature, to be an independent thinker? 
MARTIN: Yes, I would say so. The nature of the city, as 


I recall it, was to a great extent, I think, very clean 
and very nice, from a physical point of view. And Wilshire 
Boulevard, in the vicinity of Vermont [Avenue] , was the 
center of the fine residences. At the corner of Vermont 
and Wilshire [Boulevard] was the beautiful residence of 
the person who's given the museum and so forth to USC 
[University of Southern California], Hancock, [G. ] Allan 
Hancock residence was on the corner. The [Oscar] Lawler 
[Jr.] residence was in the vicinity of Vermont and New 
Hampshire [avenues], on Wilshire. Many of those residences 
you can see in Hancock Park today, because they were all moved 
out. In those days they used to move them out. 
LASKEY: You mean they were physically moved into Hancock 

MARTIN: Physically moved, yes, right. And you can find 
them there today. It might be hard to recognize some of 
them now. But I recall the city as being really quite clean, 
people interested in tree planting, beautiful boulevards. 
LASKEY: Now, when were you born? 
MARTIN: I was born in 1913. 
LASKEY: In 1913, and where? 

MARTIN: My home — Well, I was born in St. Vincent's 
Hospital, which was on the corner of Sunset [Boulevard] 
and Beaudry [Avenue], on the hill, and it was later moved 
to where it is today. My parents' residence was at Seventh 


and Catalina, which was a home located immediately adjacent 
to the Windsor Hotel, which is still there, and the Windsor 
Restaurant is there. I often go there today to talk with 
Mr. [Ben] Dimsdale, who bought my father's property, 
because we are friends, and we talk about the old times. 
So that is the last bit of a tie, because you can't find-- 
The house is gone. The garage is gone too, I believe, now. 
LASKEY : That would be about where the Ambassador [Hotel] is. 
MARTIN: We were there before the Ambassador and before 
the Windsor Hotel. As a matter of fact, where the Windsor 
Hotel stands today was the original site for St. Basil's 
Church, which my father designed. They built the original 
St. Basil's Church, which was an English half-timbered 
church, and as the saying goes, the father pastor couldn't 
stand the noise of the Martin kids, who were right next door. 
Besides, my father wouldn't sell him the house to be the 
parish house, so they moved the church. And my father moved 
it for him, out to Wilshire and Harvard [boulevards], and 
later on that same church burned down. And that church was 
expanded, which I had something to do with. Then finally 
we built the new St. Basil's Church, and the old one burnt 
down the day we moved in, almost. So that little half- 
timbered church had a wonderful history, but a little rough. 
It was the parish church for Monsignor Father [Edward] Kirk, 
who was a very much of a loved priest and had a great 


devotion to the Virgin Mary. But that's-- Those are little 

You asked about the nature of the city, and I think 
the most vivid thing in my mind is the importance of 
streetcars and the whole system of transportation, because 
when we were children, in the early twenties and late teens, 
we went to schools that were along the Eighth Street car 
line, which became Eighth and Ninth. I first of all 
went to kindergarten at Hoover Street School, and then 
went to Cathedral Chapel, which later became Immaculate 
Conception Parish, which my father had designed. We would 
take the N car, a nickel a ride, and those streetcars did 
a magnificent job, of course. I remember the demise very 
clearly. The demise of the streetcars was because the 
automobile was coming on the scene, and the conflict between 
the pedestrian coming from the curb to the streetcar and 
the automobile was the worst kind of a conflict. And the 
automobile--every thing finally plugged up. Downtown, you 
couldn't move through downtown, and they therefore abandoned 
the streetcars. I remember that very clearly. I used to 
be a paperboy selling papers at Eighth and Vermont; I 
remember that very clearly. 
LASKEY: Now, these were the "red cars"? 

MARTIN: No, these were the "yellow cars," streetcars. The 
red cars were a different line. LA Railway was the yellow 
cars, and the red cars were Pacific Electric [Railway], 


which was [Henry E.] Huntington. 

But the city was a clean city, and the whole nature of 
Los Angeles, I think, was very progressive, really a very 
industrious kind of people, and to some extent agricultural, 
beause of the orange groves, which were so important, on 
the east side, around Pomona and Whittier and so forth. 
LASKEY: Well, if you lived at Seventh and Catalina, was 
that pretty much the outskirts of the city at that time? 
MARTIN: It was close; it was before the Ambassador Hotel 
was there, and that site of the Ambassador Hotel was an 
open field. The west edge of that site was the swamp, which 
was our playground, but which we had a lot to do with later 
in life. That is now a major storm drain that comes down 
Normandie [Avenue] and runs south through that whole 
district. It's all underground now, but in those days it 
was an open swamp, on the west side of that site. That 
swamp came all the way from Bimini Baths, which was north 
on Vermont, adjacent to Virgil [Avenue]. 
LASKEY: What were the Bimini Baths? 

MARTIN: Bimini Baths was probably the most exciting and 
popular cluster of swimming pools for the public that you 
can ever imagine. There were two indoor pools and one 
outdoor pool. They were heated pools, and all of the populace 
in the area used to go there and learn to swim, or swim, and 
it was the center of that whole idea of recreation. It 


was adjacent to the swamp, and the swamp came south to 
Fifth Street and turned west over to Normandie and Vermont, 
and then south on Normandie, running right through the 
Tishman project and the west side of the Ambassador. I 
remember as a boy very clearly that that swamp, which had 
oil wells pumping adjacent to it, caught on fire because 
of the oil, and there was a three-block fire, running from 
Vermont to Kenmore [avenues], all ablaze at one time. The 
cattails were like wicks full of oil, you know, and it was 
a huge fire. But that was one of the things I'll never 
forget. That must have been about 1920. 

I probably should get back to the history of the Martin 

LASKEY: It's all Martin. 

MARTIN: As I said, the city was a very beautiful city, 
in my estimation. It was clean; the houses were compara- 
tively new. John Martin and Mary Martin lived on Fourth 
Avenue, as I described. Virginia McNamee , whose family is 
active in the city today, was one of the daughters. Margaret 
Ganahl was one I couldn't think of, lived on St. Andrew's 
[Place], and C. C. Ganahl was in the lumber business, a 
very prominent lumberyard [Ganahl Lumber Company] . Frank 
Martin was a technician that worked in the testing of 
materials; Smith-Emery [Company], I believe, was his 
employer. Emmett, the young architect, was educated by 


my father, my father supported him, and he came into the 
office, but there became a conflict. Emmett then went 
into business on his own and did some magnificient churches, 
including St. Brendan's on Third Street, west of Western 
[Avenue], and probably one of the finest churches in the 
city. Father Joe Martin was drafted into the service in 
World War I. He was inventive and invented an early version 
of the tank, which I remember he modeled up and showed us 
as we were children, how this tank worked, a tank with 
the continuous tracks. He was interested in that; I don't 
think he had patents, but he was always talking about it. 

Family today: there are very few left except Virginia 
McNamee ' s family. John McNamee is in this city. I believe 
he's a banker; I'm quite sure he is. And the others, I 
haven't seen them for a long time. So that's about my 
remembrance of the Martin side. Not very many children 

LASKEY: What about your own family? Your brothers and sisters, 
and your growing up, so we can-- 

MARTIN: Our family is — everyone is still alive and doing 
well. I have four sisters and my brother, Ed. Starting 
with Ed, he has five children, as my wife and I do, three 
boys and two girls, and we're partners, and of course that's 
very current. I have a sister, Carolyn, who is Mrs. Joe 
Novak, living in Pittsburgh, and Joe Novak is a very 


prominent opthamologis t in Pittsburgh. They have two 
adopted children. Then my sister Margaret, who is Mrs. 
Milton Dailey (he is deceased) , lives in Camarillo, part 
of Ventura County, and is extremely active in the area, as 
is her offspring. She has, I think [pause] four children. 
I'd better not get into it--I'm embarrassed. And Evelyn 
is the oldest sister; she is Mrs. Frank Purcell, lives in 
Palm Springs. Frank Purcell, now deceased, was a very 
active and prominent dentist in the Palm Springs area. 
Lucille is living in Westlake; she is divorced, has been 
for many years, lives alone now, and is very active with 
her hobby of training horses. She loves to help train 
horses, and she does that as a hobby. So that is a quick 
rundown on our own family. 

LASKEY: To go back, there's one thing I should ask you. 
What does the C stand for? 
MARTIN: The C is Carey; it was my grandmother's maiden name. 


DECEMBER 17, 1980 

LASKEY : Mr. Martin, you were telling me about your 

father's name. 

MARTIN: The name Carey, which is my father's middle name 

and mine, was my grandmother's maiden name. Beyond that 

I know nothing of the Carey family, but they were from the 

Middle West, probably from the vicinity of La Salle. The 

name has been carried down by myself as junior and my oldest 

son, Albert Carey Martin, III. 

LASKEY: It sounds Irish. 

MARTIN: It is. Both sides of the Martin family are Irish, 

and both sides of the Borchard family are German. So we had 

the Borchards , which included tlie Kaufmans, Grandmother 

Borchard was a Kaufman. And my grandfather Martin v/as Irish 

and so was his wife, Mary Carey. So it is a kind of a distinct 

mix of German and Irish. 

LASKEY: At any time when you were young, were the Borchards 

and the Martins ever together? 

MARTIN: Yes, there were several occasions where they paid 

somewhat of a nice courtesy visit, where members of the 

Martin family would go to Oxnard. As a matter of fact, 

some of the Martin girls became very good friends of some 

of the Borchard family and some of the people in Oxnard; 

so there were ties, friendship ties, between the Martins and 


the Borchards, and between the Martins and some of the 
other Oxnard people. It was a very nice kind of a relation- 
ship . 

LASKEY: Did anybody ever take a head count? 
MARTIN: Well, yes, quite often. Not when the Martin 
tribe, the family, and the Borchard clan got together. 
But on the Borchard side I believe I had something like 
twenty-five first cousins, and on the Martin side I believe 
I had something like fifteen first cousins. And of course 
later on the families developed into a big group. 
LASKEY: Do you have any feelings about growing up in a big 

MARTIN: Well, my feelings were all very pleasant. My 
remembrances of my immediate family, brothers and sisters, 
were always very pleasant. And with r:\y first cousins it was 
the same way, in all cases, I would say. I was not very 
close to my Martin first cousins, but I was very close to 
the Borchard side, first cousins. 
LASKEY: Were they very supportive of you? 
MARTIN: What do you mean? 

LASKEY: As a family unit, did you support each other in the 
sense of approving, you know, encouraging? 

MARTIN: I would really say no. Not in a negative sense. 
Oxnard was a long way from Los Angeles. The Oxnard side 
of the familv were oracticallv all farmers. The farmers 


were engaged in their thing, which was quite different than 
the lifestyle of the city people. And there was a distinct 
difference between the country people and the city people, 
one which probably would be enhanced by the fact that the 
country people had to come to the city for their education — 
high school and college, high school to a lesser amount. 
The city people were always doing things which were a little 
more related to the latest advancement in automobiles, in 
communications. In fact there was, I believe, a certain 
subliminal jealousy between the country people and the city 
people. Now, the people of Oxnard really advanced the state 
of agriculture greatly in their very modern concepts of 
cultivation and drainage of the land and such things, the 
development of water. And they were on the frontier. 
LASKEY: Specifically, what did they do? 

MARTIN: Well, I believe the development of the drainage 
ditch system in the Oxnard plain area was the thing that made 
that into the very valuable agricultural plain that it is, 
because formerly it was an alkali deposit, which would even 
be shown as a crust on the surface of the land and would, 
of course, be detrimental to any crops. That drainage system 
was initiated by Senator [Thomas R. ] Bard of Hueneme--! think 
I mentioned that before--and my grandfather was one of the 
farmers who was participating in the district and undoubtedly 
paying taxes to pay for the bonds and things like that. But 


there was a feeling at that time between these two segments 
of society, which of course today is almost washed away, 
because those people are as much urban today as anybody. 
So I guess that may be a response to your question. 
LASKEY: How about your own family, your immediate family, 
growing up and your brothers and sisters? 

MARTIN: We had — I think the most important event in my 
family was that my father really was ill. He was subjected 
to-- What is the disease where you pass out? 
LASKEY: Epilipsy? 

MARTIN: Epilepsy. I think the stongest influence on the 
children was the fear of his death, all through our lives. 
He used to collapse and fall on the floor, and you would 
think he was dying right there. And I think I lived perhaps 
my whole life in fear of his death. He lived to be eighty- 
one, [laughter] 

Then later on ray father, after the Depression, had some 
problem with drinking, and that became a very negative thing 
in his later life. His companionship with my mother in 
later life was really pretty serious. When I came into the 
office after I graduated in 1936 and in early 1937, things 
were in a very severe state of affairs. That was the 
end of the Depression, which in a way just wiped my father 
out, and between his epilepsy and drinking, it created a very 
difficult thing. He was still respected, but he was losing 


ground very rapidly and his professional posture. He had 
some good clients, and he did a good job, a terrific job; 
especially Tom [Thomas] May and the old Ducommun family and 
some of the Union Hardware people, the McLaughlins, were very 
loyal to him, and he did a great job. When I came on the 
scene, the youth started to bring a certain element of 
reliability, and he had some employees--Tom [Thomas] 
Gilbert, Joe Longueville, and Norman Patten — that were very 
loyal, and they kept the office going really. 

Then as the war came on, in 1942, the architects 
were in bad shape, because in the civil engineers' manual, 
or the army manual, there's only the word engineer , not 
architect . Architects were camouflage people. And that's 
the way it was. When they started building buildings, like 
temporary hospitals or aircraft manufacturing, they 
started to bring the architects back in. This was later on, 
two or three years after we were in the war. That's when 
we got started again as a firm. We were very low. We 
weren't doing schools. (My dad did a beautiful job in 1937 
on Lincoln High School; I think it is one of the finest 
schools that he ever did.) 

But in any case, this period of my father's was turbulent, 
and it became turbulent in the family too. My mother was, 
in our minds, a saint to be able to withstand it. She was 
a very strong woman, and she was very loyal to my father. 


but it was not easy. So you asked about the relationship 
between the children and my parents: it always included 
the element of fear of death of my father, of protecting 
him against his habits of drinking, and [of] trying to do 
the most with a very difficult situation. So they were very 
trying years, as far as Mother was concerned. One doesn't 
like to recall those things, but we're talking about the 
truth and history, and it was very bad. My father, as he 
got older, even though his reaction to his epilepsy was 
improved because of medicine — And he was an early trial case 
I remember that, the doctors were searching, searching, and 
searching for something to hold it back. Now between 
that and — I lost my train of thought a little bit. 
LASKEY : Your father's struggle and your relationship to that 
struggle . 

MARTIN: Well, the struggle, and then with all of this, 
and the bringing on the family-- We were all educated at 
use, and there was no money to educate us. We all worked 
to help get through. The Depression destroyed the assets 
of the family completely, with the exception of a few pieces 
of property-- the homeplace and the Riverside ranch, which 
we still own. (Ed and I own it now, and it was one of my 
father's very interesting ventures, almost a story unto 
itself.) But the feeling between the girls and the boys 
today I would say is excellent, considering all the years 


that have passed, considering opportunities for disagree- 
ment; we really don't have any strong disagreement between 
members of the family today. And everybody's alive, which 
is unusual. 


JANUARY 7, 19 81 

LASKEY: iMr . Martin, you made some references to the Riverside 
ranch. I thought perhaps you could tell us what that is. 
MARTIN: My father came from a small town in Illinois. He 
landed in Los Angeles and became a very well accepted architect. 
He married the daughter of a farmer who was most successful 
in Oxnard. I believe subliminally he always wanted to have 
a ranch of his own, which one can probably understand as a 
desire on the part of a small- town midwestern youth. The 
Riverside area was an area that had a great many prominent 
settlers at the turn of the century, many English families, 
and today if you go through the area along the Riverside 
Freeway, from Newport to Riverside, you find an area which is 
called Victoria Avenue, which was the reference to the English 
backgrounds of so many people. These people developed wonderful 
orange orchards and avenues lined with palm trees, and today 
it's one of the prettiest areas in Southern California. This 
is in the vicinity of Van Buren [Boulevard], a cross-street to 
the Riverside Freeway. 

Somehow, through some of my father's friends, generally of 
pioneering interest, he discovered a parcel of land in the 
back country from this Riverside area, in the Gavilan Hills. 
And sometime, perhaps about 1916, he purchased around 1,500 
acres of land, some of it suitable for agriculture and some 



of it, because of the rock coverage and lack of water, was 
suitable for nothing more than "rocks and rattlesnakes." 
That became, in the minds of the family members of the family, 
the Riverside ranch. We had very little to do with the ranch 
because it was far away. It was undeveloped, and not until I 
became interested in it, just because I wanted to hunt rabbits 
and things like that, did we ever as a family participate in 
the ranch. However, about 1950, I became more interested ■ 
and suggested to Dad that we do something with it and that 
I would like to help. 

Perhaps closer to 1960, I with a neighbor, Mr. Don McMillan, 
proceeded to develop water for the area. Since the large ditch 
feeding the Lake Mathews water basin or Lake Mathews water 
storage area, the ditch which came from the Colorado River, 
was about two miles from the ranch, we proceeded to develop 
a private water company. We put in pumping stations and 
pumped water up the hill, a lift of about 900 feet, into 
reservoirs that we constructed near the ranch. So in this way 
we opened up the country for the development of citrus. My 
companion Don McMillan was in the citrus business, and he took 
the initiative in getting the lines laid. 

This led to an agreement between my brother Ed and myself 
and my father to proceed with the planting of citrus groves. 
Eventually we planted and have today 480 acres of citrus, 
equally divided between Valencias and navels. Our philosophy 


was that the only way we could keep such a piece of land 

through time would be to improve it and get some kind of an 

income flow that would preserve it for future development. 

My father died in 1962, I guess — 

LASKEY: In 1959. '-" 

MARTIN: [in] 1959, and the ranch was willed to the 

girls. We developed a purchase agreement with 

them and bought it from them and proceeded with our orange 

development enterprise. As you look back through time, 

because of the high altitude of 2,000 feet and occasional freezes, 

it has been a very unprofitable venture, with the exception, 

and perhaps it's a rationalization, that we still have the land, 

and it is in the process of becoming subdividable into 

residential tracts. There are 1,460 acres, and perhaps 1,000 

of them are usable for high-quality residential. I've spent 

the last five years in the process of planning and developing 

the whole area, with neighbors, and creating the laws which 

will promote the development of streets and school districts 

and water supply, gas, and all the utilities. So I've been 

personally very involved in the formation of the property 

owners' associations and the development of the infrastructure 

for future development. 

At this moment, after all these years, Ed and I have realized 
that the land is getting valuable, perhaps worth $7 or 
$8 million now, and we better get rid of it. So several years 


ago, we started the process of giving it to our children and 
our grandchildren, which is now accomplished; we have given 
maybe 400 acres of it to some thirty heirs, in a partnership 
which we control for management purposes. Just what the future 
brings I don't know, but I'm in the process of actively 
planning the long-range future of the area, and our land 
particularly, at this moment. It's a great piece of land and 
has to be handled very carefully. It's never been profitable; 
as a matter of fact it's been a headache, but does have 
tremendous financial potential. 

LASKEY : Would you see it like another Westwood or Westlake 
Village, that kind of development? 

MARTIN: No, it's really suburban, it's way out in the country. 
It's beautiful country. It is in the center of population that 
is less affluent than the Westside of Los Angeles, by 
considerable. However, there is a certain element of our 
society that are interested in ranchos , small ranches, that 
are interested in equestrian activities and just getting into 
the smog-free area. And we visualize now homes that would sell 
in the vicinity of several hundred thousand dollars. 
LASKEY: But they would be like small ranches. 

LASKEY: Rather than a tract kind of a development. 
MARTIN: Yes. The zoning is such that it discourages any 
small-sized lots. The fact is you can't do it under the zoning. 


We are the ones that have been working with the pattern of 
zoning, and the consensus of all the owners in the area is that 
they do not want it to get down to a half-an-acre lot or 
anything like that. So that's satisfactory with us, and 
therefore our plans are made accordingly. But our plans will 
include some high-quality features just because of the pride 
that is existing in seeing this ranch of "rocks and rattle- 
snakes" evolve into a beautiful residential area. That's 
kind of a summary of the history and the existing status of 
the ranch. I can't go much further with projections. I know 
it's long-range very valuable, I know it's going to take a 
great deal of effort to bring it through its evolution, 
which is a pleasure, as far as I'm concerned. 
LASKEY: Is it still being farmed? 

LASKEY: It still has the orchards on it. 

MARTIN: Yes. Our part of Corona-College Heights [Orange and 
Lemon Association] packinghouse, which we are part owners of. 
We are partially Sunkist [Growers, Inc.] label for marketing, 
which we just moved out from because of some deficiencies and 
some disorganization, and we have helped through our influence 
to bring in another marketing company called Sun World, just 
because Sunkist has, in my mind, failed us and cost us a lot 
of money. 
LASKEY: In what way? 


MARTIN: Well, internally the Sunkist organization has been 

weakened due to internal politics, I believe, and a change in 

the ownership composition of the board of directors from a 

farm-owning director to a commercial type of director, 

meaning the commercial interests have been moving into the 

farming business, and that creates a great deal more attention 

to the marketing process, in the Asian countries especially. 

So Sunkist has been marketing as a cooperative type of organization 

with an agreement that the marketing will be controlled by 

Sunkist, in the Asian countries particularly, and that the 

procedure would include a single source of marketing. However, 

members of Sunkist organization have been marketing on the 

side, to the detriment of the loyal members of Sunkist, and the 

board of directors of Sunkist hasn't stopped the policy. And 

so we gave them the word, we just moved our whole packing 

operation out from under the control of Sunkist. It's a 

movement that is forthcoming, I believe, in many cooperatives. 

LASKEY: Is Sun World a cooperative still? 

MARTIN: Yes. They have a very strong marketing organization. 

They market vegetables also. United Fruit [Company], I believe, 

and they have, for example, a label for bananas called Chiquita 

banana, which in Europe is a very big label. 

LASKEY: It is here too; I think it's probably the one 

identifiable label. 

MARTIN: So it's a strong organization, and my goal at the 


moment, my brother's also, is that we will hope to sell the 
packinghouse, which has a great profit in it, and we own 
about 12 percent of the ownership, which is valued at $5.2 
million. So we would much rather have our interest in the 
form of cash than in the form of a packinghouse and as a 
capital gain. So the future will see some resolution of that 
problem, but I've been somewhat instrumental on the side in 
seeing that this sale of the packinghouse may become part of 
the move to the new marketing organization, just because we 
don't want to be in the packinghouse business, just like 
originally we didn't want to be in the water company business 
when we built the water company. 

LASKEY: What happened to the water company? Do you still 
own that? 

MARTIN: We submitted our interest to the people by a vote, 
and the people voted to accept Metropolitan Water District 
as the water company management and ownership. We sold it 
back to them at our cost, just to get out from under. But 
we did accomplish the goal of bringing water to the Gavilan 
Hills, which was a major goal. It was two miles away and 
it's 12,000 acres in the watershed area of this plateau. 
It was a very constructive thing to do, because now everybody 
has water and before that nobody had water. 
LASKEY: And the land is usable and of value, which you 
didn't have before. 


MARTIN: Well, the day we turned on the first pump, we made 

the remark to each other, Mr. McMillan and myself, that we 

just made $1.5 million. Because it added, actually, $1,000 

per acre to our holdings at that time, that's a long time 

ago. Which was true. It didn't mean anything, because we 

were not after it, and what we really want to do is convert 

it into a very beautiful long-range development and have 

others participate and our family to participate. 

LASKEY: In the process of going through all this, when you 

started growing citrus up there, did you get involved in the 

growing of it at all? 

MARTIN: Oh, I was and I am. 

LASKEY: Oh, you are. 

MARTIN: You see, I'm managing the groves right now as the 

member of our partnership between Ed and myself. We have 

an operating manager and an assistant resident who are on 

the property all the time. I'm involved in a business sense, 

with the responsibility of operating it now. Which is fine. 

When you're a farmer you worry when it gets cold. 

LASKEY: Or too hot, or no rain. 

MARTIN: Oh, yes. It's a lousy business, but it's kind of 

fun. But we have never made any real money. 

LASKEY: Well, it's a very chancy business, especially citrus. 

MARTIN: Yes, you can lose a couple hundred thousand [dollars], 

or you can make it. You lose several hundred thousand 


periodically, that's about the way it is. And the reason, 

fundamentally, is that we're really in a marginal area. 

We grow a high quality of fruit, but it's cold, and some of 

the places on the ranch are shallow soiled and a little more 

difficult to develop a producing tree. But it is quality 

fruit, and we have a very good operation with an outstanding 

manager, Mr. Chuck Johnson, who's permanently our manager. 

LASKEY : Do you have a timetable, even remotely, for starting 

to phase out the citrus operation? 

MARTIN: Well, I'm convinced that with the major change 

in the cost of energy because of the oil shortage and the 

increase in electrical rates, that any marginal operation will 
fail. And we, I believe, are seeing the first indications of that 

right now. Because our costs of water are about $156 an acre- 
foot per year and we apply 2.8 acre-feet per acre per year — 
xAnd this alone, let alone the cost of chemicals (which are 
from oil) , this alone destroys the opportunity for profit, even 
though the cost of fruit has increased. And there's an excess 
of fruit on the market because of the large plantings in the 
San Joaquin Valley. Then there are many areas of the emerging 
nations throughout the world that are producing oranges, 
and with new increased communications and the various markets 
that exist, it's tough for the California grower at this moment. 

So, therefore, I really believe that a forecast of time 
would be that we will not replace sections of the grove which 


may depreciate due to excess water, incidentally. We will 
continue to operate, but with an eye to the possibility of 
developing small ranches for people who want to have an orange 
grove and who want a home, ten to twenty acres- And it may 
be that we'll develop an operating company with Chuck Johnson 
heading it, which would commercially operate the orchards 
for the landowners. But the landlords would have the benefit 
of a cash flow from the citrus or a deduction of a commercial 
operation, which would be beneficial to them, and they could 
hold it for long-range appreciation of the land, through 
twenty years, let's say. And it will appreciate, for those. 
We may go that route. That's the process that we're in and 
the long-range planning at this moment. iMany things tie in 
to such a thesis. The best form of land planning and 
community planning: we're very capable of that in our office. 
And I'm certain that a very exciting community will develop, 
with our land being part of it. 

LASKEY : Well, it's that you're in the position of creating 
something from the very beginning, exactly the way you want 
it. It's a wonderful challenge. 

MARTIN: Well, it doesn't really work out that way. It's an 
uphill battle to even attain half of your desires. The process 
of land development that is existing today in our various 
governments, particularly in Riverside, includes the dominance 
of certain people that, let's say, are the environmentalists' 


group, or the no-growth group, that throw roadblocks against 
development or in front of development continually and 
hypothecate impossible situations, such as growth brings 
an undesirable element into the community, brings smog, brings 
all the negative factors. And those people really have a frame 
of mind like that because they really do want to live in the 
country. They got their land cheap, and they don't want 
anybody in the whole area to change the nature of the land. 
I can't blame them, except that big landowners like us have a 
terrible problem. We don't want to dump the land to gain money, 
because that's kind of a distasteful thing to me and to Ed; 
we really want to develop the land into something that is 
high-quality, and that takes governmental procedures and 
policies that allow for such a thing. So it's an uphill battle 
within elements of the society. 

It's an interesting game, but we're not able to control 
our destiny, we can only influence it. And we try very hard 
to do that by spending money v/ith consultants, as we're doing 
now, to show the advantages to the supervisors and the 
planners of certain kinds of systems, civil systems, that will 
allow for a proper development in a reasonably intelligent 
economic format. Most planners and most people, like super- 
visors, have no appreciation for the financial aspects of 
development. They have the belief that all developers are in 
for a fast buck and are loaded with money and they can build 


the roads and they can put in all the underground utilities 
and come out ahead. Our pro forma has indicated that that's 
not the case at all, that we have a hard time finding the 
formula for optimizing our investment. From our point of 
view, we're investing for partnership of thirty kids, you 
see, and so it's not to make a fast buck, it's to develop 
a long-range, solid ownership type of thing. Of course 
there will be sales, but that money probably will go to the 
education of these children, that's what I believe. 
LASKEY: It's interesting that they, the environmentalists 
or whatever, would challenge you or give you--when you clearly 
want to develop an outstanding product, that you're not 
there to bring chaos. 

MARTIN: I think most people now in the valley, who are out 
there, like retired firemen, three or four of those, I think 
they believe that we are trying to do good. But they don't 
want the change, and so no matter what they believe-- And 
we do have a good image; Albert C. Martin and Associates has 
an outstanding image in the planning department and before the 
board of supervisors because we have done so many fine 
projects, recent projects, that have gone through the Riverside 
planning department and supervisors. But one can still see 
that it's the process of creating the new formats, new laws, 
new ordinances, that will allow for this, is pioneering of 
the first order. And this is nothing new for the people 


that have been bringing raw land into urbanization, it's 
always been this way. It's just tougher these days they 
tell me. 

LASKEY: You're finding out. I'm curious — You mentioned the 
rising costs of energy. Does your new plan include any 
alternative energy sources? 

MARTIN: We haven't really given any attention. However, it's 
a fine question, because all residential work, all residential 
projects, in the future will really have to take advantage of 
some of the energy conservation things. The management of 
energy on a communitywide basis is an important future subject. 
Certainly solar energy will be employed for domestic water 
and m.aybe a little bit for household heating, but there is 
much more in the "way of energy use in a community than just 
residential lighting. There's street lighting, and there's 
water pressures and all of those utility things that require 
energy. Especially to move water from one level up to another. 
That's where it gets expensive, and I don't know what those 
things are yet for such a new community, but there will be 
something there. 

One thing that may happen in the future, since we are 
somewhat writing for the future, is that I hope to develop 
this land in a manner which will preserve some of the natural 
landmarks. On our property is a small mountain called Gavilan 
Peak. It's a very unique geological landmark; it's a perfect 


cone in shape. And all of our plans at this stage will include 
the preservation of that peak in its natural state and not 
endeavor to hang residences all over its sides. I am of a 
mind to dedicate it as an open space, permanently, along 
with some of the other possible parks in the area. I think 
that the preservation of Gavilan Peak would be a wonderful 
thing for the future and a wonderful thing to live in the 
flatlands around the peak because it will be untouched. 
So those are criteria things that hover around the background 
of the planning process. It's a very exciting kind of an 
endeavor. So that is just one more element in the life of 
Al and Ed, in their practice of architecture and engineering. 

So is there anything else that occurs to you concerning 
the Gavilan or the Riverside ranch? 
LASKEY: No, I think we've covered that. 

MARTIN: Oh, several things about the Riverside ranch that 
may be of interest, for the record. I spoke of the English 
interest in the Riverside area, but that interest also v/as 
involved in the mining for gold in the area. Back at the 
turn of the century, there were a series of mines in the 
Gavilan Hills area, the most prominent of which was the 
Idaleona mine, and we have named our first development project 
Idaleona Estates. That mine was open when I first went up 
there, but since then it's been closed over, so there's no 
evidence of it except piles of rock in the area. But the 


country is very loaded with gold-bearing ore, but we all 

know that that's a process that these days takes a lot of 

capital to pursue it, and conditions really aren't very logical 

for people to go down there and try to start in the goldmining 

business again. The Idaleona mine produced several million 

dollars for the owners in the turn of the century. 

LAS KEY : Do you know how it happened to become an English 

settlement? It seems very remote. 

MARTIN: No. If you think about the other areas, such as 

Pasadena, and the influence of the railroads and influence 

of [Henry E.] Huntington, you realize that at the turn of 

the century there was a great deal of wealth and a great 

many wealthy people looking at some of the possibilities of 

the West, and there's no question in my mind that these people 

came with considerable money. The weather of course is ideal 

in Riverside; it's hot in the summer, but it's a beautiful 

place. And that's true all along the foothill of the Sierra 

Madre mountains. Some of those areas have blossomed and some 

have deteriorated, but I think that was part of that whole 

movement, the railroad movement or the development of 

these big hotels, like the Huntington Hotel, the Ambassador 

Hotel later on, around 1920. But the early ones were related 

to the railroad. 

LASKEY: I think Redlands and Pasadena were actually built 

to resemble eastern communities, weren't they, and then 


people were wooed to come out here, and so the environment 

would be as much like home as possible. 

iVlARTIN: Well, it's true of Riverside, if you think of the old 

Riverside Mission Inn and some of those facilities out there and, 

as I mentioned, the residential area along the Victoria district. 

I think it's part of that same early turn-of -the-century 

Victorian period. People in this country, like 20 Mule Team 

Borax, which later became U.S. Borax, [was] all English-owned. 

LASKEY: I didn't know that. 

MARTIN: My father was the architect for 20 Mule Team Borax and 

built the Furnace Creek Inn in Death Valley as one of their 

hotels, the hotel in Death Valley, and that was his design. 

LASKEY: Do you still go there? 

MARTIN: We were there last year. I had once designed an 

addition to it when I was a young architect. We just stopped 

in last year, and it's changed, because the recreation 

vehicles have taken over Death Valley, really, 

LASKEY: Death Valley must have been very remote from 

Los Angeles, 

MARTIN: Yes, it was. There was, of course, a road, and they 

were mining borax out near Death Valley, 

LASKEY: Did they really use twenty-mule teams? 

MARTIN: Oh, yes. They were existing when my father first 

went there. As a matter of fact, he went there and they 

located a site for the hotel. They drilled tunnels into the 


mountains to develop cool water. He worked with the president 

of Pacific Coast Borax Company, that had the 20 Mule Team label; 

the president was Mr. [Christian B.] Zabriskie. 

LASKEY: Of Zabriskie Point. 

MARTIN: Zabriskie Point. And then Frank Jennifer and Harry 

Gower. Harry Gower was really the son-in-law of Frank Jennifer, 

who was the West Coast manager of Pacific Coast Borax. And 

Harry Gower really had the Furnace Creek Inn under his wing, 

so there's a lot of history connected with Furnace Creek Inn 

that is very interesting. My father was very much involved. 

LASKEY: Well, the Furnace Creek Inn, according to my little 

sheet, was done in 1927 — 

MARTIN: I guess that could be right. 

LASKEY: --and that was a while ago, as far as the development 

of Death Valley. Who were they expecting-- I mean, it sounds 

like a very bold move to build an inn at that time. 

MARTIN: Well, it was-- I believe that there were special 

hotels that were somewhat tied together, as far as friendship 

is concerned. And the one hotel operator that was very close 

to the Jennifers who managed the Furnace Creek Inn was 

Mrs. Coffman in Palm Springs. She had, I believe, the Desert 

Inn. I'm not sure whether it was the Desert Inn, but she 

was a hotel owner-operator, and there was a tie. Whether it 

was related to the railroads I'm not sure; it could have been. 


But of course Pacific Coast Borax was a big industry, and 
they may have owned their own railroad in there, and I think 
they did. But they were tied over to Baker and some of those 
towns along the main railroad, starting with Victorville. 
It was the main route, so this was a branch road, and you went 
in thirty, forty miles with it. Like the existence of hotels 
in Pasadena, or the Mission Inn, there was I think the Desert 
Inn and there was the Furnace Creek Inn, all appealing to a 
certain group of sophisticated travelers. 

LASKEY : It must have been a great adventure in the 19 20's 
to go to Death Valley. 

MARTIN: Oh, I am certain that it was. I'm certain that the 
spirit of adventure was there, and, which you may not suspect 
today, but I realize that my father participated with all 
those other people in the development of the water. 
LASKEY: What is the water source? 

MARTIN: Well, they have a spring, and they tunneled through 
a little hill to get to the spring. I remember his talking 
about it, and I've seen the tunnel, it's still there. 
LASKEY: How was the design hit upon for the inn? Do you 

MARTIN: Well, I'm sure it was inspired by my father, and he 
undoubtedly had some of his architects develop it. If I had 
to guess, there was an architect by the name of Harry Veale 
that might have designed that for Dad. I don't know; you see, 


I wasn't around. 

LASKEY: No. I just wondered if it had to do with the area, 

with the heat. 

MARTIN: Well, it was of the Spanish Renaissance inspiration, 

perhaps more mission inspiration. 

LASKEY: It's a beautiful hotel. 

MARTIN: It is; it's a very friendly hotel. Well, we got over 

into a little different branch. 

LASKEY: Well, they're part of the same thing. 


FEBRUARY 4, 19 81 

LASKEY: Mr. Martin, the last time you talking about the Furnace 

Creek Inn, and about the same time that building was built, 

your father was involved with building another important 

building, a landmark building. City Hall. I thought we 

might start today by talking about City Hall. 

MARTIN: I believe that the commissioning of my father, 

along with John Parkinson and John [C. ] Austin, was probably 

the highlight of my father's career. The three architects 

were unusual in their practice, and, as a team, they were quite 

formidable because of the many, many contacts that the three 

of them had. They had competition, however, that was active 

in their attempts to do public work, and it was a consortium 

of local architects--and I can't name them — that banded together 

and eventually did the [Los Angeles] County Hospital, called 

Allied Architects [of Los Angeles]. And I'm sure they were 

very capable, but there were a lot of them. When the 

selection for the design of the City Hall took place in the 

early twenties, my father and the other two presented their case, 

particularly to the Board of Public Works [Commissioners] and 

someone by the name of Hugh [J.] McGuire, who I believe was 

the president of the board, and they prevailed with their 

arguments and were selected. 


The unique thing about the design of the City Hall was 
the fact that it was the first building to be approved 
separately to be built higher than 150 feet, which was a 
limit height in the city ordinance. City Hall was designed 
at approximately 450 feet, twenty-eight stories, and it was 
designed to do the wonderful job that I think it has done 
through the many years of being a landmark that is seen from 
all parts of the city. Today it is submerged by the many 
high-rises that have been built since, many of them designed 
by our own firm. But it is unique in its position in the 
Civic Center Mall, it is unique in its characteristics of 
being a classical revival of the kinds of the various features 
of the Roman and Greek architecture. 

City Hall was built for less than the budget, a few 
dollars, which was less than $5 million. And if one attempts 
to appraise that today, they of course can't believe it. 
Because not only is the City Hall a well-built building, but 
it contains some very fine rooms and some very fine uses of 
marble and ornamental work and some very fine terrazzo and 
marble floors, and really it has done so well. We all know 
that as an office building it is inefficient; however as a 
central symbolic structure it's still very excellent, and 
that's some fifty years later. I suspect that the City Hall 
will be there fifty years from now, also, and maybe much 
longer than that, I hope. 


One thing connected with this City Hall was the controversy 
that existed at that time in the determination of the Civic 
Center Mall, and the Civic Center Mall was not aligned at the 
time of the design of the City Hall. They tell me that there 
were once designs for running the Civic Center Mall north and 
south, down Main Street, Spring and Main Street. 
LASKEY: Well, Allied Architects, I think, had a system for a 
grandiose, sort of a Renaissance or a beaux arts plan for the 
Civic Center, didn't they? Was that part of what your father 
was dealing with, was it a whole plan that the Allied Architects 
had presented or was it — ? 

MARTIN: I understood that there were more than one plan, and 
I think the Allied Architects did have a plan, now that you 
remind me of it. I don't know that my father ever prepared 
a Civic Center plan. I don't think so. But I do know that 
the final adoption of the east-west mall was the responsibility 
of the chief administrative officer of the county--! 'm trying 
to think of his name. 

LASKEY: Was it [C. Erwin] Piper, was he it? 

MARTIN: Not Piper; he was the city. This was [Arthur Will], 
the C.A.O. [chief administrative officer] , and his son [Arthur 
Will, Jr.], who became the C.A.O. over the county later on. 
But it was he that had the persuasion and the strength to 
settle the alignment of the Civic Center Mall in an east-west 
direction, and at that time the court's buildings were 


constructed several blocks to the west. But this is much 

later than the early considerations of the City Hall. It was 

built in a time before there was great technical research in 

the construction of earthquake [-proof ] buildings. Frank 

Lloyd Wright had designed the [Imperial] Hotel in Tokyo, 

I believe, which had withstood some great shocks, and at that 

time my father, who was the engineering-oriented person, 

performed many studies as to the fundamentals that should be 

involved in City. Hall construction. One feature that is not 

talked about is that the central tower rests on a gigantic 

pad of a foundation of reinforced concrete, some eight feet 

thick, covering the entire area of the tower itself. And 

like a pendulum, that mass of concrete causes the tower to 

act in synchronization with the movement of the earth in an 

earthquake, because it's homogeneous. . 

LASKEY: How deep is that? 

MARTIN: That's down below the level of the garage and 

whatever rooms are underneath that garage. There's two 

levels of garage there now. Furthermore, their design 

included a weakened plane joint at each floor line in the tower, 

which is in effect a compressible joint between the terra-cotta 

stones of the outside. That was caulked with a compressible 

mastic. The idea was that as the tower moved in an earthquake, 

like a spine, the stones would remain intact, and the movement 

would be taken by the joints. And one can observe that if 


they look carefully. I'm not certain whether it's been 
concealed now with the recaulking that has taken place in 
recent years, but it is a feature that was there. 

Other things of interest about the City Hall include a 
kind of a sad thing that used to happen in construction in 
those days, where safety features were not as important as 
they are today. The death of men working on the structure 
was often referred to as "we'll lose one man per million dollars," 
and that sticks in my mind, which I learned as a boy. I don't 
believe that the City Hall had five men killed, but it had 
several men 'killed. One of them was tragic. In the corner of 
the tower, there are elevator shafts, and at " the top of the 
City Hall there's kind of a gallery. And the elevator shaft 
in the southeast corner was, during construction, an open 
shaft, and one of the workmen thought the elevator was there 
and took his wheelbarrow and himself and walked right into 
the hole and [the fall] killed him. Whereas this is a little 
bit of a sad note,- it tells a little bit about some of the 
usual problems of the danger of construction, which we have 
today; we have people that don't quite make it through the 
construction process. Hopefully we are safer today than they 
were in those days. 

There were some artists, and I wish I could recall their 
names, that were prominent in the decor of the City Hall, 
sculptors as well as painters. They're in the record. But 


they were prominent, and I'm sure it should be said that the 
fine arts part of the design of the City Hall was complemented 
with the full spirit of the design of the architects and the 
elected officials of the day. And today it stands there as a 
fine demonstration of the art. 

LASKEY: I assume that the lifting of the height limit was 
largely due to your father's proficiency or [his] being able 
to persuade them about the safety of the building. 
MARTIN: From a safety point of view, I believe that that's 
true. From the standpoint of the design, I believe the other 
architects as well as my father were very much in agreement 
that it should be unique and tall. About that time there were 
other buildings, one of them by [Bertram] Goodhue, and I'm not 
sure whether this was before the Los Angeles City Hall or not, 
but the state capitol in Nebraska, I think, it is, is a tov/er 
similar to the City Hall, but not as classic as the City Hall. 
So towers were part of the heritage, architectural heritage, 
of American cities, as they were certainly in the Renaissance 
period of European cities, where often there were bell towers, 
but there were towers that were representative of the unions 
and the city governments and so forth all through Europe. 
Certainly the classical Renaissance character of the City Hall 
was really returning to the cities after there was the period 
of revolt against the classics that was demonstrated so well 
in the fair of 189 3 in Chicago, where the [Louis] Sullivan 


and [Henry] Richardson influence was prominent. So there 
were many banks and neoclassic-type structures, and the City 
Hall was one of them. 

LASKEY : How did three architects like Parkinson, Austin, and 
your father, who were each a force in themselves, how did they 
work together to create a design? 

MARTIN: Well, John Parkinson was a noted designer. His son 
was coming along, and he was also well trained in design. 
That was Donald Parkinson. Also there was a gentleman by 
the name of [Austin] Whittlesey that I believe was very 
prominent in the design. My father was really proud of 
the design and a good contributor, and he probably covered 
the engineering aspects of the trio. John Austin was the 
president of the Chamber of Commerce and the politician, the 
arranger; and of course he did a beautiful job. He was a 
very suave, capable architect. So they were an excellent team 
and I believe performed the job without friction. 
LASKEY: Do you remember when it was opened? Do you remember 
the opening of City Hall? 

MARTIN: Not the ceremony. I remember the time and I remember 
something about the existence of sculpture and painting and 
I remember particularly that the granite which clads the lower 
floors of the City Hall was a California granite and it was 
from the McGilvary quarries in the lower Sierra area, inland 
from Fresno. And that quarry supplied this light gray granite 


to many of the buildings in San Francisco. 

LASKEY : When City Hall was built, was the old courthouse 
still standing, the old red stone courthouse? 
MARTIN: I believe it was, and I believe it was torn down 
after City Hall was opened, but I'm not sure of that. I don't 
recall any of the activity in the removal of the old City 
Hall. It's too bad that it's gone, but that's the way it was; 
it was of course condemned and not usable. 

LASKEY: Wasn't there a feeling at the time that City Hall was 
built that this was a spectacular building, that this was 
something that was going to become, as it- has, a symbol of 
Los Angeles? That it was an extraordinary — 

MARTIN: Most certainly. It was the tall building, it was a 
building that could stand alone. It became the representative 
of the image of the city of Los Angeles; I can recall there 
were many paintings, advertisements, perhaps from the Chamber 
of Commerce, where you would see the City Hall with a background 
of the snowcapped mountains and the orange trees in the fore- 
ground. And that really was very symbolic of what existed 
at that time, because the orange trees were not far away, 
in Pasadena and Monrovia and so forth, and the Whittier area. 

Of course the mountains are the same. So I would say, yes, it 
accomplished what it was intended to do: it became a symbol 
of Los Angeles that was used extensively by the convention 
bureaus and the visitors' bureau and the Chamber of Commerce 


and such groups. 

LASKEY: I've seen a lot of pictures of City Hall when it 

had the Lindbergh dome, or the Lindbergh light, at the top. 

When was that put on, do you remember? 

MARTIN: I'd forgotten about that. Yes, I don't know what's 

happened with that. 

LASKEY: It's not working any more, obviously, but I think 

it was there for-- I think it was there when I came out here, 

which was in the 1950s. 

MARTIN: I think it was there, too, and the name of it. I'd 

forgotten all about that. 

LASKEY: About the same time that your father was working on 

City Hall, he also was working on or had completed St. Vincent's 

Church, which was another landmark building. 

MARTIN: Yes. I think St. Vincent's Church, like the City Hall, 

was one of the bright spots of my father's practice. A cute 

story connected with it-- that this was Doheny ' s fire escape-- 

always sticks in my mind, because Doheny, Edward Doheny, gave 

the money for the church, which was, I believe, $1 million, and 

at that time he was having great trouble with the Teapot Dome 

scandal, and so the word was that this was Doheny ' s bailout. 

But that church of course was also a classic, and I personally 

drive by it often and observe really the beautiful techniques, 

balance, architectural balance of the detail. And I remember 

as a boy going down there and going to the sculptor's shack. 


where he was modeling all the detail in clay, which was before 

the casting of the stone. And there was a lot of cast stone. 

I can almost name the sculptor, but it slips me again; he was 

one of the prominent sculptors in the Southland that did that 


LASKEY: Now, [John B.] Smeraldi did the painting, right? 

the ceiling painting? 


LASKEY: We'll check on who the sculptor was; I think we can 

find that. 

MARTIN: Yes. The sculptor, I'm sure it's in the records. 

But the church is certainly a beautiful thing, and it is today. 

It has done very well in the earthquakes, even though there 

has been some damage. You wouldn't know it if you look at 

it today. I think the quality of the materials is very well 

exemplified today as you observe its beautiful character — the 

tile in the dome and the nature of the cast stone, the tower, 

and so forth. 

LASKEY: Did your father model it after any specific church 

or style? 

MARTIN: Yes, it's been said that one of the Mexican churches, 

and I can't recall [from] what city, was the inspiration to 

my father and his architectural group. And I can't for sure 

name the person in the office that did the detail of the design; 

I don't think it was Harry Veale. But a great deal of inspiration 


came from this one Mexican church, a great deal of similarity. 

I believe the execution was a beautiful job of interpreting 

the inspiration of the other church, and I wish I knew the 

name of the church. 

LASKEY : One of the interesting things about St. Vincent's 

is the siting of it on that corner, which does a lot, I think, 

to show the church off. 

MARTIN: Yes. The diagonal positioning of it does just that. 

And it really relates the church, not only to the intersection, 

but it relates the church to the property [Chester Place] at 

the back of the church so well, where there were some fine 

residences, including the Doheny residence. It's, I think, 

an outstanding piece of architecture, and it's been 

recognized as such. 

LASKEY: Is it Spanish colonial or Spanish Renaissance? 

How would you characterize it? 

MARTIN: Well, I really can't say or comment on the refinement 

to that extent. I think it's Spanish Renaissance, because the 

Spanish colonial was really much more local. But I really 

am not equipped to discuss that refinement. 

LASKEY: Your father, then, really had two churches on 

West Adams, and it sort of embraced the whole wonderful 

elegant area that was West Adams at the turn of the century 

and the twenties, with the Christian Science church down by . 

Hoover [Street] and then St. Vincent's up at Figueroa [Street]. 


MARTIN: Yes. I don't know his role in the Christian Science 
church. I know he designed the dome, and I just don't know 
that he did the entire structure. He must have been highly 
involved, but I just don't know. There might have been 
someone else associated on that Christian Science church. 
LASKEY: Well, was the dome done — The Christian Science 
church was built in 1908, and I see dates for the dome sometime 
later than that. Do you recall-- Obviously it was started 
before you were born, and when the dome was put on you would 
have been very young, but I wonder if you have any remembrance 
or if you know if it was done at a different time. 
MARTIN: I have no remembrance of it, and the remembrance 
that I have was his pride in designing what was the largest 
single-shelled dome in the area, and maybe a broader area than 
local. But he was very proud of the design, and this harks 
back to the discussion of his interest, in his history as 
a brilliant engineer from the University of Illinois, in 
reinforced concrete. It shows up through his work there, 
shows up through his unique solution to Grauman's Million 
Dollar Theatre in the balcony, and for that matter it was part 
of his whole practice and his life, this really dealing with 
all the structural parts of a building with the same feeling 
as he dealt with the aesthetic parts. And I would say that 
dealing with the organic quality of the design is still, in 
this firm, one of the strong philosophies of design that 


remains today, that the structure of the building is as much 

a part of the architecture as the superficial expressions of 

the exterior. It follows right on through all of our work. 

I've been inspired by that, and my brother, Ed, and David is 

very much inspired by that; and so it comes down through the 


LASKEY : Was it something that your father ever talked about, 

particularly, or was it something that was sort of taught to 


MARTIN: No, I was-- I think' that he practiced automatically 

as an architect with his great sympathy for the structural 

integrity. As I came along, I realized that, of course, 

but my training included a transitional period between the 

beaux arts school of design and the Bauhaus trends. The 

Bauhaus trends of course were structure and lack of 

ornamentation and a complete breakaway. So my training 

included that element of the design in a very strong way, and 

as I grew and observed the work in Holland and Germany — and 

France, for that matter--l was very sympathetic to the importance 

of the total composite molding of the building structure into 

what we may call architecture. But it was there with my 

father, and very strongly. 

LASKEY: Well, that same feeling about structure and design 

and engineering that you were talking about certainly leads 

us right back to City Hall. 


MARTIN: Very much so. The things about City Hall that we have 

talked about this morning include a great concern for the 

stability of the structure and ways it could be built to 

withstand earthquakes. 

LASKEY: Plus, all your father's background in reinforced 

concrete and steel, and that whole body of experimentation and 


MARTIN: Absolutely. 

LASKEY: — that ended up being City Hall. 

MARTIN: So it's a very proper reflection, I would say. 

LASKEY: What was the Albert C. Martin firm like in 1920, 

how large was it? 

MARTIN: It was about one hundred people located on the 

second floor of the Higgins Building, which he built in 1909 

for Thomas Higgins. The building housed the Catholic diocese 

office; at that time I believe Bishop [John J.] Cantwell was 

in residence, as far as the office is concerned, at the Higgins 

Building. The office at that time was a composite of archi-ects 

and structural engineers and specification people. It was 

managed by a man by the name of McArthur, who was a very 

capable person, perhaps given to extravagances in operations, 

which became a point of contention later on, as the Depression 

came along. I would say it was very well run, and the 

construction documents that were produced were excellent 

because there were people like Mr. Tom Gilbert, Mr. Norman 


Patten, Harry Veale, Joe Longueville, finally, and others 
that were very talented architects and engineers. 

I remember particularly working there as a young boy, 
running a duplicating machine which was for the purpose of 
duplicating specifications and forms. It was a ditto machine, 
with purple ink and a jelly-like roll that would hold the ink, 
and many an hour would be spent there with that. I also 
remember the sample room that was adjacent to the specifi- 
cation department, I use the word department a little loosely; 
but the sample room was excellent, and I remember the walls, 
like a library, were lined with shelves with samples of 
materials (which is common practice today) . The drafting rooms 
were open, and they were scattered all over the second floor, 
really, as business would be good or bad. 

There was a lot of work being done for the diocese at 
that time, churches and schools, including Immaculate Heart 
College, which I think was done in the Depression days. I'm 
not sure of the date of that. 

LASKEY: One other thing that I see was being done at that 
time was the Desmond's Building, down at South Broadway, 
which is a little jewel. 

MARTIN: Oh, yes. The Desmond Building was really ornate 
and represented the feeling of fashion in those days. He 
was a good friend of Mrs. [Daniel J.] Desmond. His brother- 
in-law was at that time a window decorator in the Desmond 


organization; that was Bill Vaughey, who later became the men's 

buyer in the European circles and so forth. Desmond's was 

the ultimate in men's fashion. But that building was elegant. 

LASKEY: It still is. 

MARTIN: I worked there as a boy, a runner on the main floor 

during the summer, several summers. And I always remember 

the marble floors and the people that were merchants, a very 

select group. Desmond's was really an outstanding institution, 

and the building is still there, 

LASKEY: The upper part is being used for artists' lofts, 

apparently very successfully. I don't know what's happened 

to the lower part, if any of the marble might still be under 

the false floors. 

MARTIN: Yes, it probably is. 

LASKEY: Hopefully, someday someone will restore those things 

or get back to them. 

MARTIN: It was very ornate, which was the expression of the 


LASKEY: It's certainly a unique building, down on South 

Broadway. There's none other like it. 

MARTIN: It probably doesn't get the credit that it should get. 

LASKEY. I think it's wonderful, one of my favorites. This 

is sort of apart from the discussion we're having, but it 

seems like a good time to bring it in. You were discussing 

the men that worked for your father, and I wonder how he or 


you deal with aspiring architects. How do architects who 
design for you get credit for their design, or how do they feel 
about a firm getting credit for a design that they've done? 
I mean, I'm certain that this is a standard architectural 
procedure, or a problem. I just wondered how it's handled, 
how you deal with it. 

MARTIN: It's a very important subject. Our innermost 
feeling, that is of myself, to start with, and my brother, 
Ed, and David, and now Chris [Christopher], as partners, is 
that our staff should be given complete recognition for 
their contributions. It is often the case that even when 
it's controversial, where I will personally give credit to 
those that conceived of the design — The process of designing 
things, I believe, includes those that conceive of ideas 
and those that encourage them to develop those ideas . I 
think the latter is the case in our practice. Even though 
all of us have designed things on our own, I would say 
that our very best work has come from those that have 
very great talent in the conceptual process and our own 
input into the design to make it happen and to refine it 
or modify it or change it. That's the nature of the process. 

There is, however, a strong mood that is always part of 
the day-to-day operations of the firm, and that is the desire 
on our part for the world to know that we are one organization, 
that we're one group, and that the process of design includes 

not only the architectural conceptual work and the detailing 
and the refinement of it, but includes this organic quality 
of all the systems, but playing the role that by their very 
nature are part of the design. Today we have the importance 
of the mechanical electrical systems, always we have the 
importance of the structural concept, and so it is a practice 
which includes a rather homogeneous attack on the whole 
substance of the building and /or the plan. And more and more 
in our urban design, we introduce things of external 
influence, such as void space surrounding the building and the 
void space of the urban complex. So we desire to give credit 
to those that should have credit, and we do so in public 
declaration, but when it comes to the architect and/or 
engineer of record, we hold very strongly to the single entity 
of Albert C. Martin and Associates, Architects and Engineers 
and, I should say. Planners. 

LASKEY: Well, do you have an expectation, then, if a brilliant 
architect becomes part of your firm, that he will eventually 
leave and go off and establish himself as an individual or as 
his own firm? Is this an expectation, or — ? 
MARTIN: Well, we realize that it can happen and does. We 
endeavor to control our thought processes and our relationship 
with our staff, to involve them. And we give them credit, with 
the hope that they would find a permanent practice in the 
organization of Albert C. Martin and Associates. The existence 


of a partnership which is a family partnership can be looked 
upon as negative to this on the one hand, but as a strength 
on the other. The strength being the responsibility that 
is inherent in a family partnership, as compared to the 
responsibility that is not inherent in a collection of strange 
people — wrong word — of a collective group of architects 
and/or engineers who want to practice together. All one has 
to do is look at history and one will find that there have 
been successful partnerships of individuals but [that] they 
eventually have broken away and that singleness and cohesion 
has disappeared. We have kept Albert C. Martin and Associates 
together, and we are anticipating that we will stay together 
at least for another, let's say, forty, fifty years because 
of the way we have structured it. 

This is not to say in any sense that top architects and 
engineers cannot have a very complete practice, with full 
recognition that they are highly professional and should have 
credit. For example, we introduce our top people into clubs. 
They are members of the California Club or the Jonathan Club 
or the Chamber of Commerce, and we treat them just as if they 
are a partner, and there will be more and more of that. So 
your fundamental question of a brilliant young architect 
coming here and then going on his own is a good question, 
but I believe there are some very substantial arguments for 
the collective practice, where this young man can design 


important structures here , whereas if he goes out onto his 
own he cannot design important structures because he's 
unknown. And of course the practice today is more a collec- 
tivism than ever before, a collectivism of talents; and if 
you really look at it, a person like myself is an organizer 
of people of different skills in such a way that the end 
product emerges, hopefully, in an optimum way. 
LASKEY: And of course the facilities that you have as an 
organization here, which you are able to pass on to your 
architects and planners, an individual is not likely to have 
the sorts of facilities you have. 

MARTIN: Just couldn't afford them. We have a million dollars' 
worth of computers, you know, and extensive talents in 
engineering and planning. That's true, he couldn't do it. 
I'm not saying that he can't make it, because architects do, 
and more credit to them. But in today's world, which is 
influenced by the complicated corporate structure in the 
business world, today's world includes many more complications 
than when my father practiced, many more. I think he worried 
just as much, but the process is much more complicated, 
especially with the introduction of computer-aided design, 
which is big in our firm right now. This is an evolution 
of the modular concept of uniting units of materials into 
what is a kind of a building structure. 


FEBRUARY 4, 19 81 

LASKEY: So in a sense, then, architecture in itself has 
become so complicated today that it's to the advantage, in 
many cases, of an individual architect to be part of a corporate 

MARTIN: I believe that to be true. I know that individuals ^ 
can develop a unique name as an architect, and we have some 
in the city. They do unique buildings, and sometimes they 
are great pieces of architecture; but the major planning and 
architectural designs emanate from the collective group of 
architects and sometimes architects and engineers. So, 
therefore, the leadership of that process becomes the 
principal challenge of the architect. 

LASKEY: Sort of getting back to the 1920s, there was one 
other influence in this time in your father's career, which 
was the beginning of his association with the May Company. 
MARTIN: My father, of course, was associated with the 
Hamburgers [Asher Hamburger and Sons] before the May Company, 
and he designed the original Hamburger Building. He '.vas the 
engineer for it when he was working for [Alfred F.] Rosenheim, 
Later, halfway through the design, they had to disassociate 
Rosenheim from the job, and they awarded the completion of 
the job to my father. That was the start. That was probably 
1906, because he was married in 1907, and I think he had 


completed the design. He added units to the May Company, 
and Claude Beelman was given one of the units of the Mav 
Company to design. 

LASKEY: Now, are we talking about the structure down on 
Eighth — ? 

MARTIN: Eighth and Hill [Streets]. So this was before the 
May Company purchased Hamburger's. Colonel [David] May came 
out with his two sons, Tom [Thomas] and Morton, and introduced 
them to my father and he was generally their archetect for many 
years, even though Claude Beelman did some of the work because 
of the influence of the Union Bank. So the May Company 
building program with branch stores didn't start until about 
the time I came into the office, because I worked on the May 
Company Wilshire, and that would have been about 1940, I 
believe. There were always things being done in the downtown 
store, however, and Dad's relationship was good. Later on, 
that account developed into a large account because we did some, 
I believe, fourteen to seventeen branch shopping centers-- 
Lakewood, Crenshaw, the [San Fernando] Valley, San Diego, 
one of the others out here. West Covina-- 
LASKEY: Eastland, 

MARTIN: Eastland, yes. And I guess others. So I was 
greatly involved in that account, to the extent that I was 
involved in the design of Mr. May's home and subsequently 
David May's home, along with Sam [Samuel A.] Marx in the case 


of Mr. Tom May, who was Tom May's brother-in-law and a very 

prominent Chicago architect. Extremely capable. 

LASKEY: You were a fairly young boy at this time. 

MARTIN: In the twenties? 

LASKEY: Yes, You were probably in prep school? 

MARTIN: I went to Villanova [Preparatory] School in the 

Ojai Valley in 1923 and spent four years there. That was 

about the time of the Depression, the start of the Depression. 

LASKEY: You were- in prep school, then, when the Depression 


MARTIN: I was in prep school, and the financial situation was 

very difficult at my father's practice, extremely so, because 

the Depression, which was 1929, I believe, wiped him out and ' 

many of his properties, like the Fourteenth and Hill corner, 

like the Hohm Building at Sixth and Western [Avenue] , where 

he was a partial owner with Harry Hitchcock, Fred O'Brien, 

and Mr. Healy. The office was losing money, and it was my 

mother's estate that saved the office. She sold her ranch 

to her daughter, my sister, for some $35,000, which went in to 

save the office from bankruptcy. My father saved the homeplace 

at Seventh and Catalina, 712 [So. Catalina] , and he saved 

the Riverside ranch, which my brother and I now own and 

which has such a great future. 

But the Depression was very hard on the family because 
we had a large — We had six children, four girls and two boys. 


and we were all either in prep school or university, at USC, 
and the costs were heavy. Mother and Dad sacrificed, probably 
we'll never know how much so, and we all made it through the 

LASKEY: All six of you? 

MARTIN: All six. Even though we worked part time ourselves 
to help get through. But my last year of Villanova Prep 
School, my bachelor uncle helped pay my tuition; that is, my 
uncle Will Borchard, and he came through and helped in that 
way. My father, incidentally, was the architect for Villanova 
Prep School in the Ojai Valley. So back in the twenties, 
that was one of those projects that was related to the 
Catholic diocese. 

I went to USC because my two sisters, who were ahead of 
me, Evelyn and Margaret, they were both Thetas, and one was 
the president of the house, and USC had a good school of 
architecture . 

LASKEY: Was there ever any thought of the girls going into 
architecture, were they ever considered? 

MARTIN: None that I-- I'd say no, there was no thought, no 
serious thought. 

LASKEY: No Julia Morgans in the family. 

MARTIN: No. [laughter] Evelyn was interested in literature; 
Margaret was interested in languages, German particularly; 
and Carolyn and Lucille were interested more in the arts. 

Lucille was most inclined towards art and architecture, 
LASKEY: You said before you had always assumed you were 
going to be an architect. Was this something that your father 
encouraged you to do? 

MARTIN: I think so, subliminally . I forget any particular 
incidents except that I was always involved on the fringes. 
The stories he would tell concerning his business affected 
me greatly; his pride, his extreme pride in his accomplishments, 
I'm sure, was a very motivating force. He was, after all, one 
of the prominent architects here. He was a kind of a lone 
architect, following John Parkinson, who was the prominent ■ 
architect, I would say, and Morgan, Walls, and Clements, and 
some fine firms. My father was alone as A. C. Martin, and 
he made it and did great work and was highly trusted. 
LASKEY: It's interesting that you weren't intimidated by 

MARTIN: Never had that feeling. I never had the feeling of 
any submersion at all by my father's dominance. As a matter 
of fact, if one analyzes it, I was interested in some things 
that my father didn't care about. I was more interested 
in the architectural planning and detail, even though my 
father's works illustrate some very great capabilities. I 
know basically my father was really a builder and an engineer 
and had a fine sensitivity of design and was able to organize 
people to do the designs. Whereas I would be a little more 


inclined towards the design concepts myself and did very well 

in the university in design. 

LASKEY: Did you ever go with your father, when you were 

young, to sites or to locations? 

MARTIN: Yes, often. My life was a little bit remote 

because I was at prep school, but I did work on jobs. For 

example, I was assistant timekeeper on Polytechnic High 

School, I worked for the school board, I was a timekeeper 

on the Cord Building at Wilshire and Mariposa [Avenue] . I 

was working there for Lynch-Cannon, the contractors from 

Salt Lake. That was a story unto itself. So I really was 

kind of involved in — Oh, I also worked as a laborer on a 

church in Santa Monica, for Father [Nicholas] Conneally. 

LASKEY: St. Monica's? 

MARTIN: St. Monica's Church. 

LASKEY: That's a beautiful church. 

MARTIN: Yes, it is. I was a laborer there and worked in 

summers. So the answer is I was quite involved in the 

summertime, during high school when I was I guess old enough 

to do work like that. So my father really in a way, if you 

think about it, was training me. 

LASKEY: Sort of. 

MARTIN: Sort of. But I didn't give it — You know, it hasn't 

occurred to me that I was being processed. 

LASKEY: Well, you were being encouraged, certainly. 


MARTIN: Being encouraged sure, and I loved it, 
LASKEY: And you still do, obviously. 
MARTIN: Oh yeah, sure. 


LASKEY: Mr. Martin, you started USC in 1931, is that correct? 
MARTIN: Yes. In the school of architecture, having graduated 
from Villanova Prep School in the Ojai Valley and having been 
away from the urban area for four years, I really believe 
that when one is away from the city and from business, in 
a country-oriented prep school, that one is shielded from 
the real facts of life, and some ways it's a happy-go-lucky 
existence. My life at Villanova Prep School was one of hard 
work academically and a very intense participation in sports — 
tennis and football and basketball. It was a small school, 
so you could do almost all the sports and really enjoy it. 
LASKEY: Did you have a favorite? 

MARTIN: Oh, I suppose the favorite was football, but we had 
a fine baseball team, and we played El Monte for the 
championship of Southern California, such things; we had a 
good time. Academically speaking, I believe the education 
was reasonably good, and I was always a student and was the 
valedictorian, which pattern kind of carried on through the 
university too. But the main thing is I was oriented to 
the country life when I went to USC, and going to USC, studying 

architecture, I found that I was considerably behind those 
students that were trained in the various high schools in 
the city. They had classes in architecture and history and 
drafting that put them out way in front of me when I was a 
freshman. As a matter of fact, I think the first year in 
architecture was a struggle. 

The times were difficult. The Depression was on. 
Architecture and engineering had come to a halt, and my father 
and the family were losing their assets and were really starting 
down the road to being very poor. My father was a person 
that had an illness that would cause him to faint occasionally, 
so he always had to have a driver, and even in the depths of 
Depression somebody had to drive my father. There was a 
time the children, including myself, became the driver, and 
we would take Dad to work at Second and Main, in the 
Higgins Building, and pick him up. The business of paying the 
tuition became one of the burdens, because at that time, I 
had a sister Margaret [and] a sister Carolyn in school also. 
My sister Evelyn had gone to USC and graduated, I believe, 
in 1928. So the Martin family was starting to be well known 
as a large university family. 
LASKEY: Yes. [laughter] 

MARTIN: And eventually it turned into something. I think 
that certainly like twenty to thirty of the offspring have 
gone to USC. 


LASKEY: That must be almost a record of some sort, 

MARTIN: Well, there's some big families; I know that we're 

one of them. And there's a great spirit that exists today, 

a loyalty to the university amongst most of us. 

LASKEY: Did it ever occur to you in that time to go to UCLA, 

for example, rather than USC, because of the cost? 

MARTIN: No. My sister Evelyn did go to UCLA when it was 

up on North Vermont, and it was in I guess the middle 

twenties when they started UCLA, and UCLA was not engaged in 

the teaching of architecture, 

LASKEY: Oh, it wasn't. 

MARTIN: And as a matter of fact, today there's only the 

University of Calfiornia at Berkeley, [California Polytechnic 

State] University at San Luis Obispo, and USC that are 

accredited universities for the teaching of architecture. 

LASKEY: Really. 

MARTIN: Now UCLA has a fine school of architecture and fine 

arts, and the type of degree, I think it's slightly different 

than USC. But USC was always a strong school of architecture 

even in the early days, and that v/as the important matter. 

We did work while we were at USC. There were government 
programs which would allow us to earn money by drawing 
various pictures of various projects and drafting and things 
like that; and then of course I finally ran the university 
parking lots as a way of helping out in the last several 


years of my education. But at USC I found that I couldn't 
participate in sports because of the drag of time in the 
studies of architecture. The disadvantage that I originally 
had as a freshman competing with some of my peers slowly went 
away, and by the time I was graduated after a five-year course, 
I was the valedictorian again and I was president of the stu- 
dent body. And I guess that is something that has gone down 
through my whole life, is having the qualities of leadership, 
I suppose, which went through the American Institute of Archi- 
tects, the Chamber of Commerce, and other organizations. 

But I liked USC, and it was an interesting time because 
it was a time when there was a transition in the teaching of 
architecture from the beaux arts technique of teaching to 
include modern concepts, particularly [those] advocated by 
the Bauhaus school and, to some extent, the architects of Italy 
and France who were also moving in the area of very contempo- 
rary design. 

LASKEY: Did this create a lot of dialogue, a lot of excitement 
in the school of architecture? Did it make it more stimu- 
lating do you think? 

MARTIN: Well, without a question it was more stimulating, 
because the beaux arts technique of teaching included many 
laborious design activities, v/hich bordered on drafting and 
fine penmanship and things like that. However, I look back 
and greatly appreciate the history of architecture and the 


development of special projects which involved the classical 
designs and the classical planning. And that formality- 
still is part of my appraisal of architecture; a certain 
balance and proportion is extremely important, I miss it 
in some of the contemporary work done by younger students. 

I will say that in the attempts to grasp the meaning of 
the Bauhaus school of design and the planning activities of 
the modern technique, I felt it to be extremely difficult 
to really have a feel for the essence of architecture as 
we practice it today. This was the beginning of an entirely 
different concept of architecture. It was the beginning of 
the inclusion of the total environment in which the building 
was located. Space was as important as brick and mortar: 
the space around the buildings, the space that people walked 
through. It was truly an introduction to the whole new 
element in design — which today is natural in our urban design 
concepts — where the management of the whole design process 
includes the management of the space allocation and the 
environmental factors that occur in space, whether it's 
outside or contained space. So, at that time at the university 
there was just a glimmering of this kind of discussion, which 
I believe makes it an important time in the teaching of the 
history of architecture. 

LASKEY: It was probably a social movement as much as an 
architectural movement, too — wasn't it?--what we call modernism. 


MARTIN: I think so, but I must say that the impacts that we 
observed occurring within the academic world were undefined 
to a great extent. Even though there was a social movement, 
I don't think we really talked or thought in those terms. 
What happened at that period, people like myself graduated 
and entered the design world at a time when there was no work, 
and as soon as there were a few public things like school- 
building projects coming on the scene after the Depression, 
the entire evolution was followed by war in 1942 [1941], 
December the seventh, I believe. And the war years were 
detrimental to the interests of the architects. They were 
complementary to the interests of the civil engineer, because 
in the manual of the [U.S. Army] Corps of Engineers there was 
no such word as architect , and the architect found himself in 
the camouflage area, and there were many local architects that 
ended up there, just to get a job. It kind of related to 
painting rather than building. So the civil engineer was 
the only recognized entity at the beginning of World War II, 
and that was very bad for the [architecture] profession. Now 
that changed before the war was finished, because many hospitals 
were built and temporary encampments were being built and 
planning became important. 

LASKEY: Now, it's been said that the Depression hit Los Angeles 
first and it hit it hardest but it also hit it less; that 
is, Los Angeles recovered from the Depression earlier than 


the rest of the country. Do you feel that was true? 
MARTIN: Well, I certainly do feel that was true, from 
several points of view. In the farming area--and there was 
extensive farming around Los Angeles, in Orange County and 
Pomona area, citrus, and the Ventura County area and even 
in San Fernando Valley — farming products did very well in 
some parts of the Depression and certainly in the war years, 
while the Middle West suffered tragic storms, drought. And 
that was the beginning of the emigration of people from the 
Middle West to Southern California. Those families now are 
native Calif ornians of course. 

In the war years, of course, Los Angeles was a center of 
aircraft industry. This was the beginning of a whole new 
electronic industry, and the idea of research and development 
was so big that it was a center of activity after the war. But 
during the war, Los Angeles did have industry, and the ship- 
building industry was big at San Pedro, and all the comple- 
mentary manufacturing for defense projects was at hand. So 
in the war years Los Angeles wasn't hit that hard, and, prior 
to that, I can't say whether Los Angeles, compared to other 
cities throughout the United States that had suffered during 
the Depression, I can't say that Los Angeles was not hit as 
hard as some of the others. I suspect it was hit pretty hard. 
LASKEY: It was hit very hard, especially in the beginning, 
but apparently the rise of the movie industry in the mid-thirties 


helped to bring it out [of the Depression] a little sooner 

than the rest of the country. 

MARTIN: Of course, now that you mention it, that v/as big in 

our whole concept of society, 

LASKEY: What were you doing in this time? You graduated 

from use in what, 1936? 

MARTIN: Nineteen thirty-six. Well, I was married in 1937, 

and I was employed in my father's office, in an office that 

was deteriorating rapidly due to the lack of business and 

the drifting away of the staff, to the point where there was 

probably eight or ten people in the office, as compared to 

a hundred to a hundred and ten in the twenties. We still had 

several very strong staff people: Mr. Tom Gilbert, who was 

chief draftsman, Mr. Norman Patten, who was chief structural 

engineer, Jack Sparling, Joe Longueville, Mary Sresovich, who 

ran the office, and some others. But the lack of work was 

really making it a very difficult thing for survival, and this 

was part of the thing that really broke my father, which caused 

a drain on some of his outside assets, v/hich were eventually 

lost, with the exception of the homeplace at 712 Sourh Catalina 

Street and the Riverside ranch, which had no indebtedness and 

no mortgages levied against it. 

So just keeping the office open was a task that was 
almost insurmountable. My mother sold her inheritance, 
which was a farm in Oxnard of a hundred and twenty acres or 


so, for a very small amount. She happened to sell it to 
her daughter, my sister Margie Daily, for a ridiculous 
amount of money, I think something like $30,000, which money 
went to the office to keep it open. And that $30,000 parcel 
in those days would probably be worth today like $4 million. 
That shows comparatively what has happened. 

But, in any case, it was a case of survival, and my 
father's health was not good. When things were idle, a great 
many people in the business world would attempt to enjoy their 
hard times by collecting with each other for luncheon, and 
sometimes it involved drinking, and that was not a good 
influence in the whole picture. It was a pretty dim picture 
at times. That dim picture of the many facets of the Depression 
had a big effect on myself and the older daughters of the 
family and my mother. It just was depressing, and it 
involved not only the points of survival, but the points of 
maintaining my father's health, which v;as a very difficult 
thing. So between physical handicaps and excessive drinking, 
between the loss of business and-- It was a low time. 

When I went to work in '37, things were picking up, 
and some of my father's older clients, like Union Hardware, 
Ducommuns, and some of the industrial group, were starting 

to build buildings. And so I had an opportunity in about 1938 
to design those buildings, and they have been good buildings. 
So that was my introduction to the design world. And the 


responsibility. Responsibility came quickly to me because 
during the war years, starting with '42, the old mainstays 
of the firm — Norman Patten, Joe Longueville, Tom Gilbert — 
left the firm and went to Alaska to work in the area of 
central Canada and/or Alaska in designing bridges and camps 
and things for Sverdrup and Parcel, who were contractors. 
After the war they returned, but I was left alone without 
technical staff, which created a very interesting thing when 
we started getting work for the Corps of Engineers. 
LASKEY: Well, it certainly must have created a challenge 
for you. 

MARTIN: Yes. And we built an organization — I did principally- 
composed of men, other architects, Herman [Charles] Light, 
Arthur Frolich, Gene Brokow, who were established architects 
that had lost their practice and had been working in Las Vegas 
on the [Hoover] Dam, which J. V. McNeil was building — I forget 
the name of the dam, right out of Las Vegas. But those 
fellows went up and designed the buildings, and then they 
were looking for work and came, and we started to have work 
for the Corps of Engineers. We built up a firm of maybe 
thirty, thirty-five people. That's when we started to survive 
again financially. 

LASKEY: I was going to say, is that when you started to 
restabilize the firm? 
MARTIN: I would say so. From then on, during the war 


and after the war, of course the big shopping center move- 
ment came on the scene, tremendous industrial expansion 
came; and we were one of the leading firms in shopping 
centers. We designed the Lakewood Center, the first 
integrated shopping center, and, oh, the Crenshaw May Company. 
Most of this work was for May Company, and the company was 
one of my father's oldest clients. So, in kind of a review, 
the time between the early thirties clear on into the 
middle forties was a time of difficulty — in survival in the 
beginning and a difficulty in organization and rebuilding 
in the end. 

LASKEY: It sounds like there were scars and wounds during 
that time, you know, and insecurities. Did it take long for 
them to heal? 

LASKEY: How about your father, did he recover fairly easily? 
MA-RTIN: My father was getting older about the time of the 
war. And his influence was substantial in securing work. 
He was a great friend of Del [E.j Webb's, and he had some 
cronies in the school board; so his contacts — and since he 
had been one of Del's closest friends on the West Coast 
(as differentiated from Phoenix) --were very important in our 
obtaining work [from] the corps. But the Corps of Engineers was 
really our source. My father's ability to lead was diminishing 
because of his age, and although he still was not that old at 


the beginning of '40 — He died in 1959 or '60, I forget, at 

the age of eighty-one; so in the forties he was sixty-one, 

which doesn't sound old to me at all. 

LASKEY: [laughter] He's just beginning! 

MARTIN: So than as time went on his health was not too bad. 

There were times when the drinking problem was serious, and 

that was — I think you used the word scars . I'm sure the 

scars were deep, even though today most of that has vanished 

in my perception of my father, which is extremely respectful 

and high at this point in time, and with all of the family. 

So the so-called scars of embarrassing situations in the 

family pretty much have gone now, and his attributes are far 

above in the memory of everyone. 

LASKEY: And his monuments. 

MARTIN: His monuments, but principally his integrity and 

his honesty. He was a dedicated person to his family, 

dedicated (that was his most important thing), and those 

attributes are the survival, as far as perception is concerned, 

He was a very brilliant rnan, actually, in architectural 

engineering, and as honest as the day is long, and that's 

why he was a success. 

LASKEY: That's probably why he survived too through the 

difficult times. 

MARTIN: I think so. His word was his bond, yes. 

Bankruptcy was unheard of, and there were many reasons why 


he should have been bankrupt, but it was dishonorable in those 
days, whereas today people will go through bankruptcy just 
to get rid of indebtedness, without thoughts of repaying it, 
but not in those days, 

LASKEY: I noticed, though, that during this period of time, 
in 1931, you did the Cord Building, your father's firm did 
it, which was certainly a great building. 

MARTIN: Yes. The Cord Building at Wilshire and Mariposa 
[Avenue] was the showroom and shops and storage for the 
Auburn and the Cord automobiles, under the direction of 
E, L. Cord, who in so many ways was a person that was ruthless 
in the management of his funds and the entire financial 
aspect of the v;hole construction process for the building. 
I was the timekeeper on the building, working for Lynch- 
Cannon, the contractor from Salt Lake, and it was at the 
depth of the Depression. I'll never forget the day that 
E. L. Cord cut the salary of the laborers from something 
like thirty-seven cents an hour to around thirty-one, and we 
had a strike on the job, and I can swear that if Mr. Cord 
had walked on the job they would have killed him. 
LASKEY: Really? 

MARTIN: They were so desperate. Men were so desperate 
that they would carry sacks of cement on their backs and 
carry it to the mixer and would develop sores on their 
back (which will not heal, cement sores just don't heal). 


and there was many of them who were in that condition, as 
I recall. So it was a very tense and difficult time, during 
the Depression, for a lot of laborers. The building, of 
course, turned out to be beautiful, and we to this day 
continue to remodel it. 


MARCH 3, 19 81 

LASKEY: There was another natural catastrophe in this time 
of great catastrophes that I think influenced your work a 
lot, and that was the 1933 earthquake at Long Beach. 
MARTIN: That was in some ways, as disastrous as it was, 
a blessing for not only architects and the contractors 
but for the industry, because it reshaped their entire 
engineering f ormulization of building construction. My father 
was an important part of the development of new techniques, 
particularly in regards to reinforced masonry construction. 
This was natural to my father because he was such an outstanding 
engineer in the management of reinforced concrete, which he 
learned at the University of Illinois. The reconstruction of 
the school system became an important part of the work that 
caused our office to survive. It was great damage to schools, 
and there ended up to be much rebuilding, but in some cases 
replacement. There were several school bonds that made it 
through for bond issues. This was really important work for 
the architects and engineers of Los Angeles. 

So that catastrophe of the Long Beach earthquake 
resulted in new school work, in some cases some outstanding 
designs related to improve planning techniques, like lighting; 
never was there so much attention given to the importance of 
lighting and specular glare and glare from the dome of the 


sky and such things as that. The California schoolhouses 
were formed and shaped to take advantage of daylight, with 
skylights and other devices on the north side and with louvers 
and long overhangs on the south side, with much more intensity 
than we have today. 

As a matter of fact, there was much more attention 
given to the detailing of buildings in those days than we 
give them today. So many things today are shop-fabricated 
and inserted within our buildings as a completed matter. 
If you think for a minute: the exterior walls, the windows, 
the floor systems are all shop-fabricated and placed on the 
building. But at the time I was educated, you invented all 
these new forms, such as extruded aluminum frames for windov;s . 
Those were invented by people like myself — that is, the actual 
configuration of the section, with its matter of waterproofing 
and matter of assembly. So it was common for us to design 
special moldings of aluminum extrusions for such things as 
show windows, window sections. And all of those came from 
the architects. Today you buy them out of a catalog; there's 
a great difference in the approach. But today's architecture 
is more with the planning and the environment. in those days 
the architecture dealt with the detailing of buildings and 
the planning of buildings. It's an amazing difference. 
LASKEY: How do you feel about that? 
MARTIN: Well, I feel that the transition to more environmental 


matters, given the whole space, is a magnificent movement. 
I regret the loss of sensitivity in detailing very much. 
And it's almost like the lost art of cabinetmakers: it's gone 
and our young people don't really understand it, although 
some of them do. I regret that, but, on the other hand, 
when we think of architecture today we think of the total 
role of environment for people, as distinguished from 
buildings with historic reflections in the structure and 
in the ornamentation of the buildings. That's almost a thing 
of the past. But we have such wonderful new things evolving, 
things such as spaces for public, rooftop parks; in the city 
we have two- and three-level spaces for pedestrians, for 
separating the people from the automobile. And this offers 
some very exciting choices for urban living, and that's 
what a city really is: it's a place of many choices for 
people to live in, as contrasted with suburban living, which 
has its merits but which are somewhat limited. 

So I think the transition which has been so great 
during my practice, from the beaux arts clear on through 
to — For the last fifty years, we have had — We have gone 
from the Depression, the elimination of the beaux arts, the 
introduction of modern architecture, particularly from 
Europe, the Dutch architects in the vicinity of Hilversum, 
the Bauhaus, we've gone through a war, the reindustrialization, 
the development of the suburban shopping center, the new town 


planning, the great return to the urban core, the evolution 
of large banking interests and all of the support facilities 
for banking, the evolution of large government centers, with 
all of their support, and at this point in time we are 
continuing the redevelopment of the central cities at a 
rapid pace and looking forward, long-range, to architecture 
in space, which will happen. 
LASKEY: Do you really think it will? 

MARTIN: Oh, I think so, a certain kind, not lots of 
people; but after all, next month we launch our first space 
vehicle, you know, a vehicle that can return to Earth and 
that will be just like a big truck going out in there, taking 
with it things that will be permanently hooked up in space. 
LASKEY: Two thousand and one isn't that far away. 
tlARTIN: Not that far away. Where we'll have probably new 
forms of energy, maybe related to laser fusion and other 
forms of fusion that will provide power. So I think that 
the twentieth century will provide some of the most advanced 
steps in the history of man, when you think that we go from 
the whole evolution of travel, from the horse and buggy to 
travel in space, the evolution of architecture from brick 
and mortar and classical adaptations into environmental 
concerns wherein [we contain] the people and the functions 
with [in] comfort-creating environments rather than building 
buildings. It's a whole different concept when you contain 


people in some kind of a form to do that function or create 
that comfort in the environment, as building of brick and mortar 
into classical forms [does]. It's a big difference, and that's 
happened in the twentieth century. Of course in medicine and 
science and computers and electronic devices--all of these 
things have happened this century. So what comes next is 
going to be a fascinating venture into the imagination. I 
think it's gonna be related to a new form of personal commu- 

LAS KEY : Well, there seems to be in architecture, at least 
in the sort of post-modern architecture, a reversion back to 
classical forms, much, much more modified, of course, but a 
reaction against the Miesian boxes. I think of your own 
building, the Security Pacific [World Headquarters], which 
[David] Gebhard and [Robert] Winter have described as a return 
to beaux arts . 

MARTIN: It is. It is, and it contains some false elements 
that bother me, even though it's a beautiful form. The 
hollow columns on the outside to me represent a misuse of 
contemporary materials. 
LASKEY : Really? 

MARTIN: As compared to ARCO [Atlantic Richfield Tower], which 
is not that was at all. ARCO is a more honest building than 
Security Pacific, in my estimation. 
LASKEY: Really? Now, ARCO is almost pure Bauhaus . 


MARTIN: It is, but the ARCO frame, the cladding of the frame, 

of granite, the magnificent eight-foot-by-eight-foot window, 

is perhaps the most organized design that we've ever participated 

in. Security Pacific, as beautiful as it is as a design, with 

its columnar classic proportion, contains those architectural 

exaggerations, I believe, that were done to create a classical 

form rather than to have a simple building assemblage. So 

I really don't feel that good about the Security Pacific 

design, as compared to the Bauhaus or even the new Wells 

Fargo Building, which is pure modern stainless skin. I think 

the purest form of all is the Department of Water and Power 

[Building] . 

LASKEY : I was about to ask you about that building. 

MARTIN: I don't think there's any building in the city that 

touches it for its elegance, which is the simple expression 

of plates, of the floor plates, and the translucent wall, 

and that's it. But it does a job next to its neighbors, with 

the classic pavilions and the theaters, does a job of 

creating a cohesion between all of those things. 

LASKEY: How did you hit upon that design? You had, I assume, 

to create something that blended with the Music Center [of Los 

Angeles County], which I think was already built at that time. 

MARTIN: Yes. It was in the process. Well, we felt strongly 

that we had an obligation to design a building which would 

not dominate the [Dorothy] Chandler Pavilion, which was 


classical, like the Parthenon. Our solution of having a 
translucent building with a very simple horizontal expression 
of the floors gave a perfect complement to the classical 
columns of the pavilion, and as you look at them today they 
are companions of two different eras of design. But it was 
the translucency and the simplicity of the horizontal plate 
design, and the use of the building emanating from water was 
pretty nice. 
LASKEY: Beautiful. 

MARTIN: So I think that the Department of Water and Power 
is one of the best buildings that we've ever done. 
LASKEY: Reyner Banham, I suppose you know, in his book 
[ Los Angeles : ] The Architecture of Four Ecologies , says it's 
by far and away the best building in downtown Los Angeles, 
the most perfect Southern California building. But how do 
you feel about their not using the pools? 

MARTIN: Oh, I feel badly that they don't use the pools and/or 
the lights, because that building kind of is illuminated 
indirectly; it's really one of the most pleasant urban 
experiences that we have. The indirect lights were wasteful, 
but the building lights themselves were a practical way of 
heating the building. There is no boiler in that building 
at all, and we heated the building with our lighting system, 
which was a first time. We actually invented the lighting 
fixtures, which are now standard, with the return air cooling 


the balance of the lighting fixtures. And we invented the 
partition system, which has proven to be a very flexible 
partition, and it's now standard. So those things, like 
many of the other things, many other details, emanated from 
the creative thrust of architects that were in our own 
office. A great many things have emanated from this office. 
LAS KEY : Getting back to the fountains again: I was 
wondering, in reading about the building, I had understood 
that the fountains actually were part of the cooling system 
of the building and that they were created as an energy-saving 
device rather than an energy-wasting device. 

MARTIN: They were, and they are. They replace part of the 
water-cooling system for the air conditioning. It's a 
water-spray idea, and so the cooling effect of the fountains 
helps to reduce the temperature of the water. Now, we do 
have induced draft coolers, water towers on the roof, also. 
But the rationale and in fact the practical end of it, the 
fountains were playing a role, not only aesthetically 
speaking, but practically speaking. 

LAS KEY : Just to get back a little bit to where we started 
in the thirties: you were married in 1937, shortly right 
after you got out of school. You also took a trip to Europe. 
When was that? 

MARTIN: Well, right after I graduated. 
LASKEY: Right after. 


MARTIN: A young man by the name of Marvin Summerf ie Id, 
who was a college classmate, and myself went to Europe 
to broaden our understanding of architecture and to partic- 
ipate in the whole life of the Europeans, and that was a 
very important thing in my life. This was still the depths 
of the Depression. I had, through my early days of being 
a paperboy, had saved $525, and that plus some more advanced 
by my family--and I don't know where they got the money--paid 
for my trip, which lasted five and a half months. Of course 
we were poor-boying it all along, but we had a great time. 
LASKEY: You could do that in Europe, I think, at that time. 
MARTIN: Yes. Even though we bought a car in England on 
a repurchase guarantee plan, but it didn't cost us a lot, 
of course. Then things had to be getting better, because 
when I came back across the United States I picked up a new 
car for my family, so things were on the rise in 1935-37. 
I think they had to do the work for the school board. 
LASKEY: Now, had you met your wife in college? 
MARTIN: I met her in my own home, because she was a sorority 
sister of my sisters, who were Kappa Alpha Thetas. And so when 
I returned from Europe I met her there, fell in love with 
her, and proposed to her. Immediately after that she 
went to Europe with the Harry [G.] Johansing family, and so 
when she returned we sure enough did get married. It was 
interes ting--we look back on it today--I was making $125 a month. 


LASKEY : A month. 

MARTIN: A month. And we were paying $42 for rent, and I want 
you to know that we were broke all the time. [laughter] That 
condition remained for at least five years; we never had 
saved a penny. And the salaries didn't increase very much 
either. But we did have an automobile; we were given an 
automobile by my parents for our wedding anniversary. And 
it really wasn't until after we got work during the wartime 
that that condition changed, where we started-- I remember 
my father, the firm made $30,000 one year profit, and I shared 
in that with my dad a little bit. Of course later on it 
changed completely. Our beginning years in married life were 
frugal, for many years. 
LASKEY: What is your wife's name? 

MARTIN: Dorothy Dolde. She was born in Orlando, Florida. 
Her mother [Virginia Dolde] died when Dorothy was two, and she 
was then reared by her grandmother [Mrs.- Willie Young] in 
Marshall, Missouri. Her mother had gone to St. Mary-of -the-Woods 
[College] in Indiana, and then Dorothy did the same thing for 
two years before she came out to USC. 
LASKEY: How did she happen to come to USC? 
MARTIN: Well, her father. Chuck Dolde, was a banker with 
the Bank of America and operated the Wilshire-Robertson 
branch, which was big in those days. Then he moved to 
Whittier and worked in one of the local banks, after which 


he formed his own small- town bank, and he formed several banks 
before he died. But he was a Phi Psi and knew the people from 
Kansas University. Kind of a spirited man, and so he knew 
the local Phi Psis, and his daughter had to go to USC. So 
as it happened — and I was a Kappa Alpha at 'SC--instead of 
our sons being Kappa Alphas they all became Phi Psis. 

LASKEY: Shows you where the influence is. 
MARTIN: That's right. 
LASKEY: OK, suppose we stop here for now. 

SECOND PART (MARCH 18, 19 81) 

LASKEY: Mr. Martin, you've said that it never occurred to 

you not to be an architect. Did it ever occur to you not 

to work for your father? 

MARTIN: No, it never did occur to me to be employed by 

somebody else or even to be employed on my own. There was 

a strong attachment and great pride in not only my father 

but the office. The office was considered a certain individual 

entity in the minds of our family; everything was done for the 

office, so to speak. Of course the office was the livelihood 

of the family, and the office included the financial interest 

of my mother, which was mentioned before. 


Also, there was an attachment on my part to somewhat of 
the survival of my father, not that I had anything to do 
with his physical survival, but there was the need for taking 
care of certain situations. That was felt on the part of the 
older children in the family also. We'd drive for my father 
when things were very low economically speaking. So once I 
got into the first challenges of the management of certain 
projects, I kept going into not only management but the 
building of the firm as far as new employees were concerned. 
And that happened during the war, where we had difficulty 
in keeping our doors open and some of our staff went to 
Canada and Alaska. 

LASKEY: Was this because there was not an availability 
of materials for building during the war? 
MARTIN: No, it was not so much that, even though that 
did exist; it was because the type of work was all war-related, 
such as temporary hospitals, airstrips with hangars, office 
buildings related to the operation of the airfields. We in 
effect became hospital experts, probably the most important 
hospital firm here, working for the Corps of Engineers. 
They found that our work, which was done by architects 
and engineers, had some advantages on the work that could be 
done either by independent architects or civil engineers. 
As I believe I've mentioned before, in the manual of the 
Corps of Engineers the architect was connected with camouflage 


and the engineer was the dominant figure. So as the work 
proceeded, work of this nature proceeded, of course, the 
civil engineers retained the architects to help them with 
the contract. It was all kind of routine work, directed 
by the Corps of Engineers. Very little new design work. 
Once in a while there would be some. 

But there were standards of the Corps of Engineers that 
would set the nature of the buildings themselves, and let's 
say the site planning of the whole project was a matter of 
initiative. At that time I was doing such things as designing 
engineering work, such as drainage ditches, and even drafting 
on electrical work, because these were standards, and they 
became involved in the distribution of water and drainage 
problems. So all of that work was done right in the office 
by people like myself, often with the assistance of some 
consultants who were around the city. Later on after the 
war it became very apparent to me that we expand our firm 
to include mechanical and electrical engineers. My father 
had always been a structural engineer. But we had difficulty 
in getting our work done well by having and using consulting 
engineers, and we just thought that maybe it would be better 
if we started the process of having our own mechanical and 
electrical engineers. Which we did. 

LASKEY: Was that a direct outgrowth of your experiences with 
the war, seeing that you could do it here and found out 


it worked better? 

MARTIN: I think it was because we found out it worked 

better, at least in our minds. And it was easier to manage 

if we knew that we could count on our own production. We 

had always used consulting engineers, but we've always been 

happy that we're a totally integrated firm of architects 

and engineers. 

LASKEY: I want to backtrack just a little, just to the 

prewar period, which would be the late thirties, which is 

the point at which you actually become active in the firm. 

Is that right, you were out of school? 

MARTIN: Yes, in 19 37. 

LASKEY: Nineteen thirty-seven. You had mentioned, the 

last time we talked, about your preference for a plain or 

Bauhaus style or a simple form, and I was wondering-- 

At that time in Los Angeles, modernism was at its height, 

it had sort of taken root here -with [Rudolph M.] Schindler, 

[Richard] Neutra, and their followers, and I wonder if that 

affected you at all, if you were impressed by what they had 

done . 

MARTIN: Well, I was very much impressed with what Frank 

Lloyd Wright did. I was more aligned to the philosophy of the 

evolution of architecture as practiced by Frank Lloyd Wright 

than anybody. I recognized the work of Neutra and Schindler, 

and to some extent appreciated it, but it didn't have, to me. 


the warmth of Frank Lloyd Wright's work. Frank Lloyd Wright 
was, of course, heavily influenced by [Louis] Sullivan and the 
Chicago school, and I believe right to this day I have a 
strong preference for a richer form of architecture. Not to 
say that Neutra's work was cold, but it didn't possess the 
organic quality that Frank Lloyd Wright's did, the sculptural 
quality. So my response came from either Frank Lloyd Wright 
or an architect in Hilversum, Holland by the name of 
[Willem] Dudok. And I was very impressed with the work 
that he was doing. 

LASKEY : Now, did you see this when you took your trip abroad 
and went to Holland? 

MARTIN: Yes. When we went abroad I more or less followed 
and looked forward to seeing the work of Dudok, who was, 
I believe, a Dutch architect. Again, that form of design was 
more related to Frank Lloyd Wright and some of those than it 
was with the Bauhaus, the Bauhaus being very rigid. I 
believe today my response is a little more in favor of the ■ 
richer, more sculptural architecture. Although I believe 
that the ARCO project is strongly influenced by the plain, 
sophisticated lines of the Bauhaus school, it still is a 
granite building with columns from granite, quite a rich 
design, and quite different than the Bauhaus might produce. 
So there's no question in my mind that the evolution of 
design in this office, as perhaps influenced by me to some 


extent in the beginning, was more related to the movement 
from the Chicago school. 

LASKEY: And that would have been your father who v/as 
influenced by that. 

MARTIN: My father really was influenced by that: his work, 
however, really didn't show very much of that. His work v/as 
classic, which was ore-World's Fair of 1893. Because that's 
when the revival of classicism took place: the new western 
architecture was emerging, and the eastern seaboard 
architecture, which was beaux arts, a beaux arts background, 
was diminishing at the change of the century. So my father's 
work, as exemplified by the Ventura County courthouse, even 
the Higgins Building at Second and Main, was more related to 
classic . 

LASKEY: How much was he involved in the design of the Second 
Church of Christ Scientist? I know he did the dome, speaking 
of classic design. 

MARTIN: Yes. I don't think he really designed all of that 
church. I think he designed the dome, but I'm not certain 
where the line was drawn. I should really investigate that, 
because everything that he ever said about it was related 
to the uniqueness of the structure of the dome, the single- 
shelled dome, and that design doesn't look like his work, 
although it's classic. 
LASKEY: It is very classic. 


MARTIN: So I really should find out about that, because I 
don't know. 

LASKEY: The reason I was asking about modernism, because 
it brings us up to the May Company at Wilshire and Fairfax 

[boulevards], which was an extremely modern building, and I 
think one of the first that you did, or that A. C. Martin 

[and Associates] did, 

MARTIN: Yes, but the May Company Wilshire and the May Company 
Crenshaw were conceived, as far as design was concerned, by 
Samuel A. Marx from Chicago, who was Tom May's brother-in-law. 
LASKEY: Really. 

MARTIN: Yes, And there was an architect by the name of 
Noel Flint and another one by the name of Charles Schonne, 
who v/orked for Samuel Marx in Chicago and did some very 
sensitive design work, I think some of the finest, including 
the Buttery, a restaurant in Chicago, I believe — or New York, 
I'm not sure--the Ambassador East, v/hich was the Pump Room, 
including the apartment of Leigh Block, who was president of 
Inland Steel [Company] in Chicago. Even though they did 
many fine interiors, including the design of furniture, 
Noel Flint was really the one that conceived that design of 
the May Company Wilshire. We really took his preliminary 
designs and developed the building from them. 

The May Company Wilshire has something about it that you very 
seldom see any more, which are statuary bronze canopy facings and 


the bronze light coves above the show windows. They were 

beautifully detailed, and they stand there today as elegant 

designs. I think [it is] far superior to any other buildings 

of that era in Los Angeles. It has become rather run-down, 

of course. They even do not replace the gold mosaic on the 

corner, which is gold-leaf flashed tile from Italy. 

Beautiful design, but it has not been maintained. So May 

Company Wilshire, the original May Company Wilshire, was 

to the credit of Samuel A. Marx and Noel Flint, who was his 

associate . 

LASKEY: I'm really surprised, because I think the modern, 

or that kind of modern, or the streamlined modern, as being 

almost indicative of this area, of having come from here; I'm 

surprised that it originated in Chicago. 

MARTIN: Yes, it was really from the Chicago school. Nov;, 

I'm not certain where these men were trained. But it was a 

very modern building. 

LASKEY: Very modern. 

MARTIN: And it has, of course, classical proportions. There 

are reflections of classical cornices all the way through 

that building, for example. They've got a granite coping, 

very subtle, but it's a transition between the beaux arts and 

the modernism that was creeping in, as practiced by different 


LASKEY: What was the effect of that building in 19 39? 


I think [that's when] it was built. 

MARTIN: It was considered a very elegant building. I 
think it did have an effect on the architecture of 
Los Angeles; in fact I'm certain it did. The details and 
the casework and layout of the May Company Wilshire was 
of the finest quality. The second floor gown shop was with- 
out match in the city. It was a very flamboyant design, 
and I happened to detail it myself, but Noel Flint designed 
it. It was, I think, a very notable and impressive kind of 
a statement in the department store design. 

LASKEY: But was there anything else around it at the time? 
The Miracle Mile was just being developed, wasn't it? Were 
there other buildings, or did it stand by itself? 
MARTIN: No, it was standing alone. The Miracle Mile, some 
of it was developed. The Prudential [Building] wasn't there 
or of course Cal Fed [California Federal Savings], and none 
of the other high-rise buildings, the museum--none of those 
buildings were there at that time, and they were pretty 
much out in the country. Also, from an engineering point 
of view, we were pioneering. Because we opened up the earth 
for the foundation, which we had designed as spread footings, 
individual spread footings based upon the discovery of the 
soil borings, and when we saw the nature of the soil, which 
was mottled of different kinds of clay and different deposits 
because of the tar pits at La Brea, we changed the design 


of the foundation to what we call an inverted flat slab, 
which in effect floated the building. The May Company was 
the first building here that floated. Subsequent to that, 
Prudential was built on a similar foundation, and most of 
the buildings in there had this matt foundation. So there 
was a lot of fine engineering in the May Company Wilshire, 
and it was designed in our office. 

LASKEY: Did you actually run into any tar when you were 
laying the foundation? 

MARTIN: VJe ran into some soils which had to have some 
relationship to shale or oil shale or something like that, 
but there was some white deposit in there. There was some 
spring, like a hot spring, which didn't amount to much. 
When we built the parking structure on the lot to the east 
of it, we actually had to install pumps to pump the seepage. 
Which is not unusual in building design, but it v/as related 
to the tar pits. 


MARCH 18, 19 81 

LASKEY: Now, the parking structure for the May Company that 
you're talking about, I believe you won an award for that 

MARTIN: Yes. It was a first and a most interesting solution, 
It's a three-level parking structure, built between tv;o 
level streets, and we were desirous of eliminating the ramps, 
because of the ease of women patrons to drive. So we con- 
sidered raising the street and making a hill out of the 
street: so you'd drive up the hill and turn right on into 
the parking structure on whatever floor you were passing 
as you drove up the hill. But Orange Grove Avenue was limi- 
ted because of a reversionary type of provision in the lease 
that existed between the May Company and the Hancock estate. 
It was eventually owned by USC. This caused many complica- 
tions if we wanted to consider closing Orange Grove. Which 
we thought was a very good idea: to close Orange Grove, 
because it was a one-block-long street. So instead of that 
trouble we worked the building so that in effect the building 
slopes instead of the street becoming a hill. We created 
exactly the same ease of access by having the bottom level, 
the lower level, approached from the end, the middle level 
approached from Orange Grove at one of the low points on 
the warped slab — warped like a boomerang in shape — and 


the upper level was approached both from Orange Grove and 
from Ogden [Drive] , But it won a first award from the 
American Institute of Architects as a unique development 
and a unique idea. It's a very successful parking structure. 
So we've had a lot of history at Wilshire and Fairfax. 
LASKEY: I think the history of Wilshire and Fairfax is 
where the first gas station in the city of Los Angeles 
ever existed. Is that right? Apparently the Gilmores, 
when they discovered that they had oil on their property 
rather than water for their cattle, put it in big barrels 
and sold it by the gallon for people who were trying to get 
to the beach and back, when cars first started very early 
on. Fascinating corner. 

So that brings us back up again to the war, and at 
this point in about the mid-forties you become a partner 
with your father, as does your brother [John Edward]. Now, 
what had your brother been doing up to this time? 
MARTIN: Well, my brother and my sister Carolyn both entered 
the government service. Carolyn was in the Waves--not the 
Waves, there was another [branch], segment of Coast Guard. 
Spars. And my brother became a Seabee and was stationed in 
Hawaii. I believe he was there at the time of the attack — 
well, no, that couldn't be. He went there later, and then 
was transferred to the Aleutians and was stationed on the 
island of Tanaga, where he was with a group of Seabees that 


went in and established this base. I guess it has some of 
the most severe weather in the world. He also was stationed 
at [Port] Hueneme when he first enlisted near Oxnard, 
where he had some roots because of the family. So he 
returned after the war to the office, and I did one thing 
that has always impressed him and that is the day he 
walked in I said, "You're my equal partner." And we've been 
equal partners ever since. So that formed a bond between 
the two of us, which has prevailed over many differences. 
So it's been a long and successful partnership, really, and 
whenever we had differences we would agree that the partner- 
ship was more important than the difference, and that's one 
reason why we've stood together. Also, it's really an 
exemplification of the same kind of motivation that existed 
when I first went with my father and never had any ideas of 
working for anybody else; it was natural to be part of the 

LASKEY: And just for the record, your brother's name is? 
MARTIN: John Edward. 

LASKEY: John Edward, and you call him Ed. 
MARTIN: It's the same name as my mother's father, John 
Edward Borchard. 

LASKEY: Now, his interest is slightly different than yours, 
his background, I believe; he's not an architect. 
MARTIN: Yes. He started out to become an architect, went 


to use, and preferred to follow into civil engineering. 
And his work at USC and later on at the University of 
Illinois, where he graduated, as did my father, was in 
engineering, civil engineering. His life is more aligned 
to civil engineering, and he is by license a civil engineer. 
So again it's a continuance of the integration of engineering 
with architecture. I mean, that's one reason why our firm 
is strong in engineering. 

LASKEY: Which has been one of the benefits of your firm. 
MARTIN: I believe it to be a benefit, for one fundamental 
reason: that all of architecture and all of design is the 
embodiment of structure. It is not superficial, but when 
it becomes superficial, as is found in "fagadism" or eclec- 
ticism, it loses its quality, because it's not organically 
honest. We've spoken somewhat of this subject, of the 
honesty of architecture, which is a very big and important 
thing in our firm today, as it always has been in my mind, 
through my practice. 

LASKEY: Now, again in the mid-forties, when your brother 
came into the firm, you had been managing it for some time. 

LASKEY: Your father was still alive. 

MARTIN: Dad was there, and he was active. He handled the 
contracts, he handled the field supervision work, and he 
was very close to our chief draftsman, Mr. Tom Gilbert, who 


in effect was really the manager of the office, and perhaps, 
other than my father, was the most important mainstay in the 
office. Tom Gilbert was probably the best chief draftsman 
who existed. He was a lifelong employee of my father. He 
left the office for a fev/ years, went to Canada and Alaska, 
worked on the Alcan project, which was a highway project 
that went up through Canada to Alaska, built during the war. 
He was building camps and bridges and things like that. 
The office grew finally and slowly through the forties. We 
did work for Ducommun and Union Hardware; we were very strong 
in industrial-type architecture. 
LASKEY: This was in the late forties? 
MARTIN: And into the fifties. 

LASKEY: In the fifties. Now, it was in the fifties that 
you began your work v/ith shopping centers, I believe. 

LASKEY: Lakewood was 1959. 

MARTIN: Yes, and we had of course designed May Company 
Wilshire before the war. After the war we designed 
May Company Crenshaw, and it was that project which illus- 
trated a trend into the integrated shopping centers. 
Because at May Company Crenshaw, which was right across the 
street from the Broadway [department store] , there was an 
attempt to be close to each other as competitors and gain 
business from each other because of the proximity. The 


Broadway store was part of a shopping center, with a tunnel 
for deliveries. That's on the south side of Crenshaw 
[Boulevard] and Santa Barbara [Avenue]. That project showed 
the fallacy of the thesis that two stores — major, dominant 
retail stores--should be across the street from each other 
on a corner. 

After that was completed, we did the May Company 
Lakewood Shopping Center. And the May Company Lakewood 
Shopping Center was one of the first fully integrated shop- 
ping centers, with a tunnel for the distribution of goods 
and with a mall fifty feet wide for pedestrian access to 
the stores. Even though Broadway was kept out of the May 
Company Lakewood by Tom May, the Broadway finally did go in 
the vicinity of Lakewood, just to share the business. So 
the Lakewood [Shopping] Center had May Company in the center 
and dominant; it had Hiram's Market on one er.d and a second- 
rate department store on the other end, with a lot of 
specialty shops and a lot of shoe stores. 
LASKEY: There always is. [laughter] 

MARTIN: But it was May Company Crenshaw project, which 
demonstrated the fallacy of building across from each other 
on a major intersection. Everyone in the United States 
knew that, and we knew it very clearly that this was v/rong , 
but it was the attitude of the merchants and not the attitude 
of the architects, even though some architects on the eastern 
seaboard — Skidmore, Owings and Merrill being one — were 


starting to design the so-called integrated shopping center, 
the suburban shopping center. 

This was before [Victor] Gruen became prominent. At 
that time Gruen was working here in Los Angeles, and he was 
doing stores, because it was Gruen and Krummeck. [Elsie] 
Krummeck was his wife, and they came from New York. He 
became a member of the Southern California chapter of the 
AIA; he was a very prominent storefront designer. Of course 
Gruen became the leading architect for retailing shopping 
centers in the United States and maybe the world. He 
did it through his own abilities and promotion. Very strong. 
He did some wonderful things. Now, May Company Lakewood, 
which was a very successful shopping center, had the consul- 
tation of Skidmore, Owings and Merrill, who were working in 
our office on the concept. They were in the same kind of a 
transitional period as we were, and they had done some things 
on the eastern seaboard that were good. They didn't last 
too long on the job because they really weren't contributing 
that much it was felt. Not that they weren't perfectly 
capable of it of course. Then as they departed from the 
scene, we took over. We became very active in the whole 
retail shopping center field. The suburban shopping center 
movement was starting there, just as the expansion of the 
suburban residential districts were flourishing. 
LASKEY: Did they sort of create each other; that is, did 


the suburban shopping center develop because of the sudden 
increase in suburbia, the explosion in suburbia? Was it 
something that was going to happen, or was it something that 
had to be — I don't want to say forced, because it's a rather 
strong word — but had to be proven? 

MARTIN: That's a very interesting question, and my thoughts 
would include many things. First of all, the downtown 
businesses were diminishing. They were losing their impor- 
tance, primarily because of conflict between the automobile 
and the streetcars, which was one of the greater conflicts 
in urban design. They had to abandon all the streetcars 
finally to rearrange the lanes for automobiles to filter 

Also, it was the time of the expansion and start of the 
freeway system, which was of course statewide and of grand 
proportion, really big. And that movement of the new free- 
ways without a question was the most important factor in the 
whole urban development of all cities really, but of 
Los Angeles in particular. The freeways subdivided the land, 
the freeways were like the original crossroads out in the 
country. And with this subdivision of the land came 
identifiable districts, having to do even with civil 
government, because for the first time there was a very 
strong line of subdivision creating smaller units of land 
between the freeways. Well, all of this was related to the 


prominence of the automobile and the movement, the mobility, 
of society. And that was related to the construction of vast 
housing projects, endless housing projects, following out 
with freeways. So it was a movement. 

Now Lakewood Center, which perhaps has been the most 
successful shopping center for the district, was planned by 
the developers of the housing project. That was Ben Weingart, 
Lou Boyer , and some others, who built eight thousand houses in 
Lakewood all around the shopping center, then built the shopping 
center. And that was one of the most intelligent business 
arrangements you could imagine, because the market was there 
for the stores to come in and be immediately successful. 

So the evolution of the suburban shopping center was 
really related to the automobile and the dire need for a 
rapid kind of movement, especially in the California area, 
where distances are great. It was quite a bit later that 
Gruen built the first interior mall, and that was in the 
eastern area, where the weather was bad, a very logical 
development. And he did a great job on it of course. 
LASKEY: That's a question I would ask you, and I was going 
to a little later on, but we might as well talk about it 
here. The open or closed mall in the Southern California 
area. Do you have any feelings about that? 

MARTIN: Well, I have strong feelings that the closed mall 
is the way to go. 


LASKEY: It really is, even here? 

MARTIN: Yes, Primarily because all of the stores that are 
participating collectively can have complete open storefronts, 
air-conditioned and clean, without the dust, and complete 
access by the pedestrians who are in the mall to the merchan- 
dise. So it's like a gigantic department store with all 
these specialty shops. There's no question in my mind that 
that is the best system. You might recall that at one time 
the open-air markets were the thing in Southern California; 
they were almost invented here. The food and fruit markets 
had great open storefronts. 

LASKEY: I've seen pictures of it, and I've read about it, 
but by the time I got here they were gone. 

MARTIN: They were starting to be closed. Well, they were 
closed for a very good reason: it was because of the weather. 
And the uncleanliness . So the same thing was true of 
shopping centers to some extent. But the real factor that 
is important with the closing of the malls was (a) the weacher 
and (b) the ability to open up the storefronts so that the 
whole leased area of the tenants can be opened for the 
pedestrians to flow in; it's a much stronger merchandising 

LASKEY: What about energy, the conservation or use of 
energy in a mall, a closed mall? 


MARTIN: Well, of course, that's all so recent that it never 
has been considered up to these last few years. Even nov/ 
there are still malls that are air-conditioned, with the 
exception that a lot of outside air is being used through the 
ventilation cycle. Yes, it takes more energy, except I will 
say that the pattern of most merchants, if you have a shop 
on the street or a shop on the mall that is not enclosed, is 
to prop the door open and leave it open. 
LASKEY: That's true. 

MARTIN: So these early shops at Lakewood were losing all 
of their air-conditioned air because the merchants would 
prop the doors open to get the people in. So it shows you 
that the mall should have been closed, really, in the first 
place, because all that air was going out, that cool air was 
going out into the warm air. So it certainly was the right 
thing to have happened. 

LASKEY: You also did Eastland Shopping Center within a 
couple of years of Lakewood. 

MARTIN: Yes. We followed on with Eastland, and being a 
two-level shopping center, it was a very difficult problem, 
because there were very few two-level shopping centers. 
Most of them were one level at that time. So we designed a 
two-level, with the lower level being a little different 
type of merchandise. It was a step towards the contemporary 
shopping center, which is now two levels, but the whole lower 


level is just a lower class of merchandise. That two-level 
shopping center at Eastland still used the interior truck 
mall; all the merchandise was delivered into a tunnel at 
Eastland. So on the lower level, stores were on one side 
only, because it was a topographical change, and so the 
tunnel was used for the upper stores, v/ith elevators, and had 
direct access to the lower stores. So that was the days of 
the tunnel. Now these days, shopping centers don't build 
tunnels, and the reason for that is that it's too costly in 
handling the merchandise, like .5 percent more. A food 
market exists on 2, 2.5 percent of the in-gross, so it was 
a huge cost for transporting merchandise from the truck, 
across loading docks, up elevators, and things like that. 
LASKEY: Do you marvel when you go out past Lakewood or 
Eastland, at how large they've become, the areas, the shop- 
ping areas? 

I4ARTIN: They're huge, and they are, really, generally 
reasonably successful. They have good food markets, because 
the residential areas were built around them, or were built 
first, with the shopping center inserted into the paved area. 
LASKEY: I'm looking at my list here, and I see kind of an 
interesting juxtaposition of structures that you, or your 
firm, did the same year, in 1957, You built a home for 
your sister and a men's detention facility, 
MARTIN: Uh huh, yes. 


LASKEY: You were very busy that year; they sound very 
different. Did you actually design the house for your 
sister yourself? 

MARTIN: Oh, yes. Yes, I designed a series of houses. 
Before that I designed a house for J. Watson Webb and one 
for Higgins Sword out in the West Los Angeles area. And 
to this day, one of my dearest friends is J. Watson Webb. 
Watson is an interesting fellow, he's a bachelor, he's a 
direct heir of the Vanderbilts. His mother was a Havemeyer , 
and he is now alone with his responsibilities, which include 
the management of the Shelburne Museum in Vermont, probably 
one of the greatest collections of Americana in the United 
States. But our friendship exists to the point that today 
we're adding on to an outhouse for J. Watson Webb, and his 
house was built I think in '55, or something like that. 

Then that experience led me into an interesting decision, 
Watson asked me if I was interested in expanding the resi- 
dential design practice. He and his friends were building 
all over the world these large residences, 
LASKEY: Individual residences as opposed to tract? 
MARTIN: Individual residences; some of them, you know, like 
the Vanderbilts, built large residences. 
LASKEY: Yes, they did. 

MARTIN: And I made a decision that I would not, that I 
would stay with the commercial. But I remember very clearly 


that was a decision, a purposeful decision, that I would 
not follow that trend. 
LASKEY: Were you tempted by it? 

MARTIN: I was enjoying the residential work, because I was 
quite good at it, I'd say. And that had to do with my 
training, I believe, and my desire for small-scale consi- 
derations. Then later on I did my sister's house, and then 
I did my own home in Whittier, which was a very successful, 
modern, very modern home, which we sold two and a half years 

LASKEY: Oh, you did, 

MARTIN: And moved to the beach. It was too large; it was 
two acres of land and 6,000 square feet of house. 
LASKEY: So you no longer live in Whittier? 
MARTIN: No, I live in Long Beach, Alamitos Bay, 
LASKEY: Do you miss all those years that you lived in 

MARTIN: No, no, we don't miss it. We loved it, it did its 
job, the people were great. We still go back to Whittier 
to enjoy our friends. But the family is gone, and the house 
and the yard were too large, just too much trouble. So I 
was happy to reduce the scale of our living down to 3,000 
feet, and on Alamitos Bay, and the boat is right out in 
front in a slip, which has been a dedication in my life 
ever since the early fifties. 


LASKEY: Well, now the boat leads us into another subject, 

of your interest — 


LASKEY: — in yachting, that you might want to talk about. 

MARTIN: Well, we could talk about that any time. [laughter] 

LASKEY: We'll talk about it now, since it's very important 

to you, 

MARTIN: I became interested in sailing really through my 

friend Jack Axelson, Axelson was the heir of Axelson 

Manufacturing Company, who built landing gear during the 

war. They had a boat by the name of Jada, which is still 

around. Dorothy and I went sailing with them one time, and 

it was quite a thrill. So later on I bought a little 

eighteen-foot sailboat and started racing and sailing; that 

lead, eventually, to a thirty-eight-foot sailing boat, and 

eventually to a forty-six, and now a fifty. And I have 

done a lot of racing; I've raced to Honolulu nine times, 

and Mazatlan probably six times, Acapulco , and a lot of 

local racing around the islands. So I still race a bit; I 

did race last November and did very well in the Mazatlan 

race. In an old wooden boat, 

LASKEY: I was going to say, how old is your boat, what's 

it like? 

MARTIN: Twenty years old. It's well-kept, a beautiful 



LASKEY: They are beautiful. 

MARTIN: And she's redesigned, and I've done a lot of things 
with the boat. It's a different sail plan, a new mast, the 
whole reconfiguration with lots of modern equipment. But 
the boat is still a very important part of my life. I enjoy 
it and I work on it myself, although I have some work done 
by the professionals. 
LASKEY: Is your wife a sailor? 

MARTIN: Loves to cruise, loves to be on the boat after 
cruising; the answer is probably no. She doesn't feel well 
sailing. I used to sail a lot and be gone a lot on the 
weekends because of sailing, which I don't think was very 
positive at home, but I guess that's what I wanted to do and 
I did it that way. 

LASKEY: Did that influence where you moved, when you left 
Whittier, that you had to be near the water? 
MARTIN: I'm sure it did, yes. 
LASKEY: Closer to the boat. 

MARTIN: Oh yes, it definitely did. We found a place with 
a slip and a very nice residential district. 

LASKEY: Now, that's a large boat, fifty feet. Is it some- 
thing that you can just go out for a cruise on a Saturday 
afternoon, or do you need a crew? 

MARTIN: You really need another person that can handle sail. 
I can do it alone, but Dorothy wouldn't be comfortable, if 


the two of us went out. As we have done that many times, 
I've sailed alone, and I can. But it's quite a bit of boat 
to bring in in case you're having trouble and have to sail 
it into a slip so you're pretty busy. 

LASKEY: When you sail, say, down to Mazatlan, what size 
crew do you have? 

MARTIN: A racing crew of eight people. 
LASKEY: Eight people! 

MARTIN: Two watches, three persons on a watch, plus a cook, 
and then I as captain work between the watches. It's worked 
quite well. . .■; 

LASKEY: It sounds very important to you. 

MARTIN: Oh yeah, it has been, because the thrill of these 
long-distance races really is pretty great. 
LASKEY: How about your children? Are they sailors, some 
of them? 

MARTIN: Well, the best sailor, I suppose, is the youngest 
boy, Charlie, and he enjoyed sailing. They all sailed with 
me, one way or the other. Charlie and David both sailed to 
Honolulu with me. The boys have had other interests: 
David in automobile racing, and Al in being around his home 
(he has related to his family more) , and Charlie has been 
always working on something like that, not aligned to 
sailing. Today, David has a sailboat, a Hobie Cat. 
LASKEY: Fast? 


MARTIN: Yes, that's right. Speed, I'm sure that one's 
life is influenced by such attractions, as you go in many 
directions , 


APRIL 3, 1981 

LASKEY: Well, today, Mr. Martin, we'll begin to talk on 
the subject of the evolution of the reincarnation of down- 
town [Los Angeles] , and I know that you have a great deal 
to say about that because you've been instrumental in a lot 
of what's happened, 

MARTIN: The downtown area was dormant from the time of the 
Great Depression of 1929 until the early sixties, which is 
a period of thirty years, and the once vibrant business 
center of Spring Street stayed level because of a whole 
series of external movements that were taking place: 
traffic congestion, the introduction of freeways, the 
suburbanization. And the thesis of the FHA that every home 
shall have a garage with a car in it and every pot a 
chicken, as advocated by Franklin Delano Roosevelt, became 
a way of life in California. There was movement. There 
was a real surge of the need for cohesive arrangements of 
government buildings. Because Los Angeles was destined to 
become one of the great cities of the world, for all the 
reasons that everyone knows about: the weather and the 
access and the adjacency to the Pacific Rim. 

The Civic Center emerged after long struggles of alter- 
nate Civic Center plans, the most notable of which ran north 
and south down Main Street, and various architectural groups 


would express their ideas to the government officials of 
the time, including my father, who was connected with some 
of the explorations for how a new civic center should be 
developed. It wasn't until a man by the name of 
Arthur Will, Sr., came on the scene as the chief adminis- 
trative officer of the county of Los Angeles that action 
towards the adoption of a civic center plan took place. It 
was Arthur Will, Sr., that put his shoulder to the wheel 
and through his abilities caused the Civic Center to be as 
it is today, which is running in an east-west direction. 
And as everything evolved, this was parallel to the Hollywood 
Freeway, which became the San Bernardino and Santa Ana 
freeways and a major artery in the whole western part of 
the United States. That freeway carries more traffic than 
any freeway in the world. The Civic Center was paralleling 
that as it evolved, and this in effect ran the Civic Center 
up the old insurmountable Bunker Hill. So Bunker Hill was 
not as high and mighty as it always seemed to be, because 
in effect the Civic Center ran right over it. 

The City Hall, of course, was established early, and 
my father was one of the three architects — John Parkinson 
and John Austin and Albert C. Martin. That tall, 450-foot- 
high, twenty-eight-story building became the center of much 
of the attention of the downtown, as well as the government, 
area. So in effect it was the hub of the Civic Center, which 


was branching out to the west, 

LASKEY: At the time that City Hall was built, actually the 

Civic Center could have gone either way — east and west, 

north and south — and City Hall still would have been the 


MARTIN: Yes, that's right, and all those plans really 

hinged upon the Civic Center as the hub of any kind of an 

expansion. And today it really is, because the Civic Center 

east, the east mall, and other future developments still 

hinge upon the City Hall as its hub. 

The construction of the Civic Center Mall in the east- 
west direction led to some very important urban land move- 
ments. First of all, that eliminated the idea of the 
Civic Center running south down Main and Spring streets. 
Also, the Hollywood Freeway and the Civic Center Mall formed 
a very strong barrier on the north edge of the dov;ntown 
area. The only things that would span across the freeway 
and the mall were the ethnic developments which v;ere 
historically located there in the first place, such as 
Chinatown and El Pueblo, the founding place of the city of 
Los Angeles. So the business building development, which 
was always Spring Street in the last fifty years at least, 
or last eighty years, and was stagnant until 1960, the 
business building development had finally to expand because 
of the postwar demand for new financial institutions, and 


Los Angeles became the financial center of the West, on the 
fringe of the great Pacific Rim, where trade was starting 
to flow. Therefore, with the Harbor Freeway on the west 
side of downtown Los Angeles, the Hollywood Freeway on the 
north, with the Civic Center established flanking the 
Hollywood Freeway, with Main Street wall-to-wall, thirteen- 
story office buildings, the expansion really had to go to 
the west. Important things happened, such as the lifting 
of the limit height in companion with the requirement for 
parking facilities for one car per 1,000 foot of building 
improvement. That combination created a whole new concept 
of buildings and open spaces. Requirements for business 
houses tripled, they could now go up into the air; the 
requirement for parking was a law. And the entire fabric of 
the city started to open up, as is so well exemplified in 
the new buildings that we have been privileged to work with 
on the west side of the Biltmore Hotel and the library. 
The Harbor Freeway on the west was pulling the expansion of 
the business area to the west because it was the point of 
access to the downtown area. Unlike the Civic Center on the 
north, the industrial section on the east, an industrial 
section of a smaller scale on the south, the west was open 
for expansion, and this was the direction of most of the 
business residences in any case, 

A strange thing also happened in the evolution of the 


planning of the downtown area. The new Community Redevelop- 
ment Agency [CRA] created the Bunker Hill Project, This 
included a huge lot of acreage just south of the Civic Center 
Mall, running in effect from Hill Street to the Harbor 
Freeway. The Bunker Hill Project stripped off many of the 
old historic buildings (residences that were on Bunker Hill) , 
recontoured the land, and offered it for sale to a community 
that wasn't expanding at that time. As mentioned, 
Los Angeles was stagnant from the Depression until the 
sixties . 

LASKEY: Now the CRA, I think, took over Bunker Hill in the 
fifties. They actually started around about '56, '57 — 
MARTIN: I think so. 
LASKEY: — to flatten the land, 

MARTIN: Yes. So in effect Los Angeles had at that time a 
great excess of land available, which at that time seemed 
to be in the wrong place. As time has shown, however, it 
was a well-conceived plan and is now in the process of final 
commitment, with some substantial development already in 
place. However, with the need for expansion of the dov/ntown 
area, and the barriers to the north, the Spring Street wall- 
to-wall buildings on the east, the expansion started first 
going to the west, out Sixth Street and out Fifth Street, 
which was the southern boundary of the Bunker Hill area. 
The high-rise development came because the ordinance lifted 


the limit height, and our firm was selected as an associate 
firm with [Wally] Harrison and [Max] Abraraovitz from 
New York, who were the architects for Galbreath-Ruf f in. 
New York developers. The developers were Galbreath and 
Ruffin, and the owner of the insurance company was 
Connecticut General. We together designed the first high- 
rise, other than the UCB [United California Bank] building 
which was built at Sixth and Spring in an endeavor to anchor 
Spring Street. It went eighteen stories or so. The 
Connecticut General Building, which is now Union Bank Square, 
was the first forty-two-story building constructed and was 
the first example of the use of earthquake-resistant struc- 
tures resolved by the process of dynamic analysis, which 
was developed by our engineers in conjunction with a very 
outstanding San Francisco structural engineer by the name 
of John Bloom. It was then that Albert C. Martin and 
Associates learned the techniques and started a very impor- 
tant development: computer analysis for earthquake movements 
and their resolution. Undoubtedly the most advanced 
engineering accomplishment of the time. With the help of 
[George W.] Housner, [Charles F.] Richter, and some of the 
professors from Berkeley, this team evolved a new technique 
by the use of computers. ■ 

LASKEY: What does it do? Can you describe it in layman 


MARTIN: Yes, It analyzes the characteristics of each and 
every member of a frame in a building, and if you think of 
the frame of the building as a birdcage, with all the 
strength on the outside, and if you think of that frame 
being subjected to movements of an earthquake at the ground 
level, which have very erratic characteristics, strong 
accelerations of perhaps one to two feet in one direction and 
then erratic movements the other way and even lifting as 
much as nine inches, you then can see what a stress that 
places onto a frame. Now formerly the frames were designed 
principally for static vertical loads, and then after the 
earthquake of '33, Long Beach earthquake, an application of 
lateral movements caused by earthquakes was required for 
these frames. This again had the characteristic of being 
a static lateral movemet. The real performance, however, 
of earthquake forces causes dynamic responses all through 
the frame. The jerking — and I'll use the lay term--of the 
ground movements causes an array of forces to be distributed 
up through the columns and into the beams, which are so 
great that the normal static stresses in beams and columns 
are even reversed to where the compression end of a beam 
may be on the bottom flange instead of the top flange. And 
all of the calculations that had been assumed through the 
static process start to be affected. One can visualize 
that with a reversal of stresses in the members of the frame 


that the joints where beams meet columns and the nature of 
the beam and column itself are considerably different. 

The dynamic analysis computer program that was developed, 
or refined, in this office very clearly showed the condition 
in each and every member of the frame, as these earthquake 
movements were applied in the computer to the frame, and 
by trial and error the frame was, through the computer, 
redesigned until the optimum condition of size to resist 
shearing action or bending action was found. That of course 
changed the whole system of design of frames and put it into 
a highly sophisticated process for, not only the design, but 
the fabrication of the steel. If you think for a minute, 
that the development of the aircraft industry probably was 
the leader in such stresses, because airplane wings were 
subjected to these kinds of bending and waving actions, and 
the scientists and engineers of the aircraft industry 
developed these computer techniques that did this. That 
was at the time of the construction of this Connecticut 
General Building, now Union Bank Square, that our engineers 
learned from that process and advanced the state of the art 
into what it is today. I believe that was one of the most 
important design attainments that any firm had reached for 
a long time. 

LASKEY: Did that design movement have any direct relation to 
the lifting of the height limits in the city of Los Angeles? 


MARTIN: I don't believe so. Although there is a relation- 
ship of most all influences, such as technical advances, to 
all urban planning requirements. If you think of what it 
is that causes a configuration or a result in urban planning, 
you would have to include social influences, technical 
influences and advances, and business influences. But, 
in any case, this Connecticut General Building was built 
forty-two stories high; it was a very sophisticated design, 
it was at the west side of the Bunker Hill Community 
Redevelopment Project. 

LASKEY: Well, we're sitting on the nineteenth floor of 
that building right now. 

LASKEY: What would happen if an earthquake--getting back 
to the point you were talking about--if an earthquake, say 
the magnitude of the 1971 earthquake, were to hit, would we 
be — ? 

MARTIN: I'm glad you asked, because in the Sylmar earth- 
quake, 1971, this building contained two accelerometers , as 
required by law. These were to record the movement of 
earthquakes at that particular spot in the building. One 
of those was defective, but the other, wherever it is 
located, was not. It recorded the exact movement of this 
building from that quake. And a very strange thing happened. 


The Sylmar earthquake, which took place in a valley in that 
area, was a quake that caused an alluvial deposit at the 
bottom of this valley to act like a bowl of jelly, and the 
alluvial sand and earth structure really shook like jelly 
and caused tremendous damage. That bowl was bounded by rock 
structure. Now that quake, however, had reflection that 
came through the whole district and strongly towards the 
downtown area, which has a substructure of blue clay, very 
thick, and all these big buildings are resting on this clay 
structure, which is an outstanding foundation material. 

But the wave action of that particular quake, as it 
came south and hit this high-rise building, strangely caused 
a harmonic reaction between the wave periods and the building 
period, to the point that the resultant effect on this 
building from an earthquake that might have been something 
like 5.5 or 6.0 on the Richter scale reached a harmonic 
intensity of something like 7.0 or over, which is a much 
more severe earthquake. This building performed exactly as 
it was designed, and the movements of this building, as 
shown in computer readouts from that earthquake, matched 
exactly the curves that were represented on the accelerometer 
which is in place. This proved, in a practical sense, the 
validity of the design and the theory that was employed and 
adapted for all of these dynamic analyses techniques. The 
process is now in existence here in the city as a standard. 


LASKEY : So when you're talking about the skeleton of a 

building these days, you're really talking about a skeleton 

almost like a human skeleton, that moves and adjusts and is 

no longer a thing that is static. 

MARTIN: Yes, it is not static, it is not rigid, it is 

flexible. That's of course the secret to an airplane wing 

and a building and, for that matter, the granite slabs of 

the ARCO project and the Security Pacific project; all float 

separately, unto themselves, with compressible joints around 

the perimeter, so that they can work in their same little 

orbit. They can work in their own orbit in the pattern of 

the fabric of the whole wall as the building moves. In the 

Sylmar earthquake we had no cracking whatsoever in ARCO 

and no damage to the exterior of this building. We had 

plaster cracking around the interior shafts because the 

plaster is rigid and no provisions were made to try to put 

flexible joints in the plaster walls. That we believe to 

be a secondary kind of a result. 

LASKEY: Now, all these are techniques that you worked out, 

not you specifically, but your office worked out. 

MARTIN: These are techniques that we were leading in, the 

application of them, the creation of the formulas, the 

computer programs, and we have a proprietary computer program 

today that is probably better than that which is required under 

the law. It has been modified and, let's say, taken by former 

employees of ours who are now in the business of dynamic analysis, 


something which you cannot possibly retain unto yourself. 

LASKEY: Nor would you want to really. 

MARTIN: And we don't really try to; we try to teach the 

whole industry, the whole profession, what our findings are. 

LASKEY: So you feel very secure, then, with your high-rise 

buildings in an earthquake situation. 

MARTIN: Yes, yes, and I'm not sure that I mentioned it, 

but when we did the fifty-five-story Security Pacific Building, 

we were retained to shake that building to the point of 

extending beyond the elastic limit of steel, and to find out 

what happens, theoretically, if you have an earthquake of 

such great intensity that the elastic limit of steel is 

exceeded and all the members start to bend instead of 

springing back in their original place. 

So we shook the building up to the 8.0 measurement on 
the Richter scale, which is a most intense earthquake — this 
is all being done in the computer--and nothing happened. 
The members of the steel frame started to bend — they absorb 
a great amount of energy when that happens, they don't 
spring, they just settle in — and the whole design just 
settled in and didn't go anyplace. In other words, this 
is countered, this is a counterthought to a building falling 
over, which some people might imagine. So we have proven 
it in the computer experience on that building, which is 
the only time it's ever been done, to our knowledge, and of 


course with that knowledge we feel secure in our ability to 
make very good buildings. Very advanced. 

One thing that you might be interested in: when we 
were retained to study the ARCO, which are now twin towers, 
we looked at several other designs, one of them a seventy- 
five-story building and another one a single high-rise tower 
with a low bank building of six or eight stories. Our 
recommendation was to go to the twin identical towers. The 
reason for it was that we felt that the large building would 
be kind of a dominant insult to the rest of the fabric of 
the city — much as the John Hancock Building is in Chicago 
{it's overbearing, it is not a graceful neighbor) — and 
we felt that the twin identical towers, black, reflective 
of each other, would be very acceptable companions to the 
rest of the development of the urban center. Which they 
have proven to be, they're very acceptable. And one has to 
recall the psychological fact that if you have two parallel 
white objects like buildings, they oppose each other, and 
the tendency visually, psychologically, is for them to go 
outward, whereas two black reflective shiny companions, 
identical, tend to be cohesive and complement each other 
and reflect into each other and so forth. They become a 
single entity and a smaller concept, and that's what we did 
to the ARCO Towers. 
LASKEY: What did ARCO think? 


MARTIN: They accepted the resolution and the recommendation. 
They felt very good about it, and they do today. The ARCO 
Towers really have qualities that are unique because of the 
twin characteristics, and the reflectivity and the black, 
dark green essence of the stone bring them into a very, very 
happy type of development. Now, they are severe in design, 
utterly simple, highly detailed, and probably one of the 
best designs that is existing. I can say that about other 
buildings also, but since the ARCO/B of A Towers are of that 
nature and a little unusual — 

LASKEY: Well, I think what's unusual about it, too — several 
things — is how you got the granite. 

MARTIN: Yes. It was mined in Canada, shipped to Italy. 
It was cut into one-inch slabs in Italy, and that's the only 
place in the world that had saws that could do that, and 
still is, and then shipped to Los Angeles, taken to a yard 
which casts concrete, and we cast a sandwich of concrete on 
the back of those slabs, including anchors and stainless 
steel butterfly wire anchors into the granite. And the stones 
in their composite essence are well attached to the frame 
and do act with enough mass so that they take their own 
place in an earthquake. There is somewhat of a danger with 
thin slabs, paper-thin, so to speak; they crack like glass 
would crack if you had a load applied to one little part of 
it. So the mass of the composite stone of the ARCO Tower 
has worked very well. 


LASKEY: And the wall, the retaining wall on Figueroa [Street], 

is a beautiful wall. 

MARTIN: We did borrow the inspiration, as I guess most 

everything we do, from the Greeks and the Romans, and the 

rustication of that granite is of course historic in nature. 

It's an evolution between the rustic nature of the ground 

and the polished nature of the material up above the ground. 

And I think the rustication, with its ivy creeping over it, 

is really very beautiful. 

LASKEY: So we will pick this up next time and start with — 

MARTIN: Yeah, sure, there's a lot of things like that that 

are just very exciting. 

LASKEY: Well, they're very exciting buildings. I think 

people don't look at them closely enough. 

MARTIN: Well, they don't really understand, and I can 

understand that. The evolution — Another example of the 

ARCO design was the decision to put the plaza at the Flower 

Street level, as counter to the plaza being at the Figueroa 

Street level, 

LASKEY: Would it have been possible to put it at Figueroa 


MARTIN: Yes. If we had put it at Figueroa Street then we 

would have had a landscaped bank along Flower Street, like 

twelve, fifteen feet high, that's how much difference. 


LASKEY: You would have actually built up the area there? 
MARTIN: We would have built up the plaza so that there 
would be a bank on the west side of Flower Street. Now, 
that wasn't a bad scheme, because there is a small bank 
over at the library across the street, and you could have 
put a bridge across the street from that plaza going east, 
and that would have been a good pedestrian scheme. The 
decision to put the plaza at the Flower Street level was 
primarily influenced by the Bank of America, who wanted the 
pedestrians of Sixth and Flower to be able to walk right 
into the bank. That seems silly, but that was the motiva- 
tion of the old idea that their business hinged upon people 
walking through their front door. That was actually expressed, 
LASKEY: That's rather interesting, because Los Angeles has 
a history of people not walking anywhere, front doors being 
really more traditional, something like that. 
MARTIN: Right. It's a traditional idea. But that was a 
strong influence. I'm not saying that the present scheme 
is secondary to the other, but we strongly considered putting 
the plaza at the Figueroa Street level, and it would have 
worked well in the whole urban design. But now, you see, 
the new Wells Fargo Plaza is at the street level too, whereas 
eventually the people, we hope, will be once up at the plaza 
level, or the raised level, like the Union Bank Building — 
You see, we designed the Union Bank Building with the ground 


floor at the level of the pedestrian system of the future. 
So [when] you walk out of the ground floor of the Union 
Bank Building, you walk straight across a bridge over to the 

LASKEY: And then straight across the bridge over to the 
World Trade Center, and then over to the Bunker Hill Towers. 
MARTIN: That's right. 
LASKEY: Which is just wonderful. 

MARTIN: And there will be a bridge straight over to Wells 
Fargo, and we put a bridge over to ARCO Plaza, but we had to 
go down to the plaza level by an escalator. That is the 
edge of the pedestrian system of the Bunker Hill redevelop- 
ment project, as we go down to the plaza level of the ARCO 
Towers. And those things are very obvious if you think 
about them. 

LASKEY: Well, if you think about — and we can discuss next 
time or maybe the time after that — the bridges, I think you 
could talk about the bridge you wanted from the Music Center 
to the Civic Center Mall. 

MARTIN: I think that would be one of the grandest projects 
the city will ever realize, and I think they will realize 
it. I'm still trying to have it officially adopted as part 
of the Civic Center master plan, and I think we'll win. 
LASKEY: I hope so. 
MARTIN: I think it will make it. That would be a 


sensational thing, probably one of the most sensational 
places in the city, if we could extend the plaza at the 
cultural center across Grand [Avenue] and have it descend 
down to the level of the plaza between the courts buildings, 
which is a lovely plaza in there, and have a continuity of 
it in the east-west direction for the pedestrians traversing 
the mall. Right now you stop at every street, which is silly. 
LASKEY: Oh, it is, it really is. It needs crossing. I 
think at one time they were considering making Broadway a 
pedestrian mall, and if that ever happened, we could walk 
from here to South Broadway and up South Broadway without 
ever crossing a street. 

MARTIN: The pedestrian system will come. It's slow, but 
it will come. Maybe one of the most exciting parts of that 
[system] will be the new retail mall that is hopefully 
planned between Seventh and Eighth streets and the south 
side of Seventh Street. It will be an elevated retail mall, 
just like contemporary shopping centers, running from 
Figueroa, which will be where Bullock's is, clear on through 
to the other side of Robinson's, and that would be one of 
the greatest retail developments you can imagine, and that's 
at the level of the pedestrian system. And the People 
Mover — that's one reason I have been so strong for the People 
Mover is that it would be a link for pedestrians, pedestrians 
that want to go to the Civic Center, you know, or to 


peripheral parking structures. 

LASKEY: The Whole area is so potentially fascinating, 
MARTIN: Fabulous, it's fabulous. I don't know what is 
going to develop on the library. I've been reading about 
the library this morning, this proposal to tear the library 
down, you know, and we're advocating that the library stay. 
I'm trying to develop a scheme that would be a compromise, 
perhaps, but would keep the library, and some people and 
myself are trying to find a donor to take over the library 
as a museum. That would be magnificent. We have some 
possibilities, and to operate it through time. It would be 
one of the greatest things the city could have. And then 
to build a new library either to the east side of that site 
or some other place. 

LASKEY: I think nobody's questioning that we need a new 
library . 

MARTIN: Oh, no. 

LASKEY: It's just a matter of saving one of our few land- 
mark structures is the problem at hand, and that happens to 
be sitting on an incredibly valuable piece of property. 
MARTIN: Yeah, but it's valuable not only from a commercial 
point of view, but it's valuable to the people as an open 
space, and the latter is more important than the dollars, 
by far. It's like getting Main Street out of the middle of 
El Pueblo; El Pueblo should not have that. 


APRIL 22, 1981 

LASKEY: Well, we'll continue talking about the library 
and your involvement and your feelings about it, your 
reservations . 

MARTIN: OK. We have discussed the evolution of the down- 
town — I should say evolution and revitalization of the 
downtown area-- and we have discussed the importance of urban 
plans which include large open spaces between buildings and 
how these have been managed. Perhaps key in the overall 
downtown urban plan is the large plot of land that the 
Central Library occupies, located between Fifth and Sixth 
and Flower [streets] and Grand [Avenue], The Los Angeles 
Central Library has for years been obsolete from the stand- 
point of being a practical library. They tell me it contains 
some magnificent collections. It also has become obsolete 
in some of its physical characteristics related to fire and 
safety and earthquake, and it is estimated at the present 
time that to correct these would take some $14 million of 

LASKEY: But, specifically what would they have to do? 
MARTIN: Well, they would have to create fire separations 
in some of the areas that are like open stacks. They 
would have to renovate the whole electrical distribution 


system as well as the heating, ventilating, and air condi- 
tioning. I suspect that the structural work required to 
resist earthquakes would be manageable, but we have never 
made a detailed examination as a firm. Important to our 
client ARCO, which borders this site on the west side, is 
the restoration of the open space between the library and 
Flower Street, 

LASKEY: Oh, where the gardens used to be and what is now 
a parking lot. 

MARTIN: Where there was an original configuration of a 
fountain, a cascading fountain and gardens. And we as a 
firm have prepared for ARCO (at our expense, incidentally) 
some very interesting sketches of how it used to be; so 
that we now have a representation, even though there are photo- 
graphs, a representation in a beautiful pencil sketch by Joe 
[Joseph L.] Amestoy of this garden. Today, even as of yester- 
day, I visited with Bob [Robert 0.] Anderson, who is chairman of 
the board, and Rod Rood, and we discussed the garden and a 
new idea that ARCO is pushing, somewhat at my suggestion, 
although we try to stay in the background when somebody 
picks up an idea and wants to take the initiative, especially 
a client. 

The idea at the present time, which is enthusing 
Bob Anderson and Ed [Edward W.] Carter, who has been brought 
in by Bob Anderson, is to ask the [J. Paul] Getty Museum, 


the Getty Foundation, to take over the library and reconstruct 
it into the form of an early American ethnic museum and to 
operate it in perpetuity. The people connected with the 
Getty Museum, or Getty Foundation, are friendly, but most 
encouraging is the newly retained services of Harold [M.] 
Williams, formerly the secretary of the Securities and 
Exchange Commission under the Carter administration and 
formerly the dean of the school of business at UCLA. Harold 
is very friendly personally to these people. So, in some- 
what of a cautious way we are marking time until the 
proposition can be made by Bob Anderson and Ed Carter that 
this be done. If that happens it solves one element of the 
problem of getting a new library. 

Now to describe the overall problem of the library, it 
might be well to go back into recent history a little bit 
and discuss some of the things that have happened in the 
last few years. The American Institute of Architects, 
Southern California chapter, took a hard position, after 
doing a great deal of research, that the library should be 
preserved. Charles Luckman, who has been friendly to 
Gilbert [W, ] Lindsay, the councilman of the great ninth 
district, has for years been promoting a modification to 
the library which would add the required space and parking 
and, however, would change the design and configuration of 
the library drastically. The American Institute of Architects 


sued the city several years ago for not performing the 
environmental impact report properly. 
LASKEY: That was the Luckman plan? 

MARTIN: On a plan which was developed by Charles Luckman 
and Associates, And [it] delayed any action on the part of 
the city council. It was at that time that I personally 
felt so strongly about the emasculation of the original 
design of the library. 

LASKEY: Could you discuss, could you describe, what the 
plan actually would have done to the building? 
MARTIN: The building is approximately 250,000 square feet 
gross in area. The building is of a square configuration 
with a central tower with a pyramid-shaped tile cap to the 
tower. In order to gain the required space for the expan- 
sion of the library, Charles Luckman proposed the construction 
of a two-story large, massive building to be built on the 
west side between Flower and the library, with huge wings 
that may be three stories high flanking it on the north side 
of the property as well as the south side. Also, on the east 
park, there was a large construction proposed as well as a 
very deep excavation for parking. I knew that such a 
modification of the original configuration of the building 
would absolutely destroy the building; for one thing, the 
pedestrians couldn't even see it, could not see it at all, 
and another thing is that the scheme which was estimated by 


Luckman to be $30 million would actually have cost about 
$60 [million] , I knew that, and it was the basis of that 
misrepresentation that caused me to make a political issue 
out of this and a debate on the council floor with my good 
friend Gilbert Lindsay, the councilman; I won the support 
of the council, even though this was his district. This 
was a great victory, but it left me in a very difficult 
position with Mr. Lindsay. All of this has since been cured, 
and Mr. Lindsay is one of my dear friends, I don't think 
Mr. Luckman [laughter] feels very good about it. Although 
we really are fair friends even with all these bitter 
experiences . 

Now, several years later, in desperation, the city 
through the initiative of the library commission, has 
recommended that the city go out to the public with a request 
for proposal (an RFP) to provide the city with a new library 
on some other site in the downtown area in exchange for the 
land, which is one of the most important pieces of land. 
The city, in their RFP, which is in the draft form only today 
and not officially issued, suggests that there may be alter- 
native schemes which would leave the library intact and with 
some other possible use of the land for the construction of 
offices or income-producing improvements that would allow a 
developer to buy the land, which is rumored to be valued at 
$250 a foot, producing some $40 million. This RFP today 
has been stopped by the request of people like ARCO and a 


conservancy group that is working on the side, so that the 
conservancy-minded people and those that are against this 
procedure have a chance to organize and prepare for the 
creation of alternatives. We are currently in the process 
of doing that. 

From the standpoint of our firm, David and myself (who 
are both against the destruction of the library or, more 
importantly, the loss of the west park as an open space) 
have prepared a very exciting solution which would be based 
upon the creation of the existing library into a museum as 
described, hopefully sponsored and operated by an outside 
private source; and the use of the easterly side, eastern 
part, for the construction of a very low profile library 
which would extend in a north-south direction from the 
Mayflower Hotel across the east park and across Fifth Street 
to connect up with the property to the north of Fifth Street. 

This would be a very unusual urban plan, but what it 
would do, it v/ould give an opportunity for the reorganiza- 
tion of all the properties on the north side of Fifth Street 
lying between Grand and Hope and the movement of Hope Street — 
which now ramps down to the corner of Fifth and Grand, with 
a very bad traffic situation — to the north about 300 or 400 
feet, which would greatly improve the traffic and give an 
opportunity for the properties that lie north of Fifth Street 
to be collectively organized into one large site. This would 


in effect be a great urban plan and would allow another 
major structure to be flanking this great open area which 
the library creates , 

We have built a model of this, we have produced it on 
film and have presented the idea to several people as of 
this reading. It's a great idea, considered by 'Ar , Anderson 
as being a very exciting idea, and I'm about to present it 
to Ed [Edward] Helfeld, head of the CRA [Community 
Redevelopment Agency] , Which, hopefully, will be such a 
good idea that the combination of the Getty grant of the 
museum, which is the existing library, plus this new urban 
plan of the land surrounding the library site, would be so 
sensational that we somehow could cause it to be constructed. 
I don't know what the future will bring, but this is another 
idea in trying to remold the character of the central city. 
LASKEY: The structures that would be north of Fifth Street, 
like there's the [Southern California] Edison [Company] 
Building there and there are the Engstrom Apartments and I 
think there are parking lots behind that, would those 
buildings remain or are you talking about removing the 
buildings and building a whole new complex in that block? 
MARTIN: I'm talking about removing the Edison Building, the 
Engstrom Apartments, and the parking structure which lies to 
the west of the Engstrom, Now the ownership of these 
properties is in the hands of people who are our clients. 


The parking structure on the west is Rockefeller [Realty- 
Corporation] , the Engstrom Apartments is John Cushman [III] 
and Rob [Robert] Maguire [III], who has just teamed up with 
John, and the Edison Company is owned by someone that has 
it as an investment. Now this scheme, which would move 
that ramped street, the terminus of Hope Street, to the 
north of a new building, would create a new site with a 
Fifth Street frontage and an address that those properties 
do not now have. And it would create one of the most 
spectacular sites for a major structure in the city. 
LASKEY: There's a large retaining wall there now and a 
stairway. Would you remove those? Would you bring it down 
to sidewalk level? 

MARTIN: We would bring a portion of it down to the street 
and create a plaza, landscaped. And then we would have a 
portion of it at the Hope Street level, which is up about 
fifty feet. So that the whole pedestrain action which we 
have created in the design of the Wells Fargo Building on 
its east side, that whole pedestrian action would now start 
to be organized and hooked up with the top level of the 
library which spans Fifth Street, which would be another 
park. So that the whole pedestrian movement from upper 
Bunker Hill to lower Fifth and lower Flower would be managed 
in a spectacular kind of an arrangement, with escalators 
and trees and parks and so forth. It would be a very 
beautiful scheme. 


LASKEY: How would you get from across Fifth Street, how 

would you connect to the library? 

MARTIN: Well, the library building itself would span Fifth 

Street, up in the air. The library design would be a 

series of terraces, landscaped terraces, so its very low 

profile — 

LASKEY: Now this is the building you're suggesting putting 

in on the east of the-- 

MARTIN: Yes, that's right, I'll show you a model which we 

have right out here now. It's a great idea, and so v/e're 

in the process of pushing it. As I said, what the future 

will bring at this moment in time I don't know, 

LASKEY: It certainly is one of the more reasonable proposals 

MARTIN: It would be an exciting proposal. 

LASKEY: Have you talked to the [Los Angeles] Conservancy 

about it? 

MARTIN: Well, yes. I'm kind of on the fringes of that 

committee and a new committee being formed to move ahead 

with the conservancy under John Welborne's leadership. Yes, 

they're tuned in to what we're doing. They will take the 

position that they want nothing to disturb the parks of the 

library site. My proposition is to preserve the west park 

and build the library addition floating over the east park. 

So that the public would still have an open space, but it 


would be part of the library planning, and visually, hov/ever, 
you could penetrate the space which is now a park. 
LASKEY: The parking, I assume, would then be in the new 
structure that would be — 

MARTIN: The parking would be below Fifth Street and below 
the new structure, in a huge parking structure which would 
extend all the way north to the north side of those proper- 
ties that I have just described. It would hold 3,500 cars. 
So, that's the current status of the library, which has 
been under consideration for so many years, and it's a 
choice piece of property and everybody's trying to get it. 
LASKEY: We'll have to go back to that again, especially in 
these days of economic sort of confusion and fear. If 
Getty were to take over and create a new museum, would they 
buy the property? or would the city continue to own the 

MARTIN: I'm certain that the city would continue to ov;n 
the property. My guess would be that they would pay for 
the reconstruction of the library into a museum and would 
have a contract to operate the museum, and, of course, presum- 
ably the museum would be named after [j. Paul] Getty. 
Bob Anderson, who is promoting the idea now, is thinking of 
early American Natives and the movement of several collections, 
like the one in the Southwest Museum, down to this location, 
which would offer a much more public participation. 


and movement of several other early American museum 
collections on in. I suggested to him that I knew of a 
collection in Mexico City that is in storage, a lot of 
which pertains to Southern California, and so you can see 
the possibilities of making this an international museum 
with iMexico and the United States participating, which is 
much needed at this present moment in time. We really need 
to get a coalescence of the thinking, and Los Angeles is 
the place to coalesce Mexico and the United States. 
LASKEY: How will you begin to get this program across to 
the people that need to — ? 

MARTIN: Well, we have produced so far this model and a 
videotape and plans, and the next thing that I'm going to 
do is to present that to the Community Redevelopment Agency 
staff, David and I will do that. Following that, we 
probably will present it to our clients that own much of 
this property, and following that, we probably would present 
it to the library commission and/or maybe the councilman 
who hates to be left out, Gilbert Lindsay. And the mayor, 
without a doubt, the mayor. So the process will be one of 
the usual strategies to inform people of a new idea, and 
of course if the Getty thing was hooked onto it, it would 
be the greatest [Los Angeles] Bicentennial gift the city 
could ever receive, 
LASKEY: Well, with the support of Getty and ARCO, you have 


some mighty allies — 
MARTIN: And Ed Carter. 

LASKEY: — which I think that the conservancy and preser- 
vation groups haven't really had until now, 
MARTIN: Right, 

LASKEY: Fighting a lone battle, 

MARTIN: That's right. It would really do something. So 
it looks like it's strong. So that's the way it goes there, 

LASKEY: Well, preservation, historic preservation, is a 
kind of a knotty problem in any event, and I think most 
particularly in Los Angeles we haven't been too careful 
about preserving our past. 

MARTIN: I quite agree, and too many of us, even like myself, 
have really not paid much attention to it. We participate 
when we become aligned with projects like Bicentennial or 
the El Pueblo or Grauman ' s Million Dollar Theatre or the 
Bradbury Building. We participate, but we haven't been 
leaders until two things have happened: one, the library 
issue that I have just described; and also, which I have not 
described, the latest plan which we in the Bicentennial have 
developed for the creation of a North Civic Center plan. 
I could describe that to you, if you wish, 
LASKEY: Yes, please do. 
MARTIN: Another story. 


LASKEY: Good. 

MARTIN: El Pueblo has for twenty or thirty years been 
limping along as a state historic park. The charter includes 
the three entities: the state, the county, and the city. 
The city is charged under contract with managing El Pueblo's 
affairs. Any improvements or modifications have to be 
approved by the other parties of course; it's a joint powers 
agreement. The Bicentennial Committee has adopted as one 
of its most important priorities the redevelopment of 
El Pueblo. We've been working for two and a half years, 
ever since we started with the Los Angeles 200 Committee, 
to try to find a way that would lead to the redevelopment 
of El Pueblo. As I said, it's been a fractured attempt by 
many participants, most of whom have had a bureaucratic 
alignment and none of whom has been able to bring together 
all of the various entities that are part of the action. 

We in the Bicentennial went to Mayor Bradley early in 
our activity with a very simple summary letter which said 
to him that our conclusion of our analysis was that the 
only way that El Pueblo, as the city's founding place, 
could be made into an acceptable park would be to close 
Main Street and route the traffic around El Pueblo; secondly, 
that the management of the various properties of the various 
entities — state, county, and city — would have to include 
the agreement that the property management would be the sole 


responsibility of one of the entities, 


MARTIN: That was almost the end of our conmunications with 

the mayor. iMuch work has been done by lots of good people 

trying to find a way to make this happen. Behind the 

scenes the great resistance came from two sources, the city 

traffic department and the RTD [Rapid Transit District] , 

that they all in lengthy reports gave a myriad of reasons 

why it couldn't be done. So in the latest meeting which 

the mayor called, including all the affected departments 

and some other institutions that were part of this area, we 

heard the usual negative report by the traffic department, 

after which I made a strong appeal to the mayor (who was 

heading this special meeting) that what had been said by 

Mr. [Donald] Howery, the head of the traffic department, 

was true. 

LASKEY: Well, what was his basis? 

MARTIN: His basis was that you couldn't possibly manage the 

traffic if you closed Main Street, giving all sorts of 

figures and traffic movements and congestion times and all 

of that. 

LASKEY: Now, where were you going to close Main Street 

from? from Main to the [Santa Ana] Freeway? 

MARTIN: From the freeway to Sunset, So I said that there's 

no question that his technical input was correct and I for 


one wouldn't argue not one iota of the report; but, in 
light of this, it's very evident to me that we need a 
larger plan than the plan of El Pueblo, that v/e needed 
what has now become the North Civic Center Plan, which 
includes Chinatown, it includes Union Station, which is 
becoming the property now of the city or Caltrans, and 
includes El Pueblo and, even possibly, may include Little 

Now the mayor seized upon my suggestion, which hope- 
fully would end up to be an official plan adopted as a 
Bicentennial attainment and adopted as the plan which all 
entities would follow with the improvements as they go 
forward through the years. Mayor [Bradley] seized upon this 
and gave very firm instructions to the planning department to 
bring to him a comprehensive- list of the parties affected 
and to start the process of developing an agreed-upon plan 
which would integrate all the activities of all those 
entities that I just mentioned in one grand plan. 

And if one thinks about it, and you think of Chinatown, 
which is immediately north of El Pueblo, you think of Union 
Station, which is the future center of transportation of the 
city, of the downtown area, and you think of going further, 
we have a well-developed Little Tokyo and we have the North 
Civic Center Mall. All of those areas are adjacent. They all 
have much in common: they're multi-ethnic, they have 


commercial aspects, and they have entertainment/visitor 
aspects . 

I'm hopeful the plan which is now emerging, and I have 
fortunately been able to contribute something to that, v/ill 
embody a series of planned elements which will make those 
entities a singular, flowing plan rather than dispersed 
areas, unplanned, at the present time. For example, strong 
landscape motifs, mini-bus systems, pedestrian paths, bridges 
over streets, second-level kinds of commercialism — all could 
create this big area into one of the finest world-renowned 
cosmopolitan areas in existence, I honestly think that's 
going to happen in time, and hopefully the concept and a plan 
will emerge as a Bicentennial accomplishment. So there seems 
to me to be progress, and there's a lot of enthusiasm about 
it at this moment, 

LASKEY: It makes such good sense, 

MARTIN: It makes a lot of sense. To overcome the fractured 
nature of our established society is almost impossible, and 
without some kind of a catalyst it just can't happen. We're 
using the Bicentennial as the excuse and the catalyst to try 
to make some of this happen. [tape recorder turned off] 

I haven't seen what they're doing- at the city planning 
department. I have had several meetings with Reuben Lovret, 
who is a very imaginative person, and who followed up on my 
expressed opinion that we need some kind of a ribbon tying 


this whole thing up together and has come back with many 

ideas that, hopefully, will get into that plan that will 

cause a cohesion of the various parts. It's a complex 

urban grouping, but that by its very nature makes it 


LASKEY: Well, now they've opened up the [Merced] Theatre, 

essentially with "Spectrum"; that is, they're using it for 

space now. What's the status of Pico House at this point? 

MARTIN: Pico House has been reinforced for earthquakes, 

has been resupplied with electrical pov/er in their major 

system, and is now being submitted to private entities who 

hopefully may take it over as a commercial operation. So 

far there hasn't been any results from that request on the 

part of the city. For whatever reason I don't know, but I 

have a strong feeling that if we were ever able to close 

Main Street and make it into a singular, wonderful. 

El Pueblo park that these commercial possibilities would 

flourish. And that would be very good for the city of Los 

Angeles to have an exciting park, in addition to Olvera 


LASKEY: Are there any plans to refurbish Olvera Street? 

I had heard once that they were thinking about taking those 

little center booths out and opening it up the way it was 

originally, and I wondered if that's still — 

MARTIN: I have no knowledge of them, although right at the 


moment there are two bills before the [California] State 

Legislature to more or less legalize the idea of a group of 

private merchants collectively contracting with the city to 

further Olvera Street as a single entity rather than a series 

of little merchants. T don't know about the merit of that; 

that is a broiling kind of a situation. But that really 

doesn't stop the big idea of organizing the whole park into 

a singular entity. 

LASKEY: What I was thinking or wondering is if the Pico 

House opened up and if the Garnier building ever gets 

finished that that would be even more of a reason to do 

what you're trying to do — 

MARTIN: Oh yes. 

LASKEY: — because here you have even more people down 

there and you have this whole complex that's sitting right 

there that really cries out to be made into a mall and then 

to be expanded. 

MARTIN: Right. Yes, I agree completely. Also I think 

that the Merced Theatre would become a very great success, 

but that's an expensive project and we've only remodeled 

the lower floor into the "Spectrum" exhibit. So, these are 

all possibilities. You see if we get the big plan accomplished 

and adopted that someday it could happen, 

LASKEY: Think how long it took to get the Civic Center 

itself in, how many years — 


MARTIN: All the years it took and the — And you know, it 

could have been so much better and we could still modify 

it to include the bridges across the north-south streets, 

and that could be so exciting. 

LASKEY: Well, I think I read once you had a plan, or had 

proposed a plan, of taking along the Los Angeles River 

back behind the [Union] Station, the tracks, and putting 

bike paths in and green strips. 

MARTIN: Yeah. 

LASKEY: Which is essentially a discarded area, at this 

point, railroad tracks; it would be North Spring — 

MARTIN: You know you could really dam up the channel and 

make a lake out of it> and that would be pretty good looking. 

That would be a wonderful thing to have, and I think it 

could be managed. You've got a line channel in there now. 

It's be a great place for a lake. 

LASKEY: How different it would look. 

MARTIN: Yeah. Well, there's endless ideas like that and 

here we are day after day attempting to find ways to 

accomplish them, and it's almost like a dedication. 

LASKEY: With the Olympics coming in 19 8 4 that might become 

a positive incentive too, 

MARTIN: Positive incentive, it's a positive incentive to 

do many things. I'm sorry the People Mover didn't make it. 

LASKEY: Well, it didn't make it this time, but I think 


there's always the possibility — Again, I think we're 
going through a rather difficult financial time in the 
country, and a lot of these plans possibly have to be put 

MARTIN: I think the solution to the financial problem 
will be greatly influenced by the emergence of Los Angeles 
as the financial center of the West and the Pacific Rim. 
Like New York is the financial business center on the 
eastern seaboard, there's no question that Los Angeles's 
destiny is similar, and there's every evidence that it's 
happening now. 

LASKEY: But don't you find — I should say, do you find, 
having been a lifetime Los Angeles resident, a renewed 
interest in downtown Los Angeles that just wasn't there 

MARTIN: Oh, it's a very strong interest. The fact that 
we are constructing important residences in downtown 
Los Angeles is one of the most encouraging things, and 
Los Angeles will contain many, many blocks of fine apart- 
ments. We're already there on Bunker Hill, This is only 
the start of a great urban experience, I think. The main 
thing that I think is important is we're talking about some 
very important issues when we're talking about open spaces, 
rooftop parks and people movers and transportation, 
LASKEY: Certainly transportation is an issue that has to 


be discussed and thought out in depth, because what's 
going to happen to Los Angeles transportation wise? 
MARTIN: Well, I have come a long ways in favor of the 
People Mover as a mode of transportation encircling the 
downtown area. And I firmly believe that the freeway 
system must be supplemented by fixed-rail subways or 
other kinds of arrangements. Even though the economics 
on the surface of it does not apparently work out. There's 
no question that our freeways are becoming parking lots, 
and as great as they are — And we should complete the 
freeway system that would be the next twenty years; if we 
could do that it would be just wonderful. But, someday, 
the automobile's going to have to play another different 
role, and I say that as the vice-chairman of the auto club 
[Automobile Club of Southern California] . 
LASKEY: But I think it's only a sensible thing to say. 
MARTIN: Oh yes. Oh yes. Economically, I believe that 
transportation has to be judged as an element of a collec- 
tive society, the cost of which must be born by all entities 
and with due consideration to the share of the local 
commercial institutions that border transportation routes. 
All you have to do is enjoy the subway of Paris and realize 
that you couldn't get around Paris without that subway. 
The taxicab situation is terrible, and the subway is just 
great. London is the same way, and Washington, D.C. is 


starting to be. So the great American cities have them, 
and they all cost a lot of money and they're always broke, 
and yet it seems to me that the economics of urban centers 
is always kind of a touch-and-go situation. 


MAY 5, 19 81 

LASKEY: Before we go on with our discussion of transporta- 
tion, I would like to backtrack and clarify a couple of 
pieces of information, something we've been talking about. 
We were talking about El Pueblo, but we never clearly- 
defined the area that we were talking about, and I think 
that there is a definite area that is El Pueblo. 
MARTIN: I'm not certain that I can define it accurately, 
but El Pueblo is a state park, historic park. It is owned 
by the state, the county, and the city, and it is managed 
by the city of Los Angeles. The boundaries as I know them 
are: on the west I believe it is Hill Street or Broadway, 
which is the location of the Fort Moore monumental wall; 
on the south is the freeway, the Hollywood Freeway; on the 
east is the Union Station; and on the north is Sunset 
Boulevard. Now there's some slight modifications to those 
general perimeters. What is it, in addition to that, that 

LASKEY: Well, that was what I wanted to know. I simply 
wanted to find the boundaries. I did have one question. 
There have been some rumors that the original cemetery that 
was attached to the plaza church, the Campo Santo, as a 
[Los Angeles] Bicentennial project might be restored. Is 


there any possibility that that would happen? 
MARTIN: I don't think that there's a possibility that 
we can make anything happen on that specific site during 
the Bicentennial year. We have attempted to kindle interest 
in a redevelopment of that area, and at one time we proposed 
that that specific area be converted to a park which would 
be dedicated to the king of Spain, who was scheduled to be 
our guest but had to cancel his visit because of local 
problems within Spain. So as I see it now there is not the 
motivation at this particular time to accomplish any improve- 
ment on that site. If we can accomplish the adoption of an 
overall master plan agreed to by all of those institutions 
and departments that are involved as a Bicentennial contri- 
bution, we'll be lucky, and we are working diligently on 
that subject right now with the creation of a mayor's 
special committee called a blue ribbon committee, consisting 
of about six representatives of the private sector and six 
representatives of government, and these would be from the 
highest level of respect and position, 
LASKEY: That would be to redo the whole area. 
MARTIN: That would be to create a plan which is being 
formulated now in the planning department of the city, 
to solve the planning of the El Pueblo area, plus Chinatown 
to the north, the railroad station to the east, and even 
perhaps Little Tokyo to the south. This being a technique 


for solving the traffic movement problem, which is the one 
thing that always stops the closure of Main Street, as it 
goes through the center of El Pueblo. 

LASKEY: And then I had a couple of questions going back to 
our discussion on the library and your plans and formulations 
for a new site. It included — and we sort of touched on this, 
but I just wanted to clarify it — it included the tearing 
down of what they call the No. One Bunker Hill building, 
or the Edison Building, and the Engstrom Apartments, and I 
wondered if you foresaw any problem with the conservancy 
groups, particularly with the removal of the Engstrom 

MARTIN: I'm not sure that the conservancy group that is 
now working under John Welborne's leadership, is this one 
branch of the various conservancy groups? 
LASKEY: Well, preservationists in general — 
MARTIN: I have resigned from that group in good stead, 
because I mentioned to them that I thought that I had a 
conflict of interest, and the conflict of interest arises 
from a difference in belief between the conservancy group 
and myself as to what is important in the saving of spaces 
and the library, I have taken the position that we should 
save the library and convert it to a museum and that we 
should construct the new library on the east park, to the 
east of the present library, and one scheme would be to 


expand that library as a low-rise, stepped, terraced building 
form across Fifth Street and become contiguous to the 
Edison Building, or the site of the Edison Building. In 
my thinking I wouldn't hesitate to recommend tearing dov/n 
the Edison Building or the apartments or even getting rid 
of the old switching building of the Department of Water 
and Power . 

LASKEY: That's across Grand is it not? 
MARTIN: That is on Hope, 
LASKEY: On Hope. 

MARTIN: So, whether or not this can be accomplished is a 
big question. Right now things are very upset amongst the 
property owners because they each have been trying to gain 
a command over the other, and we have some very upset people 
who believe that our plan might have dulled their individual 
opportunity to gain. This happens to be local, but it's 
serious, and just how our plan will be received by planners 
and library commissioners and so forth I don't know. It 
may be well received, as it has been so far. The critiques 
of it have not arisen yet, but they probably will, 
LASKEY: As I understand it now, and our discussion before, 
what the city has offered or what they are proposing, what . 
they're searching for, is that someone will buy the library 
land for $40 million — I think you said was its value — and 
then supply the city with a library at a new site. Now 


with your plan, the city would lose that $40 million in 
income and still have to pay for the library. Would that — 
What does that do to the city? I mean, where does that put 
your stand as far as — ? 

MARTIN: Well, just to get it in a little bit more accurate 
perspective, the city is considering requesting proposals 
from developers wherein they would lease the land on a long- 
term lease to a developer and that developer would in return 
provide the city with a new library on some site within the 
downtown area. The new library as it is described in the 
RFP is a $70 million proposition. And since the library 
site must live up to a 6:1 floor area ratio criteria — 
LASKEY: What does that mean? 

MARTIN: It is the amount of space that can be built on a 
piece of land. Six times the area of the land would be, in 
this case, six times 220,000 square feet of land, or 
1,320,000 square feet; but that isn't enough building to 
pay for a $70-million library. The economics do not work 
out in my estimation and in the estimation of every other 
developer that I have talked with. So, in weighing the 
several ways that might be applied to get a new library, you 
have that scheme just described wherein a developer tears 
down the existing library, builds a new building of 
1,300,000 square feet, let's say, on that site, and, in return 
for the use of the land for fifty years, builds a new library 


on some other site that costs $70 million. So these two 
companion proposals which knit together are not even 
logical from an economic point of view. 

Now what I've proposed is that we retain the existing 
library, seek a donor to rebuild it and convert it into a 
museum and operate it as a museum, and use the east park 
land for a new low-rise library, and sell the development 
rights that flow from the site to landowners so they can 
build bigger buildings on their land. In doing this we 
could create a very interesting urban space, because the 
library and the new museum would all be low rise. Now the 
economics of this proposal also show a shortfall of maybe 
$40 million, but on the plus side you have a new museum 
operated by someone and a new library, which is in accor- 
dance with the city's needs. So on the asset side of it 
the city comes out very far ahead by using the land that is 
available on the east side of the present library. 
LASKEY: You've also preserved the library building, which 
is a plus in itself, the preservation of that building. 
MARTIN: That's right; the preservation of the building and 
converting it to a museum is perfectly acceptable to everyone 
I've ever talked to. So, on balance, it appears to me that 
our rationale is far superior to the other rationales. Even 
though there is a shortfall between the value of the develop- 
ment rights that flow from that site and the cost of the new 


library. As I said, it's a very controversial subject and 
before it's ever settled there's going to be a lot of weeping 
and gnashing of teeth, I'm sure. 

LASKEY: Well, there already has been. For how many years 
has this been going on? It's pitiful, 
MARTIN: Right, it's been a long time, 

LASKEY: Well, just one last aspect since we got into 
discussing preservation. A, C. Martin and Associates has 
done preservation work with the Subway [Terminal] Building 
and other buildings downtown. You are obviously concerned 
with the library, you've mentioned the Bradbury Building. So 
preservation, historical preservation, is something that 
you're interested in. Could you define, is there a criteria 
for preservation? When should a building be preserved, what 
are the standards, the criteria, for preservation? 
MARTIN: Well, I believe that buildings that have unique 
qualities and are representative of a certain period of 
architectural development and are particularly located within 
the plan of the downtown area, in this case, so that they 
can take a very strong role in the appraisal of their value, 
then I believe that they should be preserved. Certainly the 
library and the Bradbury Building are two prime examples. 
The Edison Building is a very fine building; it is a modern 
building in lots of ways. And even though it's a very hand- 
some building in some respects, I believe it stands in the 


way of developing a magnificent urban space, especially in 
light of the library proposal I've described, I don't 
think it has to be preserved, it wouldn't be bad, but it 
doesn't have to be. The [Engstrom] apartments which are 
adjacent to it I think are not important at all. So, 
perhaps that description doesn't cover all the considerations, 
but that's the way I feel about it. 

LASKEY: Now, v/hat about — Well, for example. Heritage Square, 
which is I think a private restoration project that is going 
on. Hale House, the criticism and sometimes of the Pico 
House, too, has been that perhaps it's being restored too 
meticulously, that to actually restore something back to 
exactly what it was isn't necessary, but for reuse or 

MARTIN: Well, I would be inclined to attempt to restore it 
fairly accurately in my appraisal. An amateur can destroy 
the quality of architecture very easily: the quality being 
perhaps the unique way that materials and forms were 
applied to represent-- the thinking of the architects then, 
the people of that time. I would be inclined to restore 
fairly meticulously not only the building itself but as 
much of the environs of that building: for example, the 
relationship to street spaces or street furniture and hard- 
ware would be important, I think El Pueblo and the Pico 
House should be restored fairly accurately. I've said the 


automobile has split El Pueblo in half and, that v/e should 
restore it to an original open plaza, which of course had 
wagons and horses in it; that we should restore it to be 
closer to its original use, which was the place for the 
people to be. The only way to do that is to get the auto- 
mobile out of it and route it around it and create it into 
a park (as has been done in London so many times) . 
LASKEY: That brings us back to our discussion of transpor- 
tation and it might be a good idea to start v/ith what is 
the place of the car in downtown Los Angeles? Can it be 
controlled, eliminated, or modified? 

MARTIN: Well, the automobile is really a personal thing, 
and one has to have the automobile to be mobile in downtown 
Los Angeles today. You can walk about six blocks, but that's 
about it. We have a very modest form of public transporta- 
tion in the bus system, and we really don't employ the use 
of buses in our everyday life; so at the present time we are 
counting on the automobile, which is, you know, an 
outstanding means of private transportation, I feel that 
the People Mover was really a very good thing because, like 
the Loop in Chicago or many other public transportation 
systems, it is something that weaves through the urban core, 
that gets you closer for example from here [Union Bank 
Building] to the City Hall, gets you closer than even, 
sometimes, the automobile. 


So, since there's a conflict between the automobile 
on the street and the people on the street, which conflict 
we're trying to eliminate by raising the people to the upper 
levels, generally, and the parks on top of the garage 
portions are some of the improvements, and putting in 
pedestrian bridges, I believe it's a very good direction 
and as time goes on it should be enhanced considerably. 
When the people are elevated, the automobile is in less 
conflict, and since the biggest conflict, really, is that 
the people stop the free flowing action of the automobile, 
especially at the signals and right turns, people crossing 
the same street will stop all the traffic and create 
congestion. So, if we can remove the people and get them 
up on the upper levels, the present automobile situation 
could be greatly improved. For the time being, and for 
how many years I don't know, we can get by with that system. 

There have been alternative schemes that we have thought 
of in past history, I say "we," Ed and myself particularly, 
wherein we could remove automobiles from the core of the 
city very easily by creating what we called "dispersal 
viaducts." Now if you think of the Fourth Street viaduct, 
which comes in off the freeways and without interruption 
places you right in the middle of the downtown area, that's 
a perfect example of the movement of automobiles right into 
the core without creating congestion. That thesis could be 


carried on to where other streets could deliver automobiles 
two miles farther out towards the perimeter of the city and 
spread the congestion instead of having it concentrated in 
the downtown. You could have, let's say, a series of ten 
dispersal viaducts that would load or unload the city, 
because there v/ould be no cross traffic; they would be 
viaducts above the regular street system. That is probably 
a lot less costly than the freeway systems as we have them 

The freeway systems as we have them now have become 
highly congested, not only because of the load, which is in 
excess of the freeways' design, but the concentration 
around the downtown area is not well managed. At certain 
times freeways are loaded and stop. Mow, of course, the 
freeway system has never been completed because the state 
government has cut it off, and whether it ever will be or 
not is a big question. So I think, at this point in time, 
that the pedestrian system as proposed by the city planning 
department and the Community Redevelopment Agency is really 
excellent; that is, headways, parks, and so forth, because 
it separates the people from the streets. 

LASKEY: Now, that will work in the newer areas, Figueroa, 
Spring, and Flower. 
MARTIN: Yeah, right. 
LASKEY: What about the older part of downtown, say. 


Seventh and Broadway, down in that area? 

MARTIN: It really doesn't work. And I don't see how any 
redevelopment will occur that will make it work. Because 
the whole marketing system of the city — the shops and the 
office buildings and the banks and so forth — is geared to 
the pedestrian on the sidewalk. 

LASKEY: Way back in 1969 you proposed a series of group 
parking structures upon main arteries and then mini-buses 
and walking or, you know, a people mover into the core — 
is that still a valid idea? 

MARTIN: Well, I think it's very valid, and the people mover 
that's recently been proposed included peripheral parking 
structures and an elevated people-mover system. As ele- 
mentary as that is, it's in the right direction for relieving 
congestion. Now that really doesn't solve the problem of 
people on the sidewalk having an interface with the automo- 
biles on the streets. If you remember, the reason that the 
streetcars were eliminated many years ago was that there was 
a conflict in the downtown areas between the streetcars 
and the automobile and the people, and as a matter of fact, 
it was so bad that only one automobile line could travel and 
traverse around a streetcar in the congested area. It was 
just too many conveyances in one place; so the streetcars 
went out, and the automobile then had that lane. So there 
are just many ways in which automobiles can be encouraged to 


be more remote from the congested areas. But it takes 
planning, it takes control, and the merchants won't let it 
happen. So even though it will happen someday by force and 
demand, these things are terribly slow. 

LASKEY: Well, you said earlier that you've come a long 
way in your thinking about transportation and that — I think 
you were referring to the People Mover, alternative systems, 
freeway supplements. What was your original thinking on 

MARTIN: Well, I originally felt that the more separation 
of the automobile and people and the use of peripheral 
garages was the dominant thing, and I think that even today 
it is true. I have come a long way perhaps in the belief 
that rapid fixed-rail transit does have a role in the urban 
design; certainly the People Mover does have, as exemplified 
in so many places, especially the Chicago Loop, And the 
proposal down here was in some ways very handsome. The 
fixed-rail transportation, which is found in Paris and 
Washington, D.C., and Toronto, and is proposed for the Wilshire 
corridor, would--if connected up with local surface transpor- 
tation at the stations — would provide a great relief for a 
lot of people. 

The problem that I fight is the same age-old problem, 
[which] is that the cost of doing that is not acceptable if 
one measures the number of people served and the burden on 


the community from a tax point of view, and therein the 
enthusiasm wains. I guess that it's economically impossible 
to justify that cost unless one spreads that cost over the 
entire city as a burden that the city must pay for this kind 
of transportation. That rationale is accepted by a lot of 
people; it is not accepted by the anti-fixed-rail people. 
And here I am the vice-chairman of the Automobile Club 
[of Southern California] [laughter], and it really isn't 
accepted by them; that is, the staff, although the Automobile 
Club takes the position that it encourages all forms of 
transportion in a balanced way. 

If I have come a long ways, it is perhaps the acceptance 
of the thesis that a public transportation system, as expen- 
sive as it may be, is part of the cost of building a city 
and needs to be shared by the entire city. And even though 
it's not cost effective in so many ways, it is quite an asset, 
and everything within a city is not cost effective when 
measured alone. So that kind of a philosophy, or rationale 
if you want to call it, is extremely debatable; however, 
someday the cities will have many other costly elements and 
they may be taking the form of air transportation within the 
urban core of some kind. I suppose the measure is whether 
or not a city survives economically, and there's a lot of 
them in trouble today. So this whole growth and economic 
problem is with us today, and I suppose as it always was. 


I do feel the need of better transportation, however, 
because the freeway systems are now clogged, and with very 
little hope of unclogging them unless something supplants 
them — either the freeway network is expanded, that would 
help, but that would eventually be clogged, too. So, it's a 
constant dilemma. 

LASKEY: Well, one aspect of it that I know you have strong 
feelings about is the importance of the private sector 
working with the public sector in developing programs for 
the city and in transportation. What role would the private 
sector take on in developing a transportation system? 
Obviously, you have changed, you have come a long way in 
your thinking. Isn't it possible that the rest of the private 
sector will make those changes? 

MARTIN: With the present administration in Washington, the 
private sector has taken on a great deal more importance. 
Principally because federalism has been slashed at by the 
Reagan administration and the budget has been slashed to 
attempt to get into a balanced, healthy economic situation 
as far as the United States is concerned, I truly believe 
that the bureaucracy which has been created by the Democratic 
regime and the advocacy of welfare programs of many kinds 
has brought us to the point where we expect more as a 
society than we can afford. Now, that's perhaps a natural 
cycle and we're now going around the curve on a different 


The private sector, so-called, has come a long ways in 
realizing that the real strength of the development of a 
community must spring from the people and not their govern- 
ment. Government has assumed the role, however, under the 
federalist kind of sponsorship, wherein the members of the 
bureaucracy have been assigned charters, have assumed charters, 
have done their thing to the best of their ability expecting 
funding, most of it from the federal government, and have 
created an isolation unto themselves that has not reached 
out and included the private sector. Now, sure, public 
hearings have always been held and it's a most difficult 
process. But I believe that with the revolution of the 
people on taxes, as exemplified by Proposition 13 passed a 
few years ago, that now with the reduction of grant funds 
from Washington that the private sector is going to have to 
step up and be counted and be participant in public decisions. 
By that I'm thinking of the private — call it the business 
sector or power structure, those people that have an economic 
interest and a social interest, which would be enhanced so 
that there will be more of the government-private sector 
partnership that is talked about so often. And I think 
we're at the turning point now. 

LASKEY: You've said, I think, that it's up to the private 
sector to provide the initiative and the public sector to 


provide the coordination. 

MARTIN: Well, I believe that, because I believe that the 
private sector really is more representative of the will of 
the people generally than the public sector. Mow, I use the 
word bureaucracy because we've allowed ourselves to drift 
into bureaucracy instead of democracy, and that conflict is 
raging now. We must eliminate the bureaucratic viev;point 
and get back to where the government employees really are 
the servants of the people. That's what they're supposed to 
be, rather than serving themselves. 

LASKEY: How would this operate in downtown Los Angeles, for 
example, because that's the area that we're talking about 
now, the revitalization of downtown? How would you see the 
various sectors working together? 

MARTIN: Well, I believe that our government as it is 
structured--and it's called the weak mayor system and a 
strong council system, along with the bureaucracy which 
exists in the various government departments — I believe that 
structure has no room for strong leadership on a citywide 
basis, unless the mayor can take a much stronger position 
and the bureaucracy of the departments is limited more 
than it is now. We are experimenting with that very subject 
when we are advancing this El Pueblo renovation and we're 
doing what is designated as the North Civic Center Task Force 
in trying to solve the problem of closing down Main Street 


as it goes through El Pueblo. We have structured and 
presented to the mayor a format for accomplishing just that, 
creation of a public group and creation of a private sector 
group all acting as one blue-ribbon advisory committee to 
further the process of consolidating the opinions of the 
institutions that are involved as well as the plans that 
are involved. I think that's a very good system, and hope- 
fully more things like that can be done in the future. 
LASKEY: Wouldn't it be to the benefit — keeping now on the 
subject of transportation--to the private sector to eliminate 
the congestion in downtown, to see that parking places are 
provided right now? I think that now it's almost impossible 
to park in downtown Los Angeles. Even if you can drive down, 
you can't park down there. 
MARTIN: Right. 

LASKEY: Is there anything that you could see, any kind of 
coalition between the private and the public sector, in 
helping with the parking situation if not the traffic situa- 

MARTIN: I believe it is happening when the private sector 
endorses a people mover, which they have done, because that 
included peripheral parking and includes the minimization of 
the use of the automobile. The answer is definitely that 
the private sector has to find an answer to the high cost of 
parking. Right now the private business sector is subsidizing 


the parking of their employees with large amounts of money. 
And that's really a burden on the whole society that should 
be managed a little bit better. 

LASKEY: I think along with that you have talked, too, 
about the quality of life, and especially again in relating 
to downtown and to Los Angeles that more attention has to be 
given to the environment, not just to the architecture but 
to the whole environment of living downtown or of being 

MARTIN: The downtown area is now starting to get housing 
and the plan of the CRA and the city planning group are 
starting to bring in the separation of the people from the 
automobile and the free movement of pedestrians. I believe 
that all of that is conducive to a different quality of life 
because as those people participate in the environment of a 
well-planned city, they will then enjoy more human-scaled 
places, like small restaurants and gathering places in the 
sun and a little bit more of the leisure aspects that the 
city can provide. And that's just happening to Los Angeles 
now. It's just starting to happen, with some great potential. 

Because if we look back, Los Angeles has been devoid 
of cultural things, has been devoid of even trees until we 
brought in and planted all those trees, as you know. And 
it is slowly happening that the human-scaled environment is 
developing all through downtown, not only in the new western 


portion but even in the old portion, where the Mexican 
population particularly are using Broadway as their shopping 
area. So there's a movement, I think, that is beneficial, 
that has to do with the quality of life downtown, particularly 

if one lives downtown, as they do in most other cities. 
LASKEY: Well, I'm going back a ways now; I have a quote here 
from you, from 1963, in which you say, "The architect of 
today is sought out because he deals in broad aspects of 
social need. The architect of tomorrow will be a master 
planner of total environments." You said that in 1963, and 
essentially I think that's what's happened, as far as certainly 
your relationship to the development of downtown. 
MARTIN: Well, that's almost twenty years ago, and I think 
that the words are the same, but there has been a marked 
evolution of thinking that has occurred in those twenty 
years. The planning aspect of the total is superseding the 
trespasses of the individual, as it relates to using the 
qualities of the city to enhance his personal gain. As I've 
often said, one of the marked examples of private interests 
serving public interests is the development of all the parks 
on the roofs of the parking structures, which are by law 
open to the public but maintained by the private sector. 
And that is, in my mind, a torch in the brightness of the 
city, that this is really an elimination of the greed that 
is inherent in the subject of private ownership of land and 


facilities, and to the exclusion of the public. And I 
believe a city is a place that includes all of the people, 
with privileges to be mobile and to participate. Otherwise 
the city would be a series of cells owned by individuals, 
with fences around them. 

LASKEY: Well, maybe the difference would be if you look at 
Spring Street and you look at Flower Street today, the 
difference in the accessibility of the buildings and the 
spaces between the buildings. 

MARTIN: That's a perfect example; it was of course caused 
by the demands of the city for greater amounts of space 
and the elimination of the limit height on the buildings and 
the changing of the density factors, which limited the amount 
of improvements that could be made upon property, from 13:1 
down to 6:1 now, and that's a big change. So open space 
results, and less density results. Hopefully, a balance can 
be found that will include enough density to make civilian 
contacts real and fruitful and enough managed open space to 
create environments that somehow seem appealing. 
LASKEY: Well, how is the idea of growth built into your 
system? I think you also talked about the mobility of 
people, their idea of moving and growing and expanding. In 
the old system, using Spring Street as an example, there 
was no real room for expansion or growth in that system; it 
was verv solid. 


MARTIN: Well, we had wall-to-wall buildings, as we say. 
The limit height was 150 feet or thirteen stories and there 
was no setbacks required on the buildings. So they banged up 
against each other wall to wall. That did not leave any 
open space for the pedestrian, and in effect it was a very 
detrimental system, and still is, although it's opening up 
because they're tearing down a lot of them now. But those 
buildings are obsolete, and they do not have good access, 
even from the freeway system.. Spring Street has very poor 
access, and that's a fault of the design of the freeway system, 
But these things will change in time. 


MAY 5, 19 81 

LASKEY: The design of the freeway system was probably not 
good, but there's also been a tremendous change in design of 
buildings, designed for flexibility and for change, I would 

MARTIN: In the buildings which are constructed in the 
business core and which are often high-rise, the old business 
of vertical transportation comes into play. The optimum is 
to incorporate floor areas that match the ability of the 
elevator systems to carry the people in and out, and that's 
a very refined science. So we find several factors: this 
vertical transportation as one factor, and then the adapta- 
bility of the interior space to almost any use adds another 
factor. And all of our buildings these days include flexible 
partitions and, hopefully, the interior stairs and elevator 
shafts that are convenient to this perimeter space. 

If you recall, it wasn't too long ago that we had on 
the outside of buildings something called the fire towers, 
and to get to a fire tower you had to create a corridor going 
from the middle of the building through rentable space to an 
outside stairway, like a fire escape. And we were the ones 
who designed a new system in this Union Bank Square, which is 
called a ventilated vestibule system and [v/hich] is now 
standard. There are no perimeter corridors going to the 


outside; all the corridors are in the core, on the inside of 
the building, and the staircases, stair shafts, have vestibules 
leading into them, which have ventilation systems. They're 
under pressure, and any smoke that finds its way towards the 
stairway is blown out instead of sucked in. So, that was 
one little design solution that we invented and is now the 
standard in office building design. 

LASKEY: But I would think then a series of these kinds of 
changes and design improvements would also leave you more 
space to work with because you need less space for units — 
air conditioning, heating, cooling. I imagine that there 've 
been a lot of refinements in these areas. 

MARTIN: Yes, the building efficiency — that is, net usable 
to gross square footage--has improved from a factor of 
maybe 75 percent in some of the older designs up to as much 
as 85 percent today. And that is an important point because 
all of that additional efficiency really returns greater 
profits to the owners of the building and makes them a more 
economically feasible improvement. The same thing is true 
now in the energy-efficient mechanical electrical systems 
that we are designing to meet the national demands because 
of the energy shortage. Our buildings use 50 percent of the 
energy today as compared to 100 percent only ten years ago. 
LASKEY: What sort of specific changes, modifications, have 
you made? 


MARTIN: Well, we have eliminated the extravagant use of 
electricity for lighting around the perimeter of the building, 
For example, the light fixtures which are located next to 
the outside wall are on a separate switching system that is 
controlled by light detectors; so they're often turned off 
during a good bright day, and we save all that electricity. 

Then another system that we're using right now is we 
are putting in large water storage tanks, which are chilled 
at night when the temperature differential of the outside 
and, let's say, the demand temperature of the inside of the 
building is reduced, and it's easier to gain the storage of 
chilled water at night. And as it happens, incidentally, 
the electric rates are lower also. I'm not certain that this 
is going to last, but that's one thing that we're using. 

And we are using much more refined design methods, 
which make certain increments of the equipment finer tuned, 
or more compatible, so that the wasted energy of incompati- 
bility of equipment is eliminated. That would be in air 
conditioning and ventilating, and then in lighting we have 
many features like I mentioned. Also we have reduced the 
footcandle illumination down to a lower level, as applied 
to the overall space, and we are using more task lighting to 
make up the difference. This is what happens in the design 
of the garden- type office layouts, wherein a person has 
liberal task lighting, supplied usually from above the desk. 


for his task, and general illumination is probably half 
of what it used to be . 
LASKEY: That's interesting. 
MARTIN: Yeah. 

LASKEY: Also, what about what we generally think of as the 
modern skyscraper, as the curtain-wall, the glass-wall 
building: will there be any modification in the facades to 
save energy? My understanding is that they used a lot of air 
conditioning or heating or whatever, just the glass-windowed 
buildings. Will there be any change, any physical change, 
in the way the buildings will look? 

MARTIN: Yes, well there's considerable right now, and all 
you have to do is look at the Wells Fargo Building, which is 
a stainless steel panel and a double-glazed window. Now 
that, as far as heat loss is concerned, is a very productive 
design, whereas our older buildings like ARCO have granite 
exterior walls and single-glass windows. So the temperature 
loss or the heat gain, whichever you wish to consider — 
LASKEY: Whichever way you're looking at it. 

MARTIN: — is just remarkably different. Now, shop fabrica- 
tion of the panels on the Wells Fargo Building dictates a 
certain standardization that would be a little more difficult 
in masonry or stone buildings . So the future really includes 
very lightweight walls, shop fabricated and brought to the 
site as one unit, and that's what almost all of our buildings 


are now. We also reduce the weight of the building frame 
when we have lighter walls, which helps in conservation of 
steel and especially in the seismic aspect of design. So 
the trend is, of course, towards conservation and shop 
fabrication and a different appraisal of aesthetics, 
which takes a generation or two to accept, such as "I love 
granite and I don't like shiny steel buildings." That 
would be one generation, whereas it's often said today that 
the youth would gravitate towards the more modern metallic 
materials and accept them as being aesthetically satisfactory 
This isn't of great import to us because we understand the 
subject, but society is accepting a different form of 
aesthetics, and that means architecture. 

LASKEY: Wouldn't also your idea of open spaces, of green 
spaces, which aesthetically I think we all find pleasing, 
be beneficial as far as energy conservation is concerned? 
Because it would seem to me that space between buildings, or 
grass, or trees, or whatever, would have an environmental 
effect that would be positive, as opposed to, like New York 
City, just acres of tall towers. 

MARTIN: I'm not sure about the energy-saving feature of 
that, but I am sure that there is a new demand by those of 
us that may be environmentally motivated to solve the sun 
problem, or to share the sun, and to eliminate a situation 
where one building places another building in shade all day 


long, or shadow. It has to do with human rights and their 
right to share in the warmth of the sun. That's a big thing, 
and when we have large open spaces we manage that problem a 
lot better than if the open spaces are small. 
LASKEY: I've also noticed that some of the new buildings — 
well, particularly your Security Pacific Building, although 
it was there first — there's been a lot of innovative siting 
of buildings on the land. I don't know what the building is 
that's going up across from the Security Pacific at this point 
(I think Skidmore, Owings and Merrill is doing it) , but 
that's an interesting siting of a building, no longer just 
on the street front. 

MARTIN: It's a very fine example of the flexibility that 
the architects are employing in the design of different 
configurations of buildings, generally to match the importance 
of the shape or space between the buildings rather than com- 
paring one building form with another solely. We have often 
said that this amount of space between the buildings is as 
important to design as the buildings themselves, and that's 
proven in so many cases where we've had a chance to influence 
the creation of great urban spaces, usually void spaces. 
They're found here, and the space to the east of Union Bank 
Square, which was created by the Connecticut General chairman, 
who insisted that that be open — that is, the space immediately 
east of this building — is reserved forever as space. No 


building can be built in there, by law. Mow, that was the 
foresight of the chairman of Connecticut General when we did 
this building, but if you think about it, this building, the 
[Bonaventure] Hotel over here, the north tower of ARCO, and 
the new Wells Fargo — all share that space. And that's true 
of the space around Security Pacific, where we protected the 
space around, we located the building — 
LASKEY: That's a beautiful space. 

MARTIN: Yes, it is a beautiful space, but that was really 
a planned space. The same thing is true, incidentally, with 
the library problem. If you retain that space as an urban 
space and you create high density around that space, it's 
I think a more pleasant urban solution than if you fill that 
superblock with a great big building in the middle of it, 
destroying the character of the space. So, yes, the design 
of the buildings and their material compositions and the 
position of the buildings within the spaces created in the 
urban plan — all have a tremendous amount to do with human 
acceptance, with the responsiveness of people, with aesthetic 
impacts and humanization of the scale of the city, and we're 
giving a tremendous amount of attention to that these days . 
LASKEY: Is that where you see the role of the architect, or 
your role, today, is in the humanization of the cities? 
MARTIN: I see the role of the architect very strongly being 
exemplified in that particular direction. That's also true 


of city planners, who generally have an architectural 
background. Yes, the molding and the configurations within 
an urban development are becoming more and more vital to the 
solution of the city as such: the place of choices; the place 
of congregating with other city dwellers; a very exciting 
life, as compared to being out in the middle of a farm and 
enjoying nature; it's a different thing. So I know that the 
city developments and redevelopments are at hand constantly, 
because the world is filling up with people. 

One observation I had the other day, which I am 
intrigued with, is if you think about Spaceship World in this 
universe, and you think that the world is the only planet in 
this universe with a very, very thin band of oxygen that 
surrounds it, comparatively paper-thin compared to the 
distance. It's the only place a human can live, and it's so 
thin that when you're at sea level you breathe comfortably, 
but if you're at 8,000 feet (which is a mile and a half) 
above sea level, you have difficulty living, maybe at 10,000 
feet. And that comparatively is like a paper-thin envelope 
around Spaceship World, and if you go out through that 
oxygen, you have to have support systems that would allow 
you to live. You have to take the oxygen with you. And if 
you think about that for a minute, as we start in to penetrate 
that, or to go out from our protective area of oxygen, the 
envelope of oxygen, if you think about it for a minute, we're 


so miniscule in the big sense, and all of this that v;e're 
talking about is going on within that little tiny band of 
air. And now we're going out through it, and we can stay 
out there with life-support systems and be free of gravity 
also. That gives one, I believe, an entirely different 
perspective of the role of man on Spaceship Earth. It's 
a very interesting perspective to even think about that for 
a minute: that we are really trapped in a thin layer of 
oxygen. And that's not bad; we're glad to have it. 
LASKEY: But we certainly should take care of it. 
MARTIN: And we certainly should take care of it; it's that 
thin, it's that thin, in the way of the whole universe. And 
it better hang together, otherwise we all cease. So in the 
big sense, if you go out in space and start thinking about 
this, and obviously man and animals and flowers and flora — 
All relate to the existence of that oxygen, and that's unique 
in the solar system. 

LASKEY: Something I think that probably most of us don't 
think about, and that probably should be thought about as 
we become more and more populous, something that should be 
thought about more and more, is conservation and protection 
of this ecological system. 

MARTIN: Well, if one wants to start from that perspective, 
and I'm sure a lot of people do, one realizes what a fragile 
existence man has, extremely so, because even to go up in 


the high mountains, you can't live. So all this goes on in 

this little envelope, which is a very interesting thing: how 

do you live within that little envelope of oxygen? 

LASKEY: And how do you save it. 

MARTIN: How do you save it, and presumably it's worth 

saving; so philosophically speaking, a lot of things can 

emanate from that kind of a thinking process. 

LASKEY: Certainly the fragility and the importance of 

conservation are two things that have to come out of that. 

On the other hand, as an architect, do you have any great 

ideas in soaring out through space? 

MARTIN: I've started to think about that a little bit, 

although not very constructively. I believe that great space 

developments, they're just around the corner, because it's 

entirely possible to do it right now. 

LASKEY: With the technology. 

MARTIN: And the only thing that we have to create out there 

is this lif e-supporcing gas called oxygen and a few of the 

other things, because out there you're free of gravity, and 

you can move from one place to the other, seemingly very 

easily, in the future, because nothing stops you from moving. 

So yeah, I think without a question that there's going to be 

great developments in space, great developments. 

LASKEY: Actual living in space, is that in the plans? 

MARTIN: Well, I don't know what benefit there would be; 


they tell me there's a lot of commercial benefits, that many 
processes are better done out in gravity-free spaces. That 
takes a lot of imagination, but I'm sure it could be. 
LASKEY: It's like all the science-fiction movies that we've 
gone to all our lives suddenly becoming reality. 
MARTIN: I think that they are real right now; I mean, the 
space vehicles are there. And they're working hard, 
photographing, going out to photograph the weather every day, 
and I look at that picture every day now to see where the 
cloud structures are. That's really exciting. 
LASKEY: Fascinating. And we sort of take it for granted. 
That element of space we've gotten used to, and we accept it. 
MARTIN: Already. In navigation right now, with a little 
electronic instrument you can locate the point that you're 
standing on within fifty feet and closer, just by turning on 
a dial and triangulation between space vehicles that are 
fixed in space. It's the earth that's turning; the vehicles 
may be in a fixed position, compared to the sun. Well, of 
course they can move, I'm sure they can do anything, but 
there's a great change ahead. 

SECOND PART (MAY 27, 1981) 

LASKEY: Mr. Martin, I think we should talk about your position 
as co-chairman of the Los Angeles Bicentennial Committee. We've 
referred to the Bicentennial, and you've referred to the things 


your company is doing, but we haven't talked about what 
you ' re doing. 

MARTIN: Just a matter of detail, Marlene, I'm the chairman, 
and Margo [Albert] is the vice-chairman. It is not a co- 

MARTIN: It's just a slight distinction, but the record 
should be straight. 

It was sometime about the middle of 1978 that Mayor Tom 
Bradley called me and asked me if I would consider being the 
chairman of the city of Los Angeles's Bicentennial celebration, 
which would be a yearlong celebration starting September 4, 
1981. I asked for a day of time and then responded favorably, 
for the principal reason that I felt that it was a distinct 
honor. I knew that it would be a time-consuming assignment 
and that, to a great extent, it complemented a certain pride 
that exists in my mind because of the long history of the 
family and the development of the city of Los Angeles and its 
environs. So the acceptance of the assignment did not carry 
with it a program of what was intended, nor did it carry with 
it any funding, which caused me to attempt to describe what 
I thought a bicentennial celebration might include. 
LASKEY: Well, when Mayor Bradley approached you on this, 
did he have any kind of program in mind, or did he sort of 
throw that in your lap as part of the acceptance? 


MARTIN: Well, it was the latter. There is no existing 
program, or there was none, and therefore I really had to 
imagine what a program might be. To do that I analyzed what 
I thought was important about the society, with its multi- 
ethnic composition, with its diverseness of interests of 
all of the people, and I prepared a statement (which I hope 
is still around) that pretty much exists today as the 
adopted program. That statement analyzed what I thought 
were the interests of society, and it included matters of 
culture, of the various types; that is, active cultural 
things-, such as the dance, and somewhat passive cultural 
things, such as painting and art and the theater. It included 
certainly a strong role for religious affairs, for educational 
affairs. It included quite an interesting role because of 
the interests of society in sporting events, since 
Los Angeles is the center of so many great athletes and the 
home of so many great athletes. It included thoughts related 
to entertainment because of Los Angeles's role in the movie 
industry and of course now the TV industry. There were also 
thoughts that we should honor the past and we should 
certainly respect and recognize the present and we should 
do as much as we can to forecast the future. 

Actually, besides that broadly, described program, 
there was a question of how would one organize it, and it 
was decided with the mayor. And by this time, iMrs . Jane Pisano, 


who was working for the mayor at the time of my acceptance — 
It was suggested that she might be an assistant to me . I 
quickly recognized her tremendous assets- As time went 
on she was designated as the executive director, and time 
has proven that she is one of the most outstanding people 
that I have ever had the pleasure of working with. The 
formulation of the committee — and it was suggested that the 
committee might include forty-four representatives of different 
segments of society, principally selected because of ethnic 
background, but also strongly influenced by myself as to 
their background in certain abilities; these abilities v/ould 
be organizationally determined, such as finance, accounting, 
legal, public relations, and other standard disciplines that 
are found in business. 

LASKEY: Was the forty-four selected because that was the 
number of original settlers, or was that--? 

MARTIN: Yes. It was the thesis that perhaps a committee of 
forty-four would be in honor of the original forty-four 
pobladores , who incidentally were dominantly of Mexican, 
Indian, and black descendance. A great number of the forty- 
four were children, as it happened. So therefore the method 
of selection was [that] each councilman would select one 
representative, which I thought was unfortunate because they 
had no concept of what qualifications should be represented — 
LASKEY: Oh, really. They weren't briefed, or given — ? 


MARTIN: It was not really well done by the council (with no 
reflection on anybody) . Then the mayor and myself selected 
the twenty-nine, which included myself. In this case, the 
most important selection that I had to do was the selection 
of Margo Albert, who is a Mexican and a former star, an 
actress, to be the vice-chairman and to act as a bridge 
between the Mexican community and the entertainment and 
cultural community. She is just outstanding in that role. 
Also the selection of Olive Behrendt, who I had hoped would 
be the head of the cultural aspects, and, as it has worked 
out, she has remained head of the cultural aspects, with most 
of her attention being given over to music, which is her 
outstanding quality. We supported her strongly with staff, 
and it has worked quite well. Also I selected Bob [Robert R. ] 
Dockson, who is a dear friend and also chairman of California 
Federal Savings and Loan and former president of the Chamber 
of Commerce, to be head of finance. We selected 
Rod [Rodney W. ] Rood of ARCO, who was on the original Olympic 
citizens' committee, and his role was to be head of sports. 
Tyler Macdonald, who I thought to be an outstanding, 
inspirational public relations and advertising executive, 
proved to be just that and remains as a committee chairman. 
My friend Glenn Dumke, who is chancellor of the state college 
and university system, accepted the chairmanship of the educa- 
tional committee, and later on, as it developed, he assigned 


Dr. Gloria Lathrop to play the role of representing him on 
the committee. I cannot say enough for Gloria Lathrop, who 
I think is one of the strongest organizers of educational 
matters that I've ever come across. 

So we are going further, and there was a decision to 
be made: the invitation as to who would head the religious 
committee, and this was sensitive. But since we knew that 
there had been a coalition of religious leaders for the 1976 
U.S. Bicentennial established locally, the problem of selec- 
ting a leader was lessened, and I determined that Bishop 

[Manuel] Moreno of the Catholic archdiocese should be 
the leader. He has proven to be an outstanding religious 
leader, and I think that there has been a lot of good come 
from some of the events that they have sponsored. 

With this kind of leadership on the committee and with 
the process of having all programs approved by an executive 
committee, which was composed of the heads of standing 
committees, we have had excellent cooperation from the 
executive committee of the committee of forty-four. The 
actual committee of forty-four, which meets quarterly, is 

not too active, in that it's almost impossible to have forty- 
four people active that are interested, and we try to keep 
them interested. There's been some good work done by members 
of the committee who I have not mentioned, but really excellent 


The process of finance has been an interesting one. We 
determined early in the game that we would separate the sub- 
ject of operational funds from the funding of specific 
projects. The thesis that we established also included the 
point that our committee would act as a catalyst to bring 
together existing corporations, foundations, and organizations 
which may be connected with performing arts: for example, 
bring people together not only to formulate programs, because 
most of them are formulated by professionals, but also to 
sponsor and to pay for the implementation of all these programs. 
And as of this date, since we have kept operational funds 
separate from the project specific funds, we have developed 
the following amounts: we have secured some $560,000 for 
operations and have maintained a staff of about seven or 
eight, and we have secured something like $7.5 million in 
specific projects funded by corporate groups and foundations. 
LASKEY: Now, this is starting out from the basis of nothing, 
right? You had no funding from the city? 

MARTIN: Well, I did get $40,000 from the city council, which 
paid for Jane Pisano as executive director and a small staff, 
the establishment of an office in the Oviatt Building, and 
other miscellaneous expenses. Most of the work of the committee 
and the legal work has been volunteered, which has helped us 
tremendously. So the answer is that in most cases the funds 
have come from the private sector, and this has been a matter 


of pride. It has been pride to our committee, but also 
pride of the citizens, because this society these days are 
so used to having the federal government pay for everything 
and local government pay for everything that this is one of 
the first times that the private sector has come forward for 
such an event and funded it completely. The $40,000 from 
the city council, of course, was a small fund that allowed us 
to get going and for which we are grateful. 
LASKEY: Eight million dollars is a lot of money. 
MARTIN: Yes, and actually that's in direct grants. I am 
certain that the reflected multiple of this kind of funding 
would multiply it several times over, as far as the effect 
on the community is concerned, because a direct grant always 
generates other supporting grants. So it appears, even 
though at this moment in time we have struggled to keep the 
doors open — because we actually ran out of cash--and we've 
been on an additional fund drive, it appears that we'll make 
it through now, and finally the city government is giving us 
a little bit more support. When we needed it, it's been 
awfully slow in coming. Which has kept the pressure on the 
committee and particularly on myself and Jane Pisano. That's 
a brief history of some of the important factors of the 
management of the Bicentennial. 

I think that the public attitude and the support of 
the press has been quite good. This summer we'll see the 


performance of a series of nine or ten community festivals, 
and these are ethnically oriented to some extent, because 
the ethnic groups do collect in different areas of the city. 
That looks like it's going to be a nice, summer-long series 
of events. We have a major sports luncheon scheduled now 
for August 13, which will be one of the largest events ever 
held in honor of the great athletes that have come from this 
area. They will be collected and honored at the Biltmore 
Hotel with a very major luncheon. So that is now scheduled. 

We also are trying — Oh, a matter of interest, we did 
have a visitation scheduled for the king of Spain and had 
preparations made, but his problems of an internal government 
shakeup had caused him to cancel the visitation. We are now 
attempting to bring the president of the United States and 
the president of Mexico, [Jose] Lopez Portillo, here for the 
night of September 3, at which time, if we can accomplish 
this, we will have a major fundraising event conducted by the 
Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce, which would bring funds 
to our committee if it is successful; $100,000 is our 
arrangement. So we're going to make it through financially. 

As a side comment on the Bicentennial: to date, the 
one failure has been the failure of the coin and medallion 
program that we launched with great work and difficulty, and 
it may possibly succeed. But we did expect to receive from 
$500,000 to $1 million from the licensing and selling of 


related objects and the coin and medallion program. This 
has been disappointing, I think, because our resources are 
spread so thin in this big city. We have a staff of eight 
people doing this, and even though there are 3,000 teachers 
forming an education committee, to undertake such a major 
event for a year long by such a small committee with such a 
small amount of money is difficult. However, everybody 
feels that we've been eminently successful. 


MAY 27, 1981 

LASKEY: What are some of the results of the Bicentennial 
program that you have been particularly pleased with? 
MARTIN: Well, I think that we've had a wonderful recognition 
as to the work of the education committee. We produced a 
syllabus that was used by the teaching profession to teach 
the children about the history of Los Angeles, and that 
became a consistent document, giving two hundred suggestions 
as to how to accomplish that, for example, on the two- 
hundredth birthday. I believe there 'd been a dissemination 
of good, correct historical background and knowledge into 
the school system by this effort, and I think that's very 

There's also been a recognition of the importance of 
the entertainment industry through this opportunity created 
by the Bicentennial that I think has to some extent chanced 
the image of Los Angeles, v/hich had been often described as 
a city of twelve districts in search of a unanimity — 
LASKEY: Sixty suburbs in search of a city? 

MARTIN: Yeah, something like that. And also the image, the 
national image, of Los Angeles has been really elevated due 
to some of the national publicity that's been generated. 
This has recently been true of New York, with their campaign 


"I Love New York," and we coattailed right onto that with 

an "I Love L.A." or "L.A.'s the Place." 

LASKEY: "L.A.'s the Place," now, that's the Bicentennial 



LASKEY: How did that originate? 

MARTIN: That originated through the assistance of our 

public relations counsel. Stone Associates. We had talked 

about it in the executive committee, as we had discussed 

many other logos. We really discouraged the use of the word 

"L.A." in the beginning, in favor of "Los Angeles," but as it 

all developed through the communication media, "L.A.'s the Place" 

has taken, and it is now used by the [Los Angeles] Visitors 

and Convention Bureau as a standard procedure, "L.A.'s the Place." 

We also, as a matter of a supporting activity, early 
in the game we decided that we would develop posters which 
would be done by local artists. We selected some seventeen 
artists, who have produced a series that I think is very 
notable. We also, through my influence, selected John Follis, 
who is a dean of graphic artists, to coordinate the graphic 
work that was found throughout the whole program, and, of 
course, he designed our logo, a simulated angel. And that 
has been a great success. 

So some of these things, such as having a sound base of 
an organizational format, with contracts carefully established 


and licensing contracts — We also had controlled very carefully 
the artistic representations, as well as the press represen- 
tations, as to the spirit of the Bicentennial. We decided 
strongly against the use of pseudorepresentations of the 
nature of Los Angeles, such as the old symbol of a Mexican 
sitting in the front door with a sombrero hanging over his 
head. We wanted no part of that, and throughout this 
Bicentennial there has been none. Rather, we have used the 
highest form of graphic art, and we have only advocated 
programs which were culturally molded, with guidelines that 
would be of a highly respectful nature. We felt that since 
we have so many strong ethnic groups in this city, that it 
was a matter of complementing all those ethnic groups with 
the finest representation that could be applied to them. 
And I think this has been very successful. It is easy to 
make a circus out of an event like this, and we were conscious 
of this. Never have we allowed it. 

LASKEY: Well, I'm thinking of the posters, the Bicentennial 
posters, which are uniformly good. You have very high-level, 
high-powered artists, like David Hockney, that you were able 
to get. Who did the persuading, who had the contacts with 
people like this? 

MARTIN: Well, we had a special committee organized by 
John Follis, and I believe that on that committee there were 
professional people. I can't recall who they were, undoubtedly 


leaders in the field, who extended the invitations to these 

artists. And we paid the artists for their work, I think 

something like $1,000 or maybe $3,000 apiece. It v/as a 

nominal sum, and the program is extremely successful. The 

fact is, the posters are the most successful licensing thing 

we have. 

LASKEY: It may be that this summer, with all the festivals 

coming up, that the other things will take hold. As people 

join in things of a festive nature, they like to have 

remembrances of those things. 

MARTIN: Also supporting that thought, we have an agreement 

with Ralphs grocery, who have combined with McDonald's 

restaurants, and they're going to spend some $3 million 

in advertising for special Bicentennial events; included will 

be the distribution of the Bicentennial dollars at the stores, 

and this will be a very strong outlet. At that time, with 

this big advertising program, I believe the dollar sales 

will really start to go. I think it's going to happen, and 

it could very well be that we're going to end up with an 

extra $100,000 or so, which will be used to clean up and 

to establish a proper archives to permanently tell the story 

of the Bicentennial. 

LASKEY: That's an interesting point: is anybody archiving 

the material now? do you have someone? 

MARTIN: We have received as a gift the collection of 


photographs that was assembled by Security Pacific Bank, 
valued at $1.25 million or so and including the services of 
a full-time archivist for two years to place this collection 
into a highly organized property for the people of the city. 
This will be kept at the library. 

LASKEY: The Security Pacific collection is certainly one of 
the great collections of Los Angeles photography, old 

MARTIN: Correct. Also, Ticor has made available their 
collection, which I believe is being held by a separate 
corporation. I'm trying to think of the name of the historical 
society — I think it's California Historical Society--that is 
in charge of the Ticor [collection] . So we also have estab- 
lished within the new city service building a space for the 
city's archives. That is something new, and it's amazing 
that the city of Los Angeles has never had a real highly 
organized location for its archives, which is unbelievable, 
but — 

LASKEY: That's amazing. 

MARTIN: But there has been work done in this area, and we 
will have an archives established. As I see it, at this point 
in time (three and a half to four months from the completion) 
it's wrapping up extremely well. There are other programs 
that I didn't mention that have to do with the future, 
forecasts of the city of Los Angeles in the twenty-first century, 


and one of the programs is called "Los Angeles 200+20," and 

another program is a seminar which will bring together two 

hundred leaders from throughout the Pacific Rim to meet and 

discuss the most important things of the future of Los 

Angeles in its Western Hemisphere position. 

LASKEY: Now, will this be funded by the L.A. Bicentennial 

Committee, will you continue to do funding? 

MARTIN: Yes, it is being funded, and we look to Armand 

Hammer of Occidental Oil [Occidental Petroleum Corporation] 

to be our major sponsor. He's promised to do that, so it 

looks like it's going to be a successful program. 

LASKEY: How much of your time in the last three years has 

been spent exclusively with the Bicentennial? 

MARTIN: Well, I think that it approaches 40 to 50 percent 

of my time. It's very interesting. I hope it hasn't been 

a burden on Albert C. Martin and Associates. In some ways 

it might have been, but in other ways of course 

Albert C. Martin and Associates is right out in front in the 

minds of the society, everybody knows of the firm these days, 

which was not true fifteen years ago. 

LASKEY: Really? 

MARTIN: Our position competitively was not nearly as strong 

as it is today. So I think it all adds up to position the 

firm pretty well. But, in any case, I think it's been 



LASKEY: As exhausting and difficult as it's been. 
MARTIN: Well, yeah, but it's been rewarding too. Everything 
that one does has its problems, and we all make it through, 
we keep saying to ourselves. 

LASKEY: Well, you've done extremely well up to this point. 
I'm fascinated still by the idea of a committee as yourself 
raising such a large amount of money so successfully in such 
a short period of time. Was there just possibly someone 
waiting to be asked, in the sense of the city wanting to do 
something for itself, or the people — I don't know how to say 
this correctly — that this was a source that hadn't been tapped 
before, to actually go to these various corporations and ask 
for their help in something like this and give them a chance 
to participate in this? 

MARTIN: Well, there have always been important financial 
drives for important projects, like Mrs. [Norman] Chandler 
drove for funds for the Music Center, that was an outstanding 
event. Then there have been drives for the museums and so 
forth. For a large civic celebration this has undoubtedly 
been the biggest endeavor and undoubtedly the biggest response. 
I think that there is an increasing spirit of the corporate 
responsibility, especially with the trend nationally, now, with 
President Reagan, to return the responsibility to the states 
and the counties and the cities, rather than having the federal 
government dominate all the thinking. The subject of corporate 


responsibility has been really unfolding for the last ten 
or fifteen years as a national trend, such as consumer 
advocacy and such programs as that. I think we just touched 
the tip of the iceberg though. So many corporations that 
should have responded did not respond, and the old reliables, 
particularly ARCO and the Bank of America and Security Bank, 
the big corporate groups, have been very fine in supporting 
the program. 

Now, we were very nervous for a while because we had 
nothing to submit to the press in the way of programs. The 
development of programs comes so slowly in an organization 
like this because you have to organize your committees first 
and you have to go to the people to evolve the programs. So 
when you start — and you need money for operations in the 
beginning — nobody has ever heard of you. Finally towards the 
end they start to recognize that there's a big thing going on. 
Therefore the fund drives are really based upon faith and 
somewhat on the faith of the success of the committee and 
its leaders. As I mentioned, we have some fine leaders on 
this committee. 

LASKEY: Well, was most of the fundraising done by the one 
committee, or did each of the committees do a fair amount of 
their own fund raising? 

MARTIN: The operation funds was done by the finance committee 
under Bob Dockson. Most of the fund raising for specific 


projects was done through our staff, staff of the Bicentennial, 
the lead staff, with the help of everyone. Today I still see 
a good reception for helping to fund these things. The 
Chamber of Commerce has been slow, but the present leadership 
of the Chamber of Commerce in the last two years have been 
very supportive of having the chamber take a more important 
role. I had a hard time with the chamber because the 
leadership of the chamber three years ago did not really 
respect the role of the Bicentennial to the degree that I felt 
they should. But Bob Dockson and myself and others have kept 
at the chamber so strongly that now we have a big effort on 
their part to be successful, or to be a successful part of 
the Bicentennial. You would think that they would have been 
the first ones to step up. 
LASKEY: Yeah. 

MARTIN: But it wasn't that way, and I lay it to the leader- 
ship at that time. 

LASKEY: Were they afraid, or didn't they have enough vision 
to see what this was going to be? 

MARTIN: I think it was at a time when the chamber needed 
funds. They actually capitalized on our activities, to our 
detriment, which was a very bad thing, and we let them know — 
that is, Dockson and myself particularly — really let them 
know what we thought they had done. They published a book, 
without our endorsement, which should have been published by 


us or through the chamber with our endorsement. And we 
should have shared in the funds, but they took all the funds. 
That was really a terrible thing for the leadership to do 
that. We finally have overcome that. 

As I mentioned earlier, there's going to be, hopefully, 
a very major event on September 3 which will be a fundraising 
event to secure some funds for the Bicentennial Committee 
wrap-up, but a larger amount of funds [will be] for a program 
which is related to some of the activities of the Bicentennial; 
that is, working towards the future betterment of the city of 
Los Angeles. So there's so many stories about the 
Bicentennial that are missed here, but one can't cover them 

LASKEY: Well, speaking of books, Bicentennial did put out 
an excellent guidebook, the LA Access. 

MARTIN: Excellent. Yes, and I think the auto club did a very 
good job of developing a new map available to the public, 
showing two hundred locations of historic importance in the 
city. Those maps have descriptive material which illuminate 
the important facts about two hundred places. 
LASKEY: And the Junior League put out that children's map. 
MARTIN: Yes, and I really should know more about that; 
there's some good maps. 

LASKEY: It's a wonderful map — I've seen it down at the 
library — and just very nicely done. 


MARTIN: One interesting point, I think, that occurred 
earlier in our discussions, and I failed to mention our 
important history committee under the leadership of 
Dr. Doyce [B.] Nunis, [Jr.]. It was decided that there 
would be no way that historians could prepare a compre- 
hensive revision of the historic background on the city 
of Los Angeles, that the historians could help to prepare 
material through the activities of the Bicentennial, which 
material could then be organized by future historians. I 
think that that was fundamentally a good thing, because 
when we recall history through a series of events and if 
that history is authentic, which is always the danger, and 
we watch that very carefully, then those recollections of 
so many events become the basis for a new collection and 
a new treatise on the history. And I'm sure that a lot of 
that has taken place. 

LASKEY: Well, the opening of "Spectrum" down at the Plaza 
is a wonderful thing. 

MARTIN: I think that's one of the finest exhibits that's 
ever been assembled. Incidentally, that is one exhibit that 
was funded partially by the federal government, the 
National Endowment [for] the Arts, I think it is, or 
National Endowment [for] the Humanities. The Bank of America 
picked up the other half, a total investment of maybe 
$200,000. But an outstanding permanent collection. Again, 


when you think of a permanent collection presented in that 
manner, it's an asset that the city now has forever. It 
takes an event like this to do it. So, again. Bicentennial 
activities have brought much of this to light and into 
being. I think the repercussions of the Bicentennial will 
be here for a long time. 

LASKEY: What will be your repercussions? On September 4, 
do you just fold up and come home? 

MARTIN: No, I really believe that when we close the office 
and turn over the cleanup work to some part of the govern- 
ment,. I presume,' or some private organization--it could be 
an historic organization — I believe that my activities will 
continue on with a knowledge of what was done and what can 
be done. And I firmly believe that some of the institutional 
things that we're establishing now will demand some of my 
time in the future, such as we have set up a process which 
hopefully will solve the problem of the planning of 
El Pueblo. The process is one of creating a new commission 
which is government-private sector. That has now met, and 
the entire structure of this has been created by myself and 
Jane Pisano as a procedural structure. And it's a very exciting, 
well-received process. Well received in the bureaucracy of 
the city of Los Angeles, who are enthusiastically trying to 
solve the traffic and space problems of El Pueblo and Chinatown 
and the Union Station. We have a committee of leaders of both 


government and the private sector to try to solve, to get 
a handle on what the future should be to really make a 
cohesive park out of El Pueblo. Principally to reroute 
Main Street around it. A very complicated process and not 
well received by the bureaucracy of the city, because the 
bureaucracy, by its very nature, resists any cohesive or 
coordinated action and, by its very nature, supports diverse 
type of activity which is hard to bring back into a single 

It's very clear at this stage of society and history 
of Los Angeles — and, for that matter, federal government — the 
biggest struggle we have, I believe, is the struggle between 
bureaucracy and democracy. I mean, the vote of the people 
are not really running the government; it's the bureaucracy 
that is running the government. That is a big struggle, and 
we try to bridge over that by enlisting the support of 
bureaucracy through a new kind of organization, which is private 
sector-government [cooperation]. That's what we think could 
happen, and I think it's an important move towards the future. 
LASKEY: What kind of support did you get from the city all 
during your tenure? 

MARTIN: A very friendly response, but without any kind of 
financial support or really staff support. The government — 
mayor's office, particular ly--and certainly the councilmen 
have been very cooperative with us. The only problem is that 


they don't do things for us; we had to initiate everything 
ourselves- Which is quite related to a political approach 
versus a private-sector approach. The mayor couldn't be 
nicer and more supportive as long as he was out in front 
and doing the talking about "L.A.'s the Place." And that's 
just great. But when it comes to trying to underwrite our 
activities — And I mentioned that underwriting our credit 
would have been a big help in the beginning because we 
could have borrowed from private-sector banks if the govern- 
ment would have guaranteed us. This was, after all, a city 
affair; it wasn't a private affair. It was a citywide affair. 
At one time we did secure $500,000 underwriting for a while, 
but during the next budget that was wiped out, and so we 
came down to the wire several times where we didn't have 
enough money for the payroll. And I couldn't go to the 
private banks because that would have meant that I personally 
representing our committee would be guaranteeing the loan. 

To this day tne government hasn't responded to us, 
other than to help us go out to the private sector again and 
secure enough money for operations. That is probably the 
situation in a nutshell. The government just doesn't have 
the money today, blaming everything onto Proposition 13, 
which I doubt is really the reason. The government has not 
reduced its bureaucracy, and it's self -perpetuating to a 
great extent. So I'm not bitter, I'm just saying that's the 

way it is today. 


LASKEY: Well, did you run into that bureaucracy when you 
were trying to set up events? For instance, did you have 
difficulty with the city in — ? 

MARTIN: Not at all. They were very cooperative, and we 
would have to beg the police department for support. The 
mayor's office was always helpful in asking for in-kind 
services from the police department, but the initiative was 
on our part to organize everything. And really that's 
probably the way it should be. Otherwise we would lose the 
control that comes through taking the initiative. We don't 
have regrets; we just feel that the government was not 
really the greatest partner that we could have had. 
LASKEY: That's interesting. 

MARTIN: I think for the record and if one is looking back 
at what the real facts are, it's a peculiar time in the 
history of government in the United States. I'm not saying 
it's bad, I'm just saying it's being slowly reorganized, 
and we will have less bureaucracy eventually, hopefully. But 
only if the citizens take the initiative, and that's what 
government's all about, always has been. It's what democ- 
racy's all about, and it's a strong form of government if 
citizens will do it. 

LASKEY: Well, I think it sort of implies territorial imperative; 
once you have a position or a place, you're reluctant to give 


it up, and they become entrenched over a period of time. 
Don't you find that happens in corporations too that you 
deal with sometimes? 

MARTIN: Definitely. There's bureaucracy in every kind of 
a private corporation to some extent. And I think you've 
expressed it well. 

LASKEY: So that puts you in a position of having to deal 
with all the bureaucracies, then — private, governmental. 
Did you feel like you were walking on a tightrope most of 
the time? 

MARTIN: No, the private sector you can reach because you 
can reach the leaders, who are strong. But when you reach 
the leaders of government, you're talking to politicians, 
who are very careful of their actions, and that's not true 
of corporate leaders. That's the big difference. Big 
corporate leaders will take an initiative and take their 
chances, but not a politician. And politicians do not 
control bureaucracy. They're afraid of public exposure to — 
LASKEY: Who controls it, then, basically? How does it work? 
MARTIN: Well, the very nature of the bureaucracy is that 
the departments themselves live within their charter and 
their budget and their rules, and they become hard-and-fast, 
tight organizations. The only thing they can control in a 
bureaucracy is the budget. Of course the mayor and the 
council people control the budget, but they have an internal 


struggle that's horrendous. They try very hard to do a 
good job, but they're still politicians, and there's a lot 
of patronage between the council people. They just trade 
off one for the other, and that doesn't make for good 
government. I think, however, that there's strong hope: 
I don't feel rebellious at all. 

LASKEY: Well, it'll be interesting to see how this plan 
for El Pueblo develops — if you really can cut through the 
bureaucracy and the red tape to some extent and get some- 
thing done. 

MARTIN: I think that we can get something done. For 
twenty years it's been on dead center, and I think we've 
broken through, found a way to break through, and it was 
entirely due to Jane [Pisano] and myself. 

LASKEY: Do you think that you would have developed that 
plan, that you would have gotten involved, if you hadn't 
been involved in the Bicentennial? 

MARTIN: Oh, I would never have been into it. Even though 
we were the architects for the last layout of El Pueblo, we 
did what they said. And when I came along with the 
Bicentennial activity, I knew what was necessary was a more 
drastic solution than what we were doing. Now, whether 
that ever comes about or not, I can't tell. I think we're 
going to win that one, in time. 
LASKEY: But it's just one more of the little waves that are 


emanating from the Bicentennial. 

MARTIN: Definitely. Initiative on the part of the private 
sector is the fundamental thing that is necessary to reshape 
our cities, and they really need reshaping. The process is 
too laborious through our city government; the greatest hope 
for reshaping our cities is through the Community Redevelop- 
ment Agency, and who has power of eminent domain, by the way, 
with the approval of the city council. 
LASKEY: Are they the only agency that does? 
MARTIN: I believe not, I believe that the Department of 
Public Works has it for matters that are related to streets 
and lighting and the infrastructure of the city. Then of 
course we know that the Harbor Department and the Department 
[of Airports] and the Department of Water and Power are 
independent agencies; they're departments of the government. 
They're autonomous but subject to the approval of the city 

LASKEY: Well, now, your being selected as chairman of the 
Bicentennial Committee just didn't come out of nowhere. I 
mean, obviously you have had a lot of experience in Los Angeles, 
and you've had a number of other honors and occupied a number 
of other positions of responsibility over the years. You 
mentioned the Chamber of Commerce. You were president of the 
Chamber of Commerce in 1976, I think it was, and apparently 
shook them up considerably in that capacity. 


iMARTIN: Well, yes, I was president in '76, but I'm not so 
sure I shook up any of the procedures. I have been a 
critic of the internal immobility of the staff of the chamber 
for some time, and I did call for a reorganization of the 
chamber from a pure organization point of view; that is, the 
subdivision of the various disciplines that are managed 
within the chamber. That may have been the contribution. 
I think that I have represented small business, if one really 
digests it; that the viewpoint of an independent entrepreneur 
probably was expressed by my regime as the president. And 
that's essential, if one thinks of the board of the chamber 
as composed of the presidents of the major corporations. 
The major corporations are all large, with a few selected 
smaller businesses, sometimes professional — doctors, architects, 
and a few others. The position of being president of the 
Chamber of Commerce does put you out in front, involved in 
civic activities and political activities. That again has to 
do with this whole subject of the functioning of the govern- 
ment as we know it and the planning the city as we know it. 

My brother Ed and I have always done a great deal of 
planning as to the evolution of the city, and I think together 
we have formulated ideas that are to some extent reflected 
today. Matter of fact, Ed was really the editor of a 
Chamber of Commerce treatise called "Los Angeles, Financial 
Center of the West," It was Ed's editorial activities that 


made that a very successful document. And all through the 
business activities, Albert C, Martin and Associates have 
been in the last thirty to forty years the dominant dov/ntown 
architect. There aren't any others that have stayed downtown, 
and so we have gravitated towards the activities downtown, 
pretty much. We have had work for government, like the 
Department of Water and Power [Building] , and my father of 
course with John Parkinson and John Austin did the City Hall. 
I think the Department of Water and Power is one of the most 
important buildings we've ever designed. And then of course 
we got started with ARCO. Well, we got started with this 
building, the Union Bank Square, first, then ARCO, and then 
Security Pacific, and then Wells Fargo and Manufacturers Life; 
these are all major structures. 

But, I guess because of community leadership positions 
that I have held several times, heads of appeal boards for 
the county and the city, and I was the head of a committee 
that rewrote the whole parking ordinance for the city of 
Los Angeles. That was an important contribution because of 
the direction that the building department was taking. And 
if one stays in the action long enough, I suppose you really 
help mold the nature of the laws and eventually the planning. 
I've always been interested in the planning of the basic city, 
the freeway alignments, the lack of a freeway on the eastside 
(which was once destined to be called the Industrial Freeway) 


and the importance of the Fourth Street viaduct. At one 
time, years ago, we planned a transportation center to be on 
the site of the Union Station, and that's exactly what's 
happening thirty or forty years later, thirty years, I guess. 
So we've always been in the action one way or the other. 

LASKEY: Of course what this has done, it has given you a 
tremendous familiarity with the bureaucracy. 
MARTIN: Right. 

LASKEY: Which puts you in a position of probably dealing far 
more effectively with the government than someone who had to 

MARTIN: I think that's true. We're respected in the city, 
and we are friendly to all the leaders of the city, of 
government, and we work with them and such things as that. 
LASKEY: Well, in 1971, you were the Man of the Year from 
the Chamber of Commerce. 

MARTIN: Yes, and I think that had to do with my activities 
and being chairman of the committee that we initiated to 
rewrite the parking ordinance. I pulled together a whole 
series of organizations. It was a committee called 
Associated Organizations. We actually wrote the new ordinance 
on our own initiative and presented it to the city attorney's 
office, who adopted it, and it was adopted by the city. It 
was that initiative that made such a change in the nature of 
the parking ordinance today. 


LASKEY: What was that change? 

MARTIN: Well, we actually rewrote all the technical parts 
of the parking ordinance, which had such things as the 
dimensions of ramps and parking spaces, the widths of 
buildings, and all of that. We went out and got $25,000, 
and we did a professional job and handed it to the city. 
They gave us a year to do it. The city council, who was 
about to pass a very untenable ordinance, gave us a year, 
and we asked for it, and we went out and did it. They 
adopted it unanimously and gave us great thanks. I think 
that might have been one of the reasons why I was named 
the Construction Man of the Year, or something like that. 
LASKEY: Well, just previous to that, you had won an L.A. 
Beautiful award, or Daisy Award, for landscaping work that 
you've done. Now, vie haven't discussed landscaping at all 
as an element of architecture. 

MARTIN: Well, that is interesting. I'd forgotten about 
it really for the moment, but Cleve Bonner of Richfield Oil- 
he was treasurer and a very dear friend of Ed's and mine 
and perhaps the reason why we designed the ARCO building-- 
Cleve and myself were members of Los Angeles Beautiful and 
a good friend of Valley Knudsen. I suggested to Cleve when 
we were remodeling the old Richfield Building (which was 
an historic monument, which we later tore down) that he 
consider planting thirteen trees around the building in the 


sidewalk. Something [like] that hadn't been done in the city 
for years and years, even though some of the early leaders 
of this city were great tree planters, if you think of 
some of the residential districts especially. But we 
decided to plant trees downtown, and they were so successful, 
and the building improved so much from the trees, that a 
committee was formed under Los Angeles Beautiful; and by 
the time we finished, we had planted close to a thousand 
trees in the downtown area, by the persuasion of Mrs. Knudsen, 
particularly. But each of those efforts was work. Later 
on, because it was so successful, rather quietly, through 
the L.A. Beautiful — [tape recorder turned off] Later on, 
through the Los Angeles Beautiful, we initiated an ordinance 
which caused an assessment district against the properties 
for tree planting in the downtown area contained within the 
four freeways . 


JUNE 2, 1981 

iMARTIN: — and we have planted in the downtown area some 
30,000 trees, which have helped to recreate the image of 
the downtown portion of Los Angeles. As we all know, 
downtown Los Angeles was once criticized as being bleak, 
and for that matter the entire city had been criticized 
for being a series of villages in search of a city. This 
tree-planting program that we did through Los Angeles 
Beautiful helped to bring cohesion to the whole area. 
People forget it now, but actually the nature of the down- 
town area, with its trees now, has changed completely. 
LASKEY: You mentioned Valley Knudsen; would you tell us 
something about her? 

MARTIN: Valley Knudsen was the leader of Los Angeles 
Beautiful. She was the wife of the founder of Knudsen 's 
creamery [Thorkild R. Knudsen] , and she was solicited by 
Mr. Earl Grover , who was the founding person of Los Angeles 
Beautiful, which was originally a division of the Chamber 
of Commerce board of directors. But Los Angeles Beautiful 
later became an independent entity, still working with the 
Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce. So Valley was a very 
popular person, very influential with the businessmen of 
the city, and a person who perhaps did more than any person 


in establishing a very strong program for beautif ication 
of the city by Los Angeles Beautiful. Her slogan was 
"Beauty Is Good Business," and that carried through to this 
day. So she is one of the unheralded history-makers of 
the city of Los Angeles, 

LASKEY: When was this, approximately? I have 196 9, but 
I have a question mark next to it. I wonder if it might 
have been a little earlier than that. 

MARTIN: It was. It was two or three years before we 
removed the Richfield Building and started the excavation 
for the ARCO Center. It must have been back in '65 or so. 
LASKEY: Did you have any problems in dealing with tearing 
down the old Richfield Building? 

MARTIN: The problem was handled very carefully by 
Cleve Bonner and Mr. Bob Anderson, the chairman of the 
board. The old Richfield Building was considered to be 
an historic monument, and it was a fine building, although 
terribly inefficient. So ARCO commissioned an historian 
who was well founded in architectural work to do a complete 
review, photographic survey, and put together a record of 
the character and quality of the building, which today 
stands as the principal record of that building. The 
entire subject was delicately handled, and there was not 
really a public voice from any conservancy group at that 
time. The conservancy groups were not nearly as strong at 


that time as they are today. So the answer is no. We 
proceeded to tear the building down and then, of course, 
build the magnificent ARCO project, which takes in the 
whole city block, and will, I'm sure, be an historic 
monument unto itself. 

LASKEY: When we were talking about honors and your 
involvement with the city, and we talked about some of 
your past honors, you have another one coming up next 
week, I think, the Spirit of Los Angeles Award that's 
being given to you. Do you want to talk about that? 
MARTIN: Yes, I do feel honored with that. I'll be the 
fourth recipient, I understand, and it undoubtedly is 
influenced by my chairmanship of the Bicentennial. But 
also it's because it's being given by the Los Angeles 
Headquarters [City] Association, and since I have had a 
lot to do with the planning of downtown Los Angeles and 
many of its facilities, this is being recognized. I'm 
told that the mayor will make the presentation, and it'll 
be a considerable honor. 

LASKEY: What is the Los Angeles Headquarters City 

MARTIN: It is an association of building owners and 
property owners that are gathered together to promote 
downtown Los Angeles, particularly, as a headquarters 
location for major corporations, such as Occidental Oil, 


ARCO is outstanding. Union Oil, and others of that nature. 
It is a promotional effect which I think is quite outstan- 
ding, and it's a well-supported group. 

LASKEY: Well, you made a point about your having been 
involved in so much of the planning of downtown Los Angeles, 
which makes me wonder, how do you feel, how does it affect 
you, when the buildings that you've built affect the lives 
of millions of people, literally, as they have over the 
years? How does that thought affect you? 

MARTIN: Well, I have a deep sense of responsibility, since 
we have had so much to do with the actual design and 
construction of many of the buildings. But I think most of 
all I enjoy the urban planning aspect of this work, which 
has changed the nature of the development of the city of 
Los Angeles in an urban sense. Our new work has been 
principally of the nature that it is because of the lifting 
of the limit height of thirteen stories and the maintenance 
of the parking requirements in the building code. The combi- 
nation of those two means that the density of building forms 
is quite low, like from 6 to 8 percent of the floor area 
ratio--excuse me, the floor area ratio is 6 to 8 percent as 
a multiplier against the area of the land. So you have six 
to eight times the area of the land that you can build into 
a building form. But I also believe that that combination, 
along with the opportunities that we have had to create these 


large open spaces and landscape plazas which are likened 
unto parks, has completed the urban composition. 

If you look carefully at the way the city is now 
developing, you find about four major open spaces in this 

area other than the Civic Center Mall and the East Mall. 
You find the open space to the east of the Union Bank 
Square, which is above the auditoriums of the Bonaventure 
Hotel, as an open space that will always be there, by law. 
It is a dedication of open space that was created for 
Connecticut General, who was the owner at the time we built 
the Union Bank Building. As it has happened, we have built 
the north tower of ARCO, the new Wells Fargo Building, and 
of course [John] Portman designed the Bonaventure Hotel 
around this space, and it's a notable space in the urban 
scene today. 

Another space that is hopefully to be maintained is 
that which is existing around the Los Angeles Public Library, 
and even though there is now a request for proposal to buy 
that land, in return for somebody to build a new library, 
we hope to maintain that space by our own individual actions, 
which involve countermoves and suggestions on our part, 
independent of any client, to establish some kind of an 
urban molding of space and buildings that will be comple- 

Another space is the space that we developed to the 


south of Security Pacific Bank, and this was due principally 
to the rules and regulations of the Community Redevelopment 
Agency, but there is a huge open space that is permanently 
dedicated over the roof of the garages (which happen to be 
parks) . Then, of course, Pershing Square is a permanent 

There are new spaces evolving. One I'm very excited 
about is the South Park plan, which is being developed by 
the Community Redevelopment Agency and will bring into the 
southern part of the downtown area large parks, around 
which will be residential buildings. 
LASKEY: Where is that, specifically? 

MARTIN: That is, it's aligned to Hope Street, which will 
be vacated to the south of Ninth Street or Olympic [Boule- 
vard] , I'm not sure which. But it's in process right now, 
the first block is, and that's going to become another 
great open space. These open spaces and all of the civic 
activity that continually develops around such a major 
project become dedications of ours, so that we as private 
citizens do have an opinion as to how the whole thing is 
pulling together. In that sense, getting back to the 
original question, the way I feel is that we are really 
making strides in molding the downtown portion of the city 
of Los Angeles into, I believe, a very, very beautiful, 
well-composed business center, cultural and governmental 
center, I should say. 


LASKEY: Do you ever have proprietary feelings about the 

MARTIN: I do if they start to impinge upon these motives 
that I have had and, to some extent, Ed has had. As I 
mentioned some time before, Ed and I have advocated a large 
international section, international exhibit and trade 
center section, to the south end of the city, immediately 
to the north of this new South Park that I just described. 
So, yes, if we see things being done that are quite negative 
to this urban plan, we subliminally offer alternative 
suggestions to see if we can't help to see the city evolve 
in a decent sense. 

LASKEY: This is a little off the subject we're talking 
about, and we'll come back to it, but there's a question 
I've always wondered about an architect: When you design a 
building for a client and then that client does things to 
the building once they move in that you find totally wrong, 
do you get angry about it? How do you deal with that, or 
do you just have to turn it off and say it's their building, 
and you don't have control over it? Is it always your 
building I guess is the question I'm trying to ask you. 
MARTIN: Well, generally speaking, we have good luck. We 
really use all of our influence during the creation of the 
designs and the evolution of the buildings, when they're 


occupied by commercial tenants, particularly. We use all 
of our influence to sell the idea that their improvements 
should be very compatible with the spirit of the design. 
We don't give up easy, and sometimes we're considered to be 
fairly rigid in our opinions, not only in aesthetic opinions 
but in engineering opinions. We have been criticized for 
being difficult to work with, but, on the other hand, that 
sometimes is an asset, because we have developed some very 
pure buildings, like ARCO, Security Pacific, and certainly 
the Department of Water and Power. They are very pure. 
Now, there are occasions — One of those occasions, 
incidentally, as a matter of interest, happened at 
St. Basil's Church, which we felt was a very pure expression 
of contemporary thinking in the creation of a church for the 
adoration of God and that the idea of imagery within the 
church should be very sensitively handled and should be an 
acceptable part of the design. Now, that church is homo- 
geneous material. It's poured concrete, the aggregate of 
the concrete has been exposed by bushhammering, and our 
dear friend Monsignor [Benjamin] Hawkes, in his enthusiasm 
for the drama, has inserted into the areas of the church 
two large, grotesque statues, which are out of harmony with 
the design. 

LASKEY: Where are these statues? 
MARTIN: They're in the foyer, and then one of them is 


outside, the southwest corner of the parking lot. And they're 
just not quite in keeping. And even though we have critiqued 
them and he's invited us to critique them, his determination 
[has] prevailed. I think that it is a shame to have those 
statues in there, because St, Basil's is not a church for 
statues or imagery. We have subordinated such things in 
that design. We have reflected, and we've created a recep- 
tivity for imagination, but not to impose some grotesque 
image of a powerful saint into this place of God, So I 
think that that is quite a test. We lost the battle, but 
it's a case at hand, at least. 

LASKEY: The interior of the church has not been harmed? 
MARTIN: No, the interior of the church is really quite in 
keeping with the way it was designed. 
LASKEY: Could you describe it? 

MARTIN: The inspiration for the design was a place similar 
to the crags of Edinburgh, with vertical cliffs, strong 
counterimages of different planes, with the structure of 
these walls being such that light was sensitively emitted 
into the building, and as the path of the sun traveled 
through the dome of the sky, during the daytime in both 
winter and summer seasons, the emission and introduction of 
light into the church has been carefully handled. Of course, 
the windows designed by Claire Falkenstein were created to 
complement the swing of the sun; in other words, they were 


cool colors when the hot sun would pour in and warm 
colors on the east side when the sun would be at that side. 
These tall, sculptural, concrete forms, with their oblique 
positioning paralleling the sides of the nave, complemented 
the historic form of the usual cruciform church. Not 
exactly, because they're parallel and we do not have a 
transept as such. But the handling of the walls in the 
section of the altar was very sensitively composed to settle 
down the strong movement of the positioning of the walls as 
you view the whole church. I think it's an outstanding 
piece of sculpture, an outstanding church in every sense. 
LASKEY: You have won many awards for it. 
MARTIN: Well, it hasn't been submitted to very many 
competitions, but we have not won too many awards. There 
have been a lot of recognition of the church, but nothing 
like an outstanding American Institute of Architects 
national award. The publication of the church has been 
very subtle, to say the least, and controlled by the 
archdiocese. That hasn't really bothered me in any sense, 
I know the church is a fine design, and whether it receives 
the credit of many organizations, it doesn't bother me. 
LASKEY: Well, you have had a long association with 
St. Basil's. Did you particularly enjoy doing this one? 
I recall from an earlier interview that you grew up near 


MARTIN: Yes, our homeplace was at 712 South Catalina 
[Street], which was a key lot just inside of the corner 
of Seventh and Catalina. In the earliest times, probably 
in the early twenties, the diocese built St. Basil's Church, 
and my father was the architect. It was a temporary church, 
built out of half-wood framing, similar to an English 
Gothic church, and it was an outstanding church. They soon 
grew out of it, and the parish priest was not able to buy 
our homeplace for the parish house, and so they moved the 
church to Wilshire and Harvard [boulevards]. My father was 
still the architect, and an addition was put into the church 
at that time. I was starting to be a little active, 
especially when the church had a big section of it burn out 
and we had to rebuild the church. 

Then that same church, which was the parish of 
Monsignor [Edward] Kirk, who was noted for his adoration of 
the Blessed Virgin Mary and noted throughout the city for 
his ability in preaching love and such things, became very 
famous and then, finally, just before we started the design 
for the new church, it burnt down again, a second time. 
We did have, fortunately, a new church on the way. So, 
yes, St. Basil's--or as my youngest son, when he was an 
infant, said, when he announced that St. Basil's had burned 
down, he said, "Mama, St. Bastard's burned down." [laughter] 
But anyway, yes, St. Basil's Church was very dear to my 


family and myself. I was an altar boy there for many 
years under Monsignor Kirk. 

LASKEY: Speaking of awards and the AIA sort of brings us 
back on track of what we were talking about, which is your 
involvement with the city and with architecture. You might 
want to talk about your involvement with the American 
Institute of Architects. 

MARTIN: Well, I went through the chairs at the Southern 
California chapter of the AIA and finally became the 
president. It was, I believe, a very strong chapter, with 
an advancing membership, and I believe that it was in very 
good condition at that time, better than it is today. The 
members were of seemingly more business substance and pro- 
fessional substance than we find in the changing membership 
today, even though now, today, there is over one thousand 
members. The time of leadership and presidency was — It 
reminds me of the time today, [because] one of the critical 
issues is dues and a dues structure, and I had a lot to do 
with the formation of formulas for dues structure at that 
time. That lasted clear on through and probably, even 
though it has been changed recently, probably will be 
returned to my same formulas soon. But that's beside the 

I was therefore active in the new organization at that 
time, which was called the California Council of Architects. 


And I became the vice-president of the California Council. 
LASKEY: When was this? 

MARTIN: I can't remember. In the late fifties, I guess. 
And I helped to launch that organization, which fundamentally 
was developed for the total advancement of the profession 
and for particular attention to detrimental legislation 
that was always popping up in Sacramento. We maintained a 
legislative advocate for the state group of architects and 
established an organization that is very strong today, and 
so I was on the fringes of that. 

LASKEY: What would you consider detrimental legislation, 
for example? 

MARTIN: Well, the licensing of unqualified people. For 
example, the designers were often people that were not able 
to qualify for practice and pass the examination, and so 
they would be designing some important smaller work, and 
for which they may have been qualified, but certainly not 
to hold an architect's license. So they would continually 
introduce bills into the legislature which would usurp the 
position of the architectural profession. That would be 
one case, and then there are myriad of other cases related 
to government work, related to the building of a huge 
bureaucracy in the state architect's office, which inciden- 
tally has now been pretty much abandoned, but at one time 
it was a huge bureaucracy, practicing architecture, and that 


was one of our continual fights. 

LASKEY: Now you became an [AIA] fellow in 1955. What does 

that mean? 

MARTIN: Well, I was the youngest fellow in the history of 

the AIA at that time. It means that the peers on a national 

level recognized me for the work that I have done, which 

includes service to the institute and for design. And it 

means that this is the highest honor that you can receive, 

other than receiving the Gold Medal, which is given annually 

by the American Institute of Architects. It's really an 

outstanding senior position. So I was very young to receive 

it and very happy about it. 

LASKEY: Then you became chapter president about three 

years after that, in 1958, which would have been just about 

the time that the height restrictions were lifted from the 

city. Were you involved in that? 

MARTIN: Not very much, not very much. I was in favor of 

lifting them, but I don't remember taking any particular 

leadership in that event. I was very happy it occurred, 

but I was not an instigator. 

LASKEY: Well, the architectural milieu of Los Angeles for 

a long time was in its houses. Did you find that most of 

the architects at that time were designers of houses, as 

opposed to large buildings as you do? 

MARTIN: With a few exceptions, most of the outstanding 


architects in the early days were designers of houses, 
from smaller houses to large mansions. There was a very 
important architectural practice in the design of major 
homes here, and there were architects like [Myron] Hunt 
and [H. C.] Chambers, Gordon Kaufmann, who later designed 
the Times Building, [Irving] Gill, and many others that had 
their major practice in residential work. I believe some of 
the most capable architects in the country were here in 
Los Angeles, as exemplified by the outstanding residential 
design that is found in Pasadena and other places. There 
were some exceptions to that, such as a firm by the name 
of Morgan, Walls, and Clements, and Bob [Robert] Clements is 
the successor to that firm today. 

There was Claude Beelman, which was once Curlett and 
Beelman. And [Aleck] Curlett was related to the young man 
that — Oh, I guess it was Curlett that my father invited 
down to help him with the design of Grauman's Million 
Dollar Theatre. [It was actually William Woolett. — M.L.] 
He's a very imaginative designer, later became Curlett and 
Beelman, very important architects. Finally, Beelman did 
many contemporary buildings. 

There was the dean of the profession, John Parkinson, 
who I believe had as fine a reputation as any architect in 
the city. He was a Scotchman that came to the city, having 
a background of millwork, as a cabinetmaker, and he of course 


became a highly educated architect as he grew into his 
professional stature. He had a son, Donald, who later 
carried on the practice and was noted particularly for 
Bullock's Wilshire, 

There was John Austin, another partner of Dad's in 
the City Hall along with Parkinson, who was really an 
outstanding architect in lots of ways. He was really a civic 
leader and was the only other architect, besides myself, to 
be president of the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce. 
So he had stature and outstanding political connections and 
financial connections. He was a very good architect. His 
firm later became Austin, Field, and Fry, which still exists 

LASKEY: When you came into architecture, you were sort of 
at the beginning of the model movement in Los Angeles. 
MARTIN: Yes. A movement that was a challenging one, to 
say the least, because our training was in the school of 
the beaux arts and all teaching at all universities was 
modeled after the beaux arts system. In my second year at 
the university, USC started the transition under 
Dean [Arthur Clason] Weatherhead to branch into the 
so-called modern architectural teaching. The inspiration 
really came from the European schools principally, although 
Frank Lloyd Wright had a lot to do with it: but the Bauhaus, 
from Germany; the French school, which supplanted the 


beaux arts finally under the leadership of Le Corbusier; 
the Rome school, that was moving in the same direction of 
modernism under some outstanding modern architects from 
Italy. (Which is always the case, incidentally.) The Italian 
architects were really so sensitive, and are today, really 
outstanding designers; and then, of course, our own western 
school, which was, as I mentioned before, really the 
evolution of the inspiration that emanated from the 
World's Fair of 1893, Chicago. 

The Chicago school, it was called sometimes, included 
the influence of Louis Sullivan and [Henry Hobson] Richardson 
and later on Frank Lloyd Wright and others similar to him. 
In the local arena, the leader, I think, was [Richard] Neutra, 
who was a dear friend of mine — he and his wife — and my wife. 
We had many social contacts, and Neutra really was an 
inspired architect. He had a hard time locally being 
accepted by the established architectural firms, but his 
work was outstanding really. His firm still continues 
under his son [Dion] . 

LASKEY: I think Mrs. Neutra is still alive, 
iMARTIN: And perhaps iMrs . Neutra is still alive. They 
used to have concerts. I think she played the violin, as 
a matter of fact. [Mrs. Dione Neutra plays the cello. 

— M.L.] 

LASKEY: She was quite a lady, or she is quite a lady. 


MARTIN: Yes, yes, 

LASKEY: Did you ever have any contact v;ith Rudolph Schindler? 
MARTIN: Never, never. I knew he was working, and at that 
time his work was not recognized for its quality that it 
does have. He was there, but I don't think too many people 
recognized him at that time. 

LASKEY: Did it ever occur to you at that time to go in 
that direction of modern housing? 

MARTIN: I think that I was always inspired by Frank Lloyd 
Wright and am today: the scale of his designs and his 
techniques of construction, which of course are completely 
homogeneous with the structure and the design, and his 
great amount of warmth through his detail. I think he 
must be noted as one of the most exciting, interpretive 
architects ever existing through time, I would say, Frank 
Lloyd Wright truly was a master of ornament and decoration. 
Probably more so than Richardson and Sullivan, who were 
working in the field of ornamentation in architecture, , 
especially as exemplified in the windov/s of Carson Pirie 
Scott and Company in Chicago. But Frank Lloyd Wright, I 
believe, would be my principal inspiration for whatever 
I did, and perhaps more so in forming a judgment as to 
design, which I think, in- self-criticism, I probably have 
a deeper feeling for making judgments and appraisals and 
guidance of the work of others than actually the development 
of designs of my own. 


LASKEY: I think you said once — in fact, in an interviev/ — 
that "my role in the firm is to provide an analysis and 
critique of the design of others. I try first to be a 
good critic. " 

MARTIN: I think that prevails today, although I do not 
engage in criticism particularly today. I think that, even 
as time goes on, at this age my future will include parti- 
cipation in a new thing that David is starting, and that is 
a design review committee, chaired by Karl Klokke. That is 
just starting up in the firm, so I feel encouraged that 
criticism of our designs will be an ongoing process. 
LASKEY: What is your role with the firm today? 
24ARTIN: Well, for the past two years I've been absorbed by 
this Bicentennial thing, and perhaps too much: I don't 
know, I've debated that subject. It is a success, and the 
firm has received great publicity from it, through my 
nejne principally. I'd say my role today is still making 
judgments as to problem solving in human relationships and 
client relationships and to generally watch the movement of 
the firm as it handles its ever-moving problems. The 
problems are so similar from year to year, and they are 
the same problems that we had thirty to forty years ago, 
that I've been there before and I know what some of the 
results were. 


The practice today is considerably different in that 
the computer is having such an impact on the development 
of our work, and properly so. I mean, all of our standard 
details today are stored in the computer, and we press a 
button and they appear on a drawing and that's really an 
advancement. But I do encourage freedom of thinking, and 
if there was a philosophy that's strong in the firm, and it 
still prevails, is that we give an opportunity to other 
architects to express themselves in the designs that emanate 
from the firm, but we very carefully manage those designs 
so that they are outstanding designs and exemplify our 
own endorsement, so to speak. 
LASKEY: How is a design agreed upon? ■' ' 

MARTIN: The design is agreed upon by the director of design, 
which I used to be and David is today. It's a final say 
in design, and it's an important role. And we have to watch 
it carefully because we have so many people doing designs, 
solving architectural planning problems, that the role of 
being director of design is critical. We have outstanding 
people, like Michael 0' Sullivan, who have an approach that 
is a very interesting, earthy type of a pure approach, and 
Mike does deserve criticism, but his designs have been very 
creditable, and the firm has received a lot of credit for 
his work. 
LASKEY: Getting back for just a second to Frank Lloyd Wright 


and your influence by him, were you influenced by the 
structures out here? Particularly because most of the 
houses that he built he had built in the twenties. 
MARTIN: No. I was, I believe, influenced by the work 
that he did in Wisconsin, in the northern states. There's 
a job I think by the name of "Fallingwater , " or something, 
that he did for, I believe, [Edgar J.] Kaufmann, and that 
design was less sculptural in its detail than some of his 
earlier work, which was influenced so strongly by the 
Indian culture of the Americas. But I would say that his 
Chicago work was an influence in my thinking,, as was the 
work of Sam Marx and Noel Flint, who worked with us on 
May Company; I became very strongly aligned to Noel Flint's 

LASKEY: Who was Noel Flint? 

MARTIN: Noel Flint was an architect who worked for 
Sam Marx in Chicago designing such restaurants as the 
Buttery in Chicago and the Ambassador East, which were at 
the time really magnificent design developments, dovm to 
the silverware and the cutlery and things like that. It 
was a beautiful influence of design. Noel Flint didn't 
live too long, but he really was a great architect. 
LASKEY: Are there any architects who are particularly 
influential today that come to your mind? 
MARTIN: Well, I think that there are young architects that 


are doing fine work, and I don't really recognize any one 
of them as being an inspiration to me . I just know that 

the caliber of the work all through Southern California 
is ten steps above the caliber of the work when I was 
young . 


JUNE 2, 19 81 

LASKEY: The West is far above what it is in the rest of 
the country. Why do you think that is? 

MARTIN: Well, I believe that the universities have for the 
last twenty to thirty years been teaching a broader concept 
of architecture. They've been teaching concepts which 
involve the total area of the project, the composition of 
all the elements within the master plans of projects, and 
the relationship again between space and the building form. 
In other words, the accent has been very much on the impor- 
tance of space and circulation and relative impacts of 
building forms. The accent has drawn away from the structure 
of the building to a great extent. 

Now, that has been a very disturbing element in the 
educational process. As soon as the schools started moving 
away from the importance of the structure, the designers 
and architects started drifting into more dramatic expressions 
of architectural form, which really was kind of a revolution 
against the rigidity of the structure as taught and 
preached by the Bauhaus . The Bauhaus , as I mentioned before, 
was a very strong influence because it was the use of 
manufactured materials, like standard beams and steel, and 
the expression of those materials within the building. That 


created great rigidity and duplication in architecture. 
As a revolt against that rigidity, the schools were 
teaching a freedom of design and a movement away from the 
importance of structure, and some very bad things 

The commercial structures — Before that, I should say, 
in their search for imaginative solutions, many of the 
architects reached back into history and started to adapt 
pseudoarchitectural motifs and incorporate those false 
architectural forms into the architecture. Now this, I 
think, was a disaster, and I'm sure that there's a lot of 
work built in Southern California the last twenty years 
which is pseudo-Spanish, for example, that will go down in 
history as being of no consequence whatsoever. However, as 
usually happens, that trend towards eclecticism again 
borrowing from other architectural styles and "facadism" 
is often found in the thinking of Bill [William] Pereira, 
for example, who is a fine architect but engaging in 
facadism, the dramatic part of entertainment and the 
influence of the movie studios. And the movie studios did 
engage in a lot of facadism, because that's the nature of 
the business. That had a great impact on the architects 
in this region. 

Now, again the pendulum keeps swinging, and we are 
moving away from, and have moved away from, the pseudo- 


adaptation of architectural forms into the current 
work and have moved in towards something that I believe is 
quite homogeneous to this area. It is an architecture 
which well exemplifies the nature of the walls and the 
windows and the openings, and it includes great considera- 
tion to the importation of light into interior spaces, for 
the importation of exterior landscaping into interior 
spaces, often described in atriums, that are found in most 
buildings today. And generally speaking, a much more 
honest use of materials. The structure generally is treated 
with respect by the younger architects today. Not perfectly, 
but it is happening. So I think there is a new architectural 
expression that is forthcoming. 

Now, how has that affected our recent work or the 
recent work of other architects? All you have to do is to 
drive through some of the outstanding industrial areas in 
the Irvine Ranch area and find some of the industrial 
corporate headquarters that are gems of architecture, with 
beautiful landscaping and setbacks, and yet in those things, 
although they're not manufacturing generally and some of 
them are manufacturing of a light nature, we find keen 
architectural interest in spaces for people; and perhaps 
the expression that is really emerging is [that] the archi- 
tecture is becoming much more receptive for the people that 
are working and living within those forms. I see a very 


personal architecture evolving. 

Now, the names of the young architects, none of them 
have risen to be bright stars, but they're there. And I 
think the best work is yet to be done. No question in my 
mind that as we move away from the rigidity of the financial 
pro forma and enhance our buildings with more personal 
spaces, even the commercial buildings, we will find a 
different kind of architecture happening. Of course the 
greatest influence of all, these days, is because of the 
energy shortage and the high cost of materials, the use of 
lightweight walls, the development of new modern glasses 
that reflect light and heat. And so the energy shortage and 
the closer management of light and the abandonment of high 
brightness interior lighting is all changing the nature of 
architecture. We now really are not illuminating all of 
our commercial spaces with bright high-f ootcandle-power 
illumination; we are reducing it way down and using local 
task lighting to do our work. This saves a lot of energy. 
So you can see very clearly it affects architecture. 
LASKEY: It also sounds like there's been a complete 
reversal of the theories of the Bauhaus and a new humanism 
regarding architecture is developing. 

MARTIN: I think that that's well said, that humanism is 
the word. The Bauhaus, however, I must say, could be very 
humanistic. Much more so than the eclecticism which came 


to bear on architects striving to find something that was 
imaginative and yet without having the ability to create or 
adapt even very well. 

I will say one thing about the refinement of the 
beaux arts: that the architects who were highly trained 
in that particular school, about the early twenties and the 
1910s, did some magnificent work in the adaptation 
of the forms and the spirits of the classics, and hence 
these beautiful classic homes that you find all over the 
nation, with spaces that are inspiring spaces, with elegance 
that is not found in some of the humanistic trends. So 
that is an era that is gone, but one that will go down in 
history as being refinement of the historic styles and so 
forth that was notable. 

LASKEY: And that's the era your father came out of. 
MARTIN: Yes, absolutely. My father came out with appreci- 
ation for the refinement of the classical beaux arts schools. 
He was influenced considerably, because he was from the 
Illinois area, by the more practical aspects, although if 
you look at his work he had this great sense of need for 
good architecture. And he saw to it that his work was fine. 
So it's a great heritage, especially if one really gives the 
time to analyze the background and influences of that 
heritage, because these architects, and my father and 
myself coming along, have been working in the field with a 


very rapidly changing society. The financial system has 
changed considerably. The energy system has changed 
considerably. Material supplies and all of these things 
have had a rapid transition, and so we have had the privi- 
lege of working in that kind of an environment. I think 
it's exciting. 

LASKEY: Well, Peter Blake, in the book that's an attack 
on modernism, called Form Follows [ Fiasco ] , accuses architects 
generally of not testing some of the new materials. How 
does A. C. Martin and Associates deal with new materials 
and the use of new materials? 

MARTIN: Well, we have a strong feeling for quality, and 
that implies — and all of our work is this way--implies quality 
all through our work. Now, some architects aren't privileged 
to deal with quality materials, and they have made do with 
other substitutes. I think, however, that most of the 
architects that have misused materials just don't know any 
better, that they don't have the real fiber within themselves 
to use materials properly. The use of materials, I guess, 
is one of the most sensitive talents that an architect can 
have, and you see many examples of a lack of understanding 
on the part of the architect as to what it is really going 
to do. Many of them. The fact is you find plaster made 
into wood forms and vice-versa. These transgressions are 
unfortunate, but that's the way it is with many professions. 


Some excel and some do not. I have cited that there are 
young architects today that are very good, but all of them 
aren't very good, and that's been true through history of 
course. I think it comes from a real understanding of the 
nature of the materials and the nature of the architecture 
using those materials. And that is what it's all about. 
That I think is a sign of a talented, mature architectural 

LASKEY: Have you had any real surprises in designs that 
you've made? For instance, the way a shadow would fall, or 
some element that couldn't be designed or built into your 
design that has turned out to be especially nice? 
MARTIN: Well, I've seen some structural details that were 
done for structural reasons that have turned out to be 
really beautiful things if one really looks at that detail 
and concentrates on it, enhances it. Yes, I'm sure that in 
the evolution of designs the creation of space and shadov/ 
and light always brings a thrill when it comes to pass. 
Also, counter to that, when you know you've made a mistake, 
it becomes a glaring mistake; something you've done may not 
have been quality. Most of the mistakes that I know of 
have been more [from] following the trend of doing one part 
of a project as an office, let's say, in one kind of an 
architectural development and the warehouse portion of it 
being of corrugated iron, and there really is no apparent 


unification between the designs. I'd say that that's v/rong. 
We've done it many times, and it's unfortunate, doesn't 
have to be that way. The structure of an industrial plant 
can be absolutely magnificent. 

Matter of fact, I believe the time that a high-rise 
building is most exciting is when the frame is up and you 
can look right through it. Yeah, like that. [looking out 
window] That is very exciting because it's pure. You 
know that there it is, it's a structure, and we're going to 
very carefully clad it with materials to resist the weather 
and, hopefully, not to conceal the structure. In other 
words, the building should reflect organism and purity of 
structure, which is an old thesis but has prevailed through- 
out the practice of Albert C. Martin and Associates. The 
structure has to be clean and pure, otherv/ise we have 
conglomerate architecture, which generally is a mistake. 
LASKEY: How much control do you have over the building as 
it goes up? 

MARTIN: We have lots of control over the building as it 
goes up, yes. Lots of it. And there are trespasses, as 
we talked about a little while ago, but most owners that 
we deal with will not violently oppose their architect, 
because they hired him to be their architect. And when 
they venture into architecture, it's usually distasteful, 
actually, because they interfere. Now, that doesn't mean 


that we don't become terribly inspired with our clients, 

because we do . It's like Bob Anderson of ARCO and 

Herbert Bayer, who is his counsel. Mow, Herbert Bayer has 

been one of our greatest advocates and supporters and, at 

times, critics. But he's a Bauhaus man, and Anderson is 

too . 

LASKEY: When you say Herbert Bayer is a Bauhaus man, you 

might want to elaborate on that a bit. 

MARTIN: Well, he's the last of the masters from the Bauhaus. 

LASKEY: He really is. 

MARTIN: He's the last living master. And we worked v/ith 

Herbert Bayer way before we met him through ARCO. We 

worked with him when he was with Container Corporation of 

America, and he developed a book for them which was like a 

World Book. It [ World Geo-Graphic Atlas ] had to do with the 

geography of the world and the graphic representation of all 

the continents and so forth, and that was done under the 

guidance of Herbert Bayer. 

LASKEY: Well, graphics was his strong point, wasn't it? 

MARTIN: Herbert Bayer was really a graphic artist, more so, 

I think, than an architect. But he is outstanding, and I 

think he is one of the last of the masters. 

LASKEY: Now he did the [ Double Ascension ] fountain in the 

plaza, the ARCO Plaza. 

MARTIN: Yes, yes. And that has an interesting thing. It was 


really a collaboration between Herbert Bayer and myself. 
I visited with Herbert Bayer at his home in Aspen when I 
was trying to solve the problem of getting the approval of 
the Bank of America and ARCO for the development of the 
plaza. My solution v/as the development of a large fountain, 
a circular fountain, which in my mind was representative of 
the source, the source of power and the source of water, as 
being a motivator. Herbert Bayer accepted that, and he 
felt that one of his creations, which was Double Ascension 
of the stairs, could float over the pool and create an ever 
changing variation in color as they go around and also, 
therefore, a reflection of, let's say, an inspired aesthetic 
response. We did that together, and I think it's one of the 
most successful art forms in the city. Herbert Bayer was 
responsible for the Double Ascension sculpture, and then we 
actually built it for him and designed it. We have passive 
water and we have active water, with great force bubbling 
up, and that's all controlled. 

LASKEY: That sheath of water that goes over the side, that 
almost looks like it's motionless. How did you accomplish 

MARTIN: That's passive — Well, it's very interesting. We 
made the pool deep enough and we had the source of the water 
distributed such that it didn't create any motion in the 
water, so it becomes a glassy sheet hanging over the edge of 


the granite. Whereas then we changed the mode periodically 

to be a very vibrant, heavy evolution of water as it comes 

up, and I was inspired to think that that had something to 

do with the earth and the development of oil and things 

like that. 

LASKEY: You know, of course, that nobody can look at that 

fountain without sticking their finger in it. 

MARTIN: It's really a fine fountain. It's well done, and, 

as I said, we really were the designers of the fountain, 

and Herbert Bayer designed the sculpture. Not any discredit 

to Herbert — all the credit in the world, because I think 

he's a great artist and a great architect. 

LASKEY: That's a great statement about the plaza. 

MARTIN: Oh, it is. I think it's just as good as any. 

LASKEY: Well, the only other sculpture that I can think of 

in the downtown area is also in a building that you did, 

which is the [Alexander] Calder [ The Four Arches ] . 


LASKEY: How did that come about? 

MARTIN: Well, that came about by the inspiration of the 

of f icers--I 'm not sure which officer--of Security Pacific 

Bank. It might have been Fritz [Frederick G.] Larkin, [Jr.]. 

We had an art committee. It probably was Pat [Oscar T.] Lawler, 

who was at that time an executive vice-president and retired, 

who had some experience with Calder 's father [Alexander S. 


Calder] , who was a craftsman that designed and built many 
wrought-iron gates. He knew of that history and he knew of 
Calder 's success in mobiles and so forth. So that committee 
selected this Calder, and I think it's a magnificent piece 
of sculpture and very harmonious with the vertical lines of 
the building and well placed. And Karl Klokke of our office 
had the initiative on that. 
LASKEY: Of siting it there? 

MARTIN: Of siting it and approving it and things like that. 
It's a very good piece of sculpture. 


LASKEY: Mr. Martin, suppose an ARCO or a Security Pacific, a 
Department of Water and Power, in their boardrooms decide that 
they want a new structure built. How do you get involved in that? 
MARTIN: Most of the major projects that we have designed 
were awarded to us after rarher intensive interviews of 
our thoughts and credentials , and we were compared to other 
firms who were generally located in this city, but not 
always. There were many cases where firms that are called 
national firms are brought in and interviewed. We have been 
able to develop a good record, and in the case of the major 
buildings downtown, we have been the dominant firm in this 
particular period of history. There's, you know, five or 
six of the major structures that are credited to our office. 


We sometimes find ourselves building structures for competing 
firms, particularly competing banks, and this is sensitive. 
But since our work exemplifies our understanding of what the 
client's needs are and what the client's philosophy may be, 
we find that our work is everchanging and does harmonize 
with the role that the client takes in the whole business 
society. In other words, we're not building monuments to 
Albert C. Martin and Associates; we really are building 
buildings which are reflective of the quality and desires 
of our clients. And I think that's been part of our success. 
Our work has been quite varied, but very sensitive, as it 
molds into the overall urban scene. 

After we are selected, we spend a great deal of time 
programming the work in a written and sometimes illustratied 
format to try to understand clearly the role that that 
particular corporation plays in the business or society of 
the city. There are many important things, such as image, 
such as the placement of the building form within the over- 
all space of the city, questions related to long-term 
expandability and flexibility; there are practical things, 
such as the resistance to seismic movements, the foundation 
conditions, the inclusion of artwork within the environment, 
and an endless list of matters that need a firm decision on 
the part of the client. Once this program is adopted by 
the client and approved by its board of directors usually. 


we then can plan the first schematic solutions to what we 
believe that program is calling for. This is an exciting 
part of the whole process and one which the client inter- 
faces with us on a very close basis. And of course, as the 
work progresses, there's estimating and there's engineering 
and there's a great deal of detail work related to tenants 
in the building and department layouts and so forth. 
LASKEY: Do you have an initial design concept in mind 
before the firm accepts you, or does that come later? 
MARTIN: We have often developed initial concepts to present 
to the client. That's a touchy point in that some competing 
architects might consider that free services, but when we 
talk to the board of a company we generally like to know 
about the nature of their work, otherwise we're not very 
convincing. Which leads us to do some thinking about that 
prospective client, and, like in the case of Security Pacific 
and the Department of Water and Power, we actually build 
small scale models of what it might be, and I think those 
were very convincing, and I think they were very proper to 
express ourselves. 

LASKEY: Well, something like the Department of Water and 
Power, did you then have to deal with many agencies in the 
city, to get their OK on the building? 

MARTIN: Yes, we had to deal primarily with the Civic Center 
Authority, which was a group of assigned professional staff 


from each of the entities that participated in the Civic 
Center Mall, most of them aligned to the county as well as 
the city, and one representative of the American Institute 
of Architects, in those days. I don't believe that's true 
today. In my estimation they could stand one. [laughter] 
Also, the interdepartmental relationship is pretty well 
expressed in the form of a written program, either prepared 
by ourselves or other consultants that do this work 
specifically . 

LASKEY: Is it more difficult working with the city or 
with a governmental agency than with a private agency? 
MARTIN: I would say it's more difficult because we are 
working with members of a [governmental] bureaucracy rather 
than a private bureaucracy, and there is a difference. As 
I've said at other times during this discussion, the 
bureaucracy within the governmental agencies today is one 
of the biggest problems that society has, because they do 
not have any cohesiA/e role with other bureaucracies leading 
towards the resolution of a single problem. They operate 
on their own, in accordance with their own rules, and 
that's fundamentally why it doesn't work. 
LASKEY: Let's talk specifically about the Well Fargo 
Building, since that is one that is just about finished. 
How did you start with Wells Fargo? 
MARTIN: We started with a very close contact with the 


Community Redevelopment Agency, who had some basic require- 
ments for circulation of people in this particular location 
of Fifth and Flower [streets], which is becoming a point of 
transition between lower Los Angeles and upper Bunker Hill, 
The base of this building is designed for a very strong 
pedestrian movement up through the building in an open 
colonnade, which is unlike most buildings, that are all 
enclosed in the ground levels. So this building has open 
colonnades with open escalators, strong landscape features, 
including an attractive waterfall, which will be in the upper 
plaza, up in the--let's see, Hope Street elevation. And so, 
being open, it's also going to be landscaped with groves of 
tall Riverside palms that we have purchased out in the 
vicinity of Van Buren [Boulevard] , where the old English 
settlers settled into Riverside. They're beautiful 
specimens, so they'll be brought into the city and planted 
down there. 

LASKEY: Nov,-, did you have much trouble in convincing 
Wells Fargo of this design? 

MARTIN: Well, the real control on the design of the building 
was with ARCO, who owned the land, and the ARCO Foundation, 
which supports their retirement program, owns the fee of 
the land, and ARCO retained control and approval of the 
design. Now, ARCO was very cooperative with us, and we were 
sensitive to their feelings. Wells Fargo is a tenant, and 


so the building is really being built by Rockefeller 
Realty Corporation, who owns it. So our principal point of 
satisfaction on the design features was with Rockefeller, 
with secondary approval by ARCO . 

We advanced the idea that the building should be 
stainless steel, and there's no other stainless steel 
building in the city. We knew that, cost being a factor, 
it'd be difficult for us to discover a kind of wall panel 
for the outside, that we could use very thin stainless steel, 
However, we did, and we designed a stainless steel cover 
over a cellular core, which is actually called a honey- 
comb core. And I believe as the building is emerging, it's 
really quite effective, even though there are small ripples 
that can be seen at certain times of the day. It's a very 
clean building, it has a great deal of depth, and it is, 
incidentally, the most important building that David Martin 
has designed. The authorship of the design is his, and the 
determination of all the detail and the artv/ork has been his 
responsibility. So I believe it to be a very great success, 
and I believe that the tenant, Wells Fargo, does appreciate 
the building now more than in the beginning; they were 
worried about the ripples. But I think they really like 
that building. Of course it does a wonderful job of being 
complementary to the whole space development in that 


LASKEY: Now, I think you mentioned before there's going 

to be a pedway that connects the building across 

Flower Street? 

MARTIN: Yes. There is a connection across Flower Street 

to the Bonaventure Hotel, and that, incidentally, hooks up 

with the bridge that we have constructed between the 

Bonaventure Hotel and ARCO Plaza. So the pedestrian 

circulation links well through the area, and that, 

incidentally, is part of the requirement of the 

Community Redevelopment Agency, the master plan for 

Bunker Hill. 

LASKEY: Well, was the idea of the landscaped plaza, was 

that David's too? 

MARTIN: Yes, the palm trees — all those ideas have emanated 

from his hand, you might say, and so it's a great pleasure 

for the firm and for him. 

LASKEY: To backtrack just a bit in the Rockefeller- 

ARCO-Wells Fargo triangle, that brings up the subject of 

financing. How is a project as large as that financed? 

It must be very complicated. 

MARTIN: I'm not certain of all the intricate financial 

arrangements. I believe Rockefeller has financed it with 

conventional financing. Undoubtedly they have a very 

strong portfolio of assets, which would make financing 

such a building not too difficult. They will have over 


$100 million in the project eventually. I hear that they 
consider it to be one of the best investments of all their 
investments throughout the United States, and I hope that's 
true. But they're pleased with the building. 
LASKEY: Now, what are these ripples that you have talked 
about? Is that on the coating on the stainless steel? 
MARTIN: Yes, the stainless steel, which is the outside 
skin of a large prefabricated panel, is less than a sixteenth 
of an inch thick and it is cemented to an impregnated honey- 
comb core, which is similar to that which is being used in 
aircraft design. On the inside of the panel is a regular 
steel sheet, and these materials are clamped together to 
form a sandwich construction. That sandwich panel is then 
fitted into some aluminum extruded frames, which also contain 
the glare-reducing glass. In that case we have double glass 
with a vacuum on the inside, so that there's less direct 
transmission of heat. We have radiant heat, but convected 
heat is eliminated by this double pane of glass. So in the 
process of laying on the thin stainless-steel exterior sheet, 
which is highly polished, there is a lack of perfection, 
especially for a mirror-like material, where any kind of a 
distortion will cause uneven reflections. This is true in 
any polished building. ARCO, for example, has a great deal 

of unevenness if you're looking for it. Most people don't 
know it because they're not looking for it. But the very 


nature of stones being erected one on top of the other, or 
the very nature of a mirror-like surface, if there's any 
unevenness you can discern it. So we were very sensitive to 
that, and we think this has come off quite well, really, and 
will withstand a lot of time. 

LAS KEY : Now, David designed the building, and your engi- 
neering department perfected the techniques. ARCO and 
Rockefeller accepted. How do you get it built, the actual 

MARTIN: Well, in this case the general contractor is Tishman 
Construction Company, and at the time we started the building, 
Tishman Construction Company was owned by Rockefeller Realty, 
as well as Cushman and Wakefield [of California, Inc.], which 
is still owned by Rockefeller. So the team was kind of a 
family team. In the process, however, of doing the job, 
Tishman Construction Company was bought back by John Tishman, 
Abe Bolsky, and some others. So that it it now independent 
of Rockefeller. However, they're still the general contractor. 
LASKEY: How important is the choice of a general contractor? 
MARTIN: Well, I think extremely important. There's some 
contractors that are much easier to work with — that is, our 
organization with theirs--and we have always had some 
difficulty working with the Tishman organization through the 
years. They're New York-oriented and very tough and very 
ruthless, whereas people like Turner [Construction Company], 


or [C.L.] Peck [Contractor], or in former days William 
Simpson [Construction] were really more reasonable in 
their activities, which brought in so much cohesiveness 
as necessary. Tishman will do a fine job, they're a fine 
concern, but there's a great difference between firms. So 
we establish our preferences, but we'll work with almost 
any of them that have the ability to do such a major project. 
LAS KEY : Is it usually your choice? 
MARTIN: Very seldom is it our choice. 
LASKEY: Really! 

MARTIN: We recommend a list, and we sit in judgment often 
with the owners, and we lead the discussion in many cases 
of the characteristics and qualifications of the proposed 
contractors. And we may make a recommendation that the owner 
may follow, but not always, not always. There may be some 
other connections that will be more important in regards to 
that very big decision. 

LASKEY: What about collaboration with other firms? Is that 
something you try to avoid? 

MARTIN: Well, we have through the years resisted collaboration 
with other firms, and the resistance emanates from several 
points of consideration. I'd say the most important is that 
most architectural firms have a tremendous pride of author- 
ship of the design, and that pride then filters through the 
entire organization, and hence it is with us and with the 


others, the other architects or architectural engineers that 
we might consider collaborating with. So many cases we're the 
only truly integrated AE [architecture-engineering] firm, and 
when we tie up with another architect, the only thing he can 
contribute is architectural design, theoretically. So that 
makes a rather limited choice on our part, because we can 
contribute both architecture and architectural engineering 
and our other kinds of engineering. However, we say to 
prospective collaborators that we will either be a consultant 
to them or they will be a consultant to us. Very seldom do 
we advocate joint ventures, which are frowned upon by our 
liability insurance company because of split assets as 
security for the policy. So we are very selective, really, 
with those that we agree to consult with. Generally speaking, 
it's our opinion that the major work and major design process 
has to be undertaken by one firm or the other, and so that 
guides us in our discussions. 


JUNE 9, 19 81 

LASKEY: Are there any collaborations that you have done 
that have been successful? 

MARTIN: Well, in the design of the Union Bank Square, which was 
designed originally for Connecticut General Life Insurance Com- 
pany, we were associated with Wally [V^;allace K.] Harrison and 
Max Abramovitz of New York. They were part of the architec- 
tural team that designed the United Nations and were close 
to the developers of this building, Galbreath-Ruf f in 
[Corporation] . We found that collaboration to be a great 
pleasure in every sense, and Max Abramovitz and his staff 
were the principal originators of the design of this building. 
We had one of our staff with them in New York during crucial 
times, and then we did all the working drawings and basic 
engineering, other than the mechanical engineering, which was 
done in New York. It was a fine collaboration. 

Another major collaboration we had was with Charles Luckman 
and Associates on the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. I would 
say it was a very good collaboration, even though we ended up 
with difficulties between the two firms because we were all 
sued by the owner finally, as well as the contractor, in 
major lawsuits. 
LASKEY: Resulting from what? 


MARTIN: From claimed errors and omissions, and we felt, 
that is, Charles Luckman and ourself felt, that the ownership 
of the Cedars-Sinai hospital was very unfair in their 
perspective. The basis of their claims were the documents 
that I myself prepared to enlighten them as to the extent of 
omissions that might have occurred, and they turned that 
around and sued us with our own list. In a job that size we 
always have errors and omissions. We go into the job warning 
the owner that in a building where there may be ten thousand 
decisions made by our staff, all related, that sometime there's 
going to be an error or you might omit something. So even 
with that kind of a background, these days you have to be 
careful that you're not sued on almost every job. It's just 
like the state of the medical profession, it's exactly the 
same way. It's an unfortunate condition, and we had that, 
and it was very bitter. But my reaction was that it was a 
good collaboration with Charles Luckman and his group. They're 
very capable, and even though we were estranged it was still 
a very good collaboration. We did 99 percent of the work 
maybe, or something like that, but that didn't mean that they 
didn't contribute greatly. 

Other associations are of very little consequence in my 
mind, and we do not generally practice with this kind of a 
business arrangement. 
LASKEY: Well, the Cedars problem brings up another question: 


Clients pick you; do you ever pick your clients? 
MARTIN: Oh, we still are running all the time trying to get 
work, I would say. It's a work ethic that's not particularly 
relaxing, that we try to get every major job. We miss a lot 
of them, but we do pretty well, too. So the spirit of compe- 
tition prevails strongly in the architectural profession 
today. We do our share of it. 

LASKEY : Have you ever turned down a client? 
MARTIN: Yes, we have, and generally because the client 
indicates that he either doesn't understand the process, or 
he may possibly be a client that we know is not going to be 
a good client, that he may have characteristics that indicate 
to us that trouble is on the horizon. And so, yes, occasionally, 
not very often. •' ' 

LASKEY: What is a good client? 

MARTIN: A good client is a person that really, in all 
truthfulness, will join with you in an understanding way to 
see that the building gets done well. A client that can make 
a decision and stick with it and a client that pays his bills 
on time. So those things probably, in that order, and of 
course there are magnificent clients around, especially the 
big corporations, like ARCO, Security Pacific, they pay their 
bills and they pay them on time, and they do engage in the 
process with you in a very businesslike way. All clients 
aren't like that. 


LASKEY : With ARCO , for example, speaking of internal politics, 
do you have to deal with a number of agencies within ARCO, 
or do you deal with just one board? 

MARTIN: We deal with many of their agencies within their own 
organization, because, as I mentioned, we must first draft a 
program of needs, and those large corporations have departments 
that are constantly describing and summing up the required 
facilities. So we usually end up with a branch of the facil- 
ities development group within the corporation, and our staff 
works with their staff over a program. Now, some of them are 
very sophisticated, some of them have some very strong proce- 
dural techniques that often clash with ours, and it's a give- 
and-take, but most of our clients end up to be good clients. 
LASKEY: You said that Wells Fargo is going to cost in the 
area of $100 million. 

LASKEY: That's a lot of money. What size — What I'm trying 
to do is to relate the size of a project like that with the 
size of your firm. How large is Albert C. Martin and Associates 
right now? 

MARTIN: Albert C. Martin and Associates now has a staff of 
a little over three hundred people. We have offices in 
Los Angeles, where the headquarters is. Orange County, Houston, 
and New York. The New York office is an office that we 
acquired when we once acquired Morganelli-Heumann [and Associates], 



an interiors firm, which we later sold back to them, just 
to get rid of it. But we kept the New York firm, which is 
Kenneth Pfeiffer and Fidel Miro [Associates], who are planners 
of department store interiors. They're one of the best 
interiors planning and merchandising firms in the United 
States. They do good work, they are barely profitable most 
of the time, and we like them very much. They're controlled 
by us completely, but we do not, because of the distance, 
interfere with their design approach. It is a bit of an 
arm's length arrangement. 

Houston we do control stringently, because it is an 
architectural engineering office, and we have some good work 
there, hopefully good enough, with good enough management to 
make a go of it. Our thesis is really that Albert C. Martin 
and Associates will function in the future generally along 
the Houston-Los Angeles axis and that, since Houston is the 
gateway to the Gulf [of Mexico] and South Ajnerica and Europe, 
and Los Angeles is the gateway to the Pacific, that the 
influence of business will probably flow that way, you see. 
It's a Sun Belt kind of an approach. And we have guided our 
moves to some extent based upon that thesis. I think it's 
sound, and I think it will, in the long-range future, show 
up very well. 

LASKEY: How long have you had the Houston office? 
MARTIN: About four years. It's a small office. 


LASKEY: Was that your decision, then, to open the office? 
MARTIN: Well, when we bought Morganelli-Heumann they had 
a Houston office. That's one of the reasons we bought them, 
so that we could go to Houston with an established office. 
That didn't work out very well, because we closed down the 
interiors part of Morganelli and Heumann and opened up an 
architectural engineering office. So it's been a struggle, 
but I think we're making it now. We believe it's going to 
be good. , " ■ ' 

LASKEY: And Orange County, is that particularly an industrial 


MARTIN: No, Orange County is general practice. It's strange 

that we should have an office in Orange County, which is so 

close to Los Angeles, but there's a lot of people in the 

Orange County area that are provincial, and Los Angeles is 

just a long ways from Orange County, we find. The Orange 

County office is really very successful today. Small, in 

that there's probably twenty-five people there, but we think 

it'll be all right. We do much of the work from Orange County 

in our Los Angeles offices, like engineering work. 

LASKEY: Now David is your son; we were talking about David 

earlier . 

MARTIN: Yes. • 

LASKEY: And David and your nephew Christopher and your brother 

Ed, and yourself of course, now are the four main partners in 

the firm. 


MARTIN: Four partners, yes. And I believe that it's really 
a very good partnership. David and Chris get along v;ell. 
They have been given authority to take initiatives and to 
keep things whipped into shape, and since I'm at the age of 
sixty-seven at the moment and Ed is coming along, we want 
them to be in charge as early as they can take it. Because 
it's a big responsibility, both professionally and financially. 
So I think the partnership will work well. We at one time 
considered taking partners in who were not members of the 
family, and we immediately found a contest amongst our 
principal staff that was very negative, and they were all 
striving to be the principal people, when they didn't really 
have to be. We finally said, "Lookit, we are going to be a 
family-run firm, as we always have been, and we're going to 
have a very fine environment for our principal staff." We 
set a business principle many years ago that in effect said 
that 40 percent of all the profits of the firm will go to the 
employee group in the form of profit-sharing retirement trusts 
and bonuses, and we have adhered to that all through these 
years. Sometimes it's been fruitful for those that have earned 
it, and sometimes it has not been all that great. However, 
the associate group, and there's about thirty-five or forty 
associates in this firm, seems to be reasonably satisfied with 
the compensation aspect. I think the most important thing is 


the development of a strong feeling of loyalty amongst the 
members of the firm, the staff, so that they are happy with 
their pursuit of their profession. It seems to be working 
quite well now, although there have been some rough roads. 
LASKEY : I can imagine. Was there much indignation or 
apprehension when David and Christopher were brought in, 
because of their being young? 

MARTIN: David is considerably older than Chris (I think about 
six or seven years older) , and David earned his way into the, 
let's see, acceptance by the senior members of the firm by 
being a very capable designer and a very capable person, who 
is able to analyze and with firmness work with all the rest 
of them. And I made it very clear from the very earliest 
times that David would become a partner; there was never any 
question about that, so they all knew. In other words, that 
was extremely important that those that were not going to be 
partners, under the arrangement that I spoke of, recognized 
that he was going to be a partner and he would be their boss 
someday, in effect. The same thing came along with Chris. 
We made it real clear. And with that kind of positiveness 
I think it's been well accepted. 

LASKEY: You had said that you could never imagine not being 
an architect. Did David feel that way? 

MARTIN: Oh, he always was destined to be an architect; when 
he was a boy he used to build and design cars, and he still 


does, and races them. But he always was really a fine 
designer, able to create form and mechanical aspects. Chris, 
I don't know about that, but Chris is a very capable architect 
and good in settling problems on jobs, and. that will be his 
dominant role, I'm sure. 

LAS KEY : Well, with yourself and your brother, your brother 
is more--his forte is more engineering, as I understand that. 
MARTIN: Originally. He is an engineer, and as we've gone 
through time and our organization has changed, we finally as 
partners adopted a certain area of the business that each 
partner would be in charge of. Like I'm in charge today of 
client relations, which includes marketing. Ed is the 
operating manager today, and he has total responsibility for 
doing that. David is manager of professional affairs, which 
has to do with procedures and policies and so forth, and Chris 
is a project director and working on some of our most impor- 
tant projects. So as partners we have special assignments, 
and it seems to be working quite well. Now, since there's four 
of us, it's not quite so much an elbow-to-elbow relationship 
like Ed and I have had through the years, but a meeting of 
four partners periodically, and we do have substantial 

LASKEY : You said you were sixty-seven; do you see yourself 
retiring at all? 
MARTIN: Well, I can see when I've finished with the Bicentennial, 


there'll be another look at it, and I really don't want to 
completely retire, that'd be ridiculous, I believe. But I 
certainly am going to have to take it easier, because I find 
myself really exhausting all of my energies with all this 
activity. So I suspect that in another four or five months 
I'll start thinking of a reduced workload, but maintaining 
more and more client contact where I can do the most good. 
LASKEY: And then Ed would be — 

MARTIN: Ed will continue with his management, and the 
boys are coming on a fairly well defined program of picking 
up some of the management operations detail, and Ed will 
probably gravitate more to the overall financial aspects. 
We have a lot of different organizations that we have, Ed 
and I do. And agriculture, he runs a cattle ranch-- 
LASKEY: Oh, he does! 

MARTIN: Yeah, he has a big spread, he leases land; he used 
to own it. He always has about four hundred, five hundred 
head of cattle, 
LASKEY: Really. 

MARTIN: And he likes horses. So we have some property 
interests; the biggest one is the ranch at Riverside. 
That is large and very valuable, very slow and tedious type 
of development, which is under my wing, incidentally. But 
we have many properties, most of them very slow in their 
movement, valuable sure, you know, like property at Sunset 


and Beaudry [Avenue]. There are two blocks of land, they're 

worth $4 million, and people once in a while hint at paying 

us that; so one of these days we'll sell that. 

LASKEY: Sunset and Beaudry, now your original office, or one 

of your offices, for a long time was on Beaudry. Is that the 


MARTIN: Yes. Well, we really leased that to a developer, 
and right now it's leased, and he has an option to buy it. 
We had to make that move because we were so much in debt 
at the bank, and so we had to sell the property to bail out, 
really, and it did [sell]. We sold it for $1.76 million and 
bailed out of the bank, got the load off, and so we had to 
sacrifice that very fine asset. 
LASKEY: This was in 19 60? 
MARTIN: No, it was 19 74 and '5. 
LASKEY: Really I That recent. 

MARTIN: We had a large office. We bought Morganelli and 
Heumann, and lots of things really turned wrong. So there 
really is a huge demand in running a firm like this for 
working capital, just huge. Like at least $4 million in 
working capital to run this place. That is something that's 
always on our back; we can't get out of the bank, you know, 
and all the old story. My mother heard it from my father, 
and it's not much different. But we were not too discouraged. 
But it's not easy, it's a very difficult financial business to 


run a shop like this. You can operate different kinds of 
firms and do it easier. 

But when we have all the things we're doing — like 
computer development, we're one of the leaders in America in 
the development of computer sciences. As a matter of fact, 
the navy department is just about to buy our proprietary 
program that we use for drawing plans on computers for $300,000. 
Then the government will own one copy that can be used by 
government services, and we will still own the basic proprietary 
set of programs. So you can see how advanced it is. And 
those things, the decisions on how much we expand in research 
and development of the new computer sciences, are decisions 
that are costly, are large-risk; they're fun and all of that, 
but we run a pretty risky shop sometimes, the way we manage 
things. It's not like selling some product; it's the 
discovery process, it's the promotional process, paying for 
development of programs. 

LASKEY: Well, you must also develop a lot of programs or 
projects that never see the light of day, too. 
MARTIN: Yes, some of our projects-- Do you mean programs, 
or are you thinking of computer now? 

LASKEY: No, what I'm thinking of is that you design a building, 
or you design a complex, and you put all of your time and 
effort into it, and then it doesn't get built. 
MARTIN: Oh, yes, that happens every once in a while, for one 


reason or another. The corporate-financial world, I say 
corporate-financial, today moves so fast that many large 
organizations have great success and great failure, and 
papers are full of it every day. And we're no different. 
We can have wonderful luck with our buildings, and we can 
really have some failures. So it's the pace that has 
changed so considerably. And you really have to be alert 
and measure every decision. So it's all right, that's the 
nature of the thing. 

LASKEY : But it keeps you living on the edge all the time. 
MARTIN: You're always living on the edge. Of course I 
think the practice of architecture, especially, keeps you on 
the edge anyway, because keeping clients happy and making 
certain that your decisions are proper is a very difficult 
process. And bureaucracy creeps into your own organization: 
you know, people that aren't thinking and causing you damage, 
and you can't keep track of it all. It's too big. 
LASKEY: Well, when you're caught, too, I would think, 
between having an established team that you can depend upon 
and having creative input, that you don't have a team that 
becomes tired. 

MARTIN: Yeah. Well, the creative input, every building is 
kind of exciting. Sometimes the engineering systems become 
somewhat routine, somewhat. But the design, architectural 
design systems never do. That's the thing about architecture 


There's never two buildings that are alike nor two client 
relationships that are alike. And it really is a very 
interesting profession. People drift in and out of it all the 
time. And there ' re not many firms that keep the pace that 
Albert C. Martin and Associates keeps. Our pace has been fast 
for all these years. 

LASKEY: Well, your father began the firm in 1906 or 1904? 
MARTIN: [In] 1906. He came here to the coast 
in 1904, and he married my mother in 1907; but I think that 
was right after he obtained the position of principal designer 
for the Hamburger store, working for [A. E.] Rosenheim, and 
that led him to the account, the Hamburger, and then the 
May Company account, amongst others. So the firm, even 
though it's had its ups and downs, through the now seventy- 
five years, it has always been pretty active. And we've always 
had a good reputation. Once in a while we slip a little bit, 
and we really get excited and start to shape up. 
LASKEY: Is there any architectural firm in the city that 
has a comparable history? 
MARTIN: No, we're the oldest. 
LASKEY: That's what I'd think. 

MARTIN: Yeah. Now, the others don't really come close to 
us. Sure, there are some of them [which were] started after 
the V^Jorld War II, but-- Well, there's Bob Clements, whose 
father was an architect, Bob's still going; but if you look 


around there are very few firms today that didn't start until 
after the war. 

LASKEY : What do you see, since you've been so involved in 
Los Angeles and the way it looks, as the future of the city? 
MARTIN: Well, I believe that the city will densify 
considerably, and there will be a lot of multistory apartment 
complexes and condominiums in some cases. I see, hopefully, 
the development of a different type of village plan, little 
small community plans, little cells of community life, located 
in the various segments of the city, and they probably will be 
related to the centers of transportation. I think the smog 
situation will clear pretty well. 
LASKEY: How will we do that? 

MARTIN: Well, the perfection of the gasoline engine, for one, 
and then perhaps another form of power generation is on the 
horizon. There are lots of hope that there will be power 
generated from some process of atomic development wherein 
we'll have adequate power to drive various vehicles. 
LASKEY: Really. 

MARTIN: But that's out thirty, forty years. But I can't 
believe that there wouldn't be that, because the gasoline 
engine has been perfected through the last fifty years, sixty 
years, to something that's highly refined. Well, we all know 
that we're running out of fuel, and another form of fuel, 
whether solar energy or nuclear energy, is out there to have. 


And I think it will be commonplace. So driving transportation 
vehicles, of whatever nature, I think we'll be on a much 
freer basis. 

And I don't know whether we'll ever get free of gravity, 
but any development like that is going to be sensational. 
Obviously we're on the fringes of that in our space program, 
which is very exciting, to be free of gravity and drive those 
space vehicles without any pull. All sorts of things are 
happening there now, things that we don't even conceive of. 
There's no question in my mind that there will be space 
cities, bases out in space, where people will live and work 
for certain specialized work, because it's all so easy to do. 
That's really a long-range and exciting thing, and it will 
be designed probably by special architects. 

LAS KEY : I was going to say, what's the role of the architect 
in this future? 

MARTIN: Well, I think that there is a role. He's a different 
person, he will ba . But somebody has to design things, and I 
believe those that are trained in the management and design 
of space and form will be the ones. 

In the immediate future, of course, there's Los Angeles 
being the financial center of the Pacific Rim and of the West, 
and it's there now. There's a great deal of activity and 
many, many jobs and pretty good weather. And it's going to 
densify more and more and more. We'll need more transportation 


and transportation centers, whatever kind, you know, whether 
it's subways, fixed rail, modest type of helicopter. I think 
that will all happen, but it'll be different. And it'll 
still take firms like this to do it. 

LASKEY: I think that we've pretty much covered the history 
of A. C. Martin. 

LASKEY: We've talked about your father and his coming out, 
and the past and your growing up and the development of the 
firm, and the future. I wonder if you have anything that you've 
thought about that we haven't covered that you'd like to get 
on the record, that you'd like to say.- 

MARTIN: Well, I suppose that we'd have to gravitate away 
from the day-to-day happenings. As I hope I've indicated, 
I think there is really a fine development for men in this 
particular urban element and in the education of man, 
children and all of that. I firmly believe that there are 
strides being made now, especially with the integration of 
different ethnic groups into this West Coast. They're here, 
and we're conglomerate. It's not easy to bring common 
understanding of different issues of society, but that's 
what it's going to be. There will be a lot of very fine 
training of youth into the ways of society. This is exempli- 
fied in the Bicentennial very clearly, where we have made 
such an issue of the training of children and the weaving 


together of certain kinds of ethnic relationships, friendli- 
ness at least. All you have to do is look at the man on the 
street in downtown Los Angeles today and you find that they're 
of some other foreign background, practically everyone. You 
walk into the elevator lobby of this building and you may 
not see a person of, let's say. Christian background at all. 
Or white. So it's happening very fast. So therefore I do 
think we have lots of changes of government, but that every 
country does. I hope we can conserve our natural resources 
and stay industrious as a nation, especially on the West 

LASEKY: Well, you've lived in Los Angeles for sixty-seven 
years. That's a long time to live in this city particularly. 
MARTIN: Yeah. 

LASKEY: I just wondered if you would give some impressions 
off the top of your head, the things that come to your mind, 
the remembrances, or changes. 

MARTIN: I'm always impressed at how sophisticated the people 
were at the change of the century in Los Angeles; that is, 
the business leaders and the social leaders and their society. 
I'm very impressed, even though the automobile was just 
showing up on the horizon, at the cultural things that took 
place, and the architecture, the development of fixed-rail 
streetcars. Pacific Electric — those were new developments. 
The wealth that was generated by some of these pioneers. 


absolutely amazing, and there were people before that, like 
the Bannings and some of the Huntingtons and so forth, 
people that were really adventurers with great foresight. 
Great foresight. I mean, the idea of [William] Mulholland 
going up into the [Owens] Valley, up into the Sierras, and 
bringing water that distance is unbelievable, but they did 
it. So, all in all, I'm always amazed at how sophisticated 
they were in practically every aspect of social and business 
life. Sure, we have changed with communication, principally. 
I think the big change is communication, because of the TV, 
radio, and all of that, and now computers. And the war did 
so much of that. It brought forth the space program promoted 
by President [John F.] Kennedy. Really changed the nature of 
the world. So one sees all those things, and yet the substance 
of the mind of the individuals today is about the same, as I 
see it, the intelligence level, even though we have more 
resources to draw from. I'm always amazed at the advanced 
state of the society here in Los Angeles in the change of the 

LASKEY : Well, it was a very wide open city that you grew up 
in, especially in the thirties, with Aimee Semple McPherson 
and the various political organizations, like EPIC [End 
Poverty in California], and a whole different world really 
out here than it was in the eastern, middle western part of 
the United States. Do you think that influenced your 
architecture at all? 


MARTIN: I have a feeling that my period of design — where I 
was half- trained in the beaux arts and then gravitated toward 
the more contemporary design at that time, in 19 36 and '7 
when I graduated-- that in some ways that was a weak period 
of design development here. Sure, we did some good work, but 
if you think of some of the magnificent classic things that 
were done before that, and I know they were borrowed and they 
were eclectic, but there was a lot of work done in urban 
buildings, like downtown Los Angeles, that were indeed 
advanced in their own sense. And I think we lost a lot of it. 
The Depression took a lot of spark out. For one thing there 
was no money, and the war destroyed the architectural practices 
that were remaining here. It wasn't until after the war when 
the great exodus from the city and the highway syste.m came 
along and shopping centers and great residential building 
programs like Lakewood and those came along, there was a 
whole new thing developed. Architectural firms sprang up; 
the school architects were busy as can be because we were 
building so many schools, and the industrial. So in the 
fifties and sixties this place was quite vibrant, as it has 
been lately. 

LASKEY: But the shopping centers and the schools, that long, 
low layout of the shopping centers, doesn't that reflect a 
California approach? 


MARTIN: Oh, definitely. 

LASKEY : The idea of space. And even your downtown buildings, 
the buildings that you have built, the open spaces. 
MARTIN: Yes, I think the open spaces are handled with more 
delicacy than in other societies. I think we really respect 
the element of space in our design. Whether it was the low 
California bungalow and shopping-center type of spread, or 
even in the more densified urban design, like we have it 
downtown today, there's a great deal of sensitivity to space 
and its qualities. And, thank goodness, there were some 
people, you know--we talked about tree-planting the other day-- 
some of those early developers planted miles of trees out 
here, street trees. Then there was a big lull, and it 
wasn't until Cleve Bonner and I started it all over again 
that we got so many trees planted. 

LASKEY: There used to be great gardens, too, that I don't 
think exist any more, that I've read about: the [Adolphe L. 
and Eugene] Bernheimer Gardens or the Arthur Letts Gardens. 
Did you ever see any of those? 

MARTIN: No, but I knew the name of Arthur Letts so well. 
No, I never saw the gardens. I remember the mansions on 
Wilshire Boulevard extremely well, the Hancock residence, 
which is now preserved at USC and which I had the privilege 
of eating lunch there every few months. There's some of 
those historic buildings that have been retained. 


LASKEY: Wilshire Boulevard is pretty much decimated, 
unfortunately; that is, from the houses. There are only a 
couple rambling ones left. 

MARTIN: Wilshire Boulevard has been up and down, every 
segment of it has been, and it keeps coming back, and there 
will be a rejuvenation in some of those areas again. But 
I think the most important thing about the Wilshire corridor 
is the amount of living space, the density of the apartments 
along there, from Wilshire up to First Street in some cases. 
That is a very, very busy kind of an urban area, and it's 
going to have to be rejuvenated too. But I don't know, one 
could go along and reminisce a bit and perhaps look out in 
the future; we've tried to do some of that in the Bicentennial 
with actual programs. We have one at USC called "Los Angeles, 
200+20"; that may be a very interesting program. I mean, the 
s tudy . 

Well, it sure has been a pleasure, Marlene, to work 
with you through these many, many experiences; it's been a 
lot of fun. 



Abramovitz, Max, 290 
Albert, Margo, 214, 217 
Allied Architects of Los 

Angeles, 62,63 
American Institute of 

Architects (AIA) , 

161-62, 257 
Amestoy, Joseph L. , 160 
Anderson, Robert 0. , 160- 

61, 165, 168, 247 
Austin, John C, 62, 68, 

Axelson, Jack, 136 

Balloon frame construction, 

Bard, Thomas R. , 3 8 
Bauhaus, 116, 261, 268, 271 
Bayer, Herbert, 276-78 
Beaux arts style of design, 

18-19, 91-92, 117, 

119, 261, 272 
Beelman, Claude, 83, 260 
Behrendt, Olive, 217 
Bimini Baths, 32 
Bloom, John, 145 
Bonner, Cleve, 244, 247, 

Borchard family, 1-15, 36- 

-ranch, 4-3, 10-13 
Borchard, John Edward 

(grandfather) , 4 , 

Borchard, Mary Kaufman 

(grandmother), 14- 

Borchard, Will (uncle), 85 
Boyer, Lou, 130 
Bradlev, Tom, 171-73, 214- 

15, 217, 235-36, 

Brokow, Gene, 9 7 
Bunker Hill project, 144 

California Council of 

Architects, 257-58 

Carter, Edward W. , 160-61, 

Cedars-Sinai Medical 

Center, 290-91 

Chambers, B.C., 260 

City planning, 104, 207-10, 
310, See also Los 
Angeles Civic 
Center; Historic 
preservation; Los 
Angeles — present 
renovation and 
future development; 

Conservation of 

buildings. See 



Cord, E.L. , 100 

Curlett, Aleck, 260 

Dimsdale, Ben, 30 

Dockson, Robert R. , 217, 

Doheny, Edward, 70 

Dolde, Chuck (father-in- 
law), 111-12 

Dudok, Willem, 116 

Dumke, Glenn, 217 

Earthquakes. See Long 

Beach earthquake; 
Martin, Albert C. , 
and Associates — 
computer analysis 
for earthquake 
movements; Sylmar 

Energy conservation, 55, 

109, 131-32, 204-6, 

Enqstrom Apartments, 165- 
66, 183, 188 

Falkenstein, Claire, 254 
Flint, Noel, 118-19, 266 




Follis, John, 224, 225 
Frolich, Arthur, 97 

Getty, J. Paul, 

Foundation — Plans 
to preserve Los 
Angeles Central 
Library building, 
160-51, 168-69 
rt, Thomas, 40, 75, 
95, 97, 125-26 
Irving, 260 
ue , Bertram, 67 

Harry, 59 
r. Earl, 246 
,, Victor, 128, 130 

Hammer, Armand , 228 
Harrison, Wallace K., 290 
Hawkes, Benjamin, 253 
Helfeld, Edward, 165 
Historic preservation, 170, 
-El Pueblo, 170-76, 181- 

82, 189, 239 
-Engstrom Apartments, 188 
-Los Angeles Central 
Library building, 158- 
69, 183-84 
-Richfield Building, 247- 
Hitchcock, Harry, 84 
Housner, George W. , 145 
Howery, Donald, 172 
Hunt, Myron, 260 

Jennifer, Frank, 59 
Johnson, Chuck, 51, 52 

Kaufman, Gordon, 260 
Kirk, Edward, 30, 256-57 
Klokke, Karl, 264, 279 
Knudsen, Valley, 244, 245, 

Krummeck, Elsie, 128 

Larkin, Frederick G., Jr. 

(Fritz), 278 

Lathrop, Gloria, 218 
Lawler, Oscar T. (Pat), 27i 
Leonhardt, Carl, 22 

Light, Herman Charles, 97 
Lindsay, Gilbert W. , 161, 

163, 169 
Long Beach earthquake 

(1933), 102 
Longueville, Joe, 40, 76, 

95, 97 
Los Angeles 

-early 1900s, 29, 31-33, 

-Depression and war 

years, 93-95, 308-9 
-1950s, 128-30 
-present renovation 
and future development, 
140-45, 157-202, 244-46, 
249-51, 304, 305-7, 311 
Los Angeles Area Chamber of 
Commerce, 69, 246 
-and Bicentennial 

celebration, 221, 231-32 
-Martin's chairmanship 
of, 240-44 
Los Angeles Beautiful, 244- 

Los Angeles Bicentennial, 
-activities, 220-23, 

228, 232, 233 
-archives of, 226-27 
-Chamber of Commerce 
involvement, 231-32 
-city government 
suoport, 219, 220, 235- 
-composition of 

committee, 215-18 
-funding, 219-20, 221- 
22, 228, 229-31, 232, 
-North Civic Center 
plan, 170-76, 182, 234- 
35, 239 
-publications, 232 
-publicity, 223-26 
Los Angeles Central Library 
building, 158-69, 
Los Angeles Civic Center, 

64, 140-42, 156-57, 
164-68, 183-86, 250 


Los Angeles Civic Center 

Authority, 281-82 
Los Angeles Community 
Agency, 144, 165, 
169, 191, 199, 240, 
251, 283, 285 
Los Angeles Conservancy, 

167, 183 
Los Angeles — El Pueblo, 
170-76, 181-82, 
189, 239 
Los Angeles Headquarters 
City Association, 
Los Angeles North Civic 

Center plan, 170- 
76, 182, 234-235, 
Lovret, Heuben, 174-75 
Luckman, Charles, and 

Associates, 161-62, 
Macdonald, Tyler, 217 
McGrath, Joe, 15-16 
McGuire, Hugh J., 6 2 
McMillan, Don, 44, 50 
Maillart, Robert, 20 
Martin, Albert C, and 
{originally Albert 
C. Martin firm) . 
See also Martin, 
Albert Carey, Sr. ; 
Martin, Albert 
Carey, Jr.; Martin, 
Martin, David; 
Martin, John Edward 
-branches other than Los 

Angeles, 293-95 
-buildings designed by 
-Atlantic Richfield 
Tower (ARCO building), 
106-7, 116, 150, 152- 
55, 208-9, 242, 244, 
250, 253 
-Cord Building, 100-1 
-Department of Water 
and Power Building, 
107-9, 242, 253, 281 

-Desmond's Building, 

-Double Ascension 

fountain (ARCO Plaza), 

-Eastland Shopping 

Center, 132-33 
-Furnace Creek Inn, 58- 

-Grauman's Million 

Dollar Theatre, 24 
-Hamburger Building 

(May Company 

Building), 22-23, 82 
-Hellman Building, 22 
-Higgins Building, 75, 


Conception Parish, 31 
-Immaculate Heart 

College, 76 
-Lakewood Shopping 

Center, 98, 126-28, 

130, 132, 133 
-Lincoln High School, 

-Manufacturers Life 

Building, 242 
-May Company 

Crenshaw, 126-27 
-May Company X-7ilshire, 

-Saint Basil's Church 

-first building, 30, 

-second building, 30, 

-third building, 30, 
-Saint Vincent's 

Church, 70-72 
-Second Church of 

Christ Scientist, 23- 

24, 73, 117 
-Security Pacific World 
Headquarters, 106- 
7, 150, 151, 208- 
9, 242, 251, 253, 
278-79, 281 
-Union Bank Building 


General Buildinq), 
145, 148-49, 155- 
56, 203, 208-9, 
242, 250, 290 
-Ventura County 

Courthouse, 117 
-Wells Fargo Building, 
107, 155, 156, 206, 
209, 242, 250, 282-87, 
-other buildings, 26-27 
-collaboration with other 

firms, 288-91 
-computer analysis for 
earthquake movements, 
-emplovment of engineers, 

-finances, 299-302 
-history of firm, 75-76, 
84, 95-98, 113, 125-26, 
-organization and staff, 

78-81, 265, 295-99 
-relationship with 
clients, 252-54, 275-76, 
279-80, 282, 288, 291-93 
-relationship with 
contractors, 287-88 
Martin, Albert Carey, Jr. 
See also Martin, 
Albert C . , and 
influences, 115-16, 263, 
-awards, 243, 244, 248, 

-children, 138 
-development of 

Riverside ranch, 43-57 
-education, 84-85, 88-93 
-father's influence, 86- 

-leadership positions 
in community, 240-44, 
257-59; see also Los 
Angeles Bicentennial 
-marriage, 109, 110-11, 

-nhilosophy of desian, 
73-74, 104, 105-6, 'l25, 
209-13, 273-75 
-on the public and 
private sectors, 195- 
99, 235, 238- 40, 282 
-role in A.C. Martin 

and Associates, 263-64 
-and yachting, 136-39 
Martin, Albert Carey, Sr. 

(father), 9, 15-16, 
17-18, 21-28, 39- 
41, 43, 73, 84, 86, 
89, 96, 98-100, 
113, 117. See also 
Martin, Albert C. , 
and Associates 
Martin, Carolyn Elizabeth 
Borchard (mother), 
2-3, 9, 15-16, 40, 
Martin, Christopher 

(nephew), 78, 295- 
Martin, David (son), 74, 

78, 164, 169, 264, 
265, 284, 285, 295- 
Martin, Dorothy Dolde 

(wife)', 109-11, 
Martin, Joseph (uncle), 15, 

17, 21, 24, 34 
Martin, John Edward 

(brother) , 34 , 42 , 
44, 45, 74, 78, 
123-25, 190, 242, 
244, 252, 295, 298, 
Martin family, 36-37 
-children of Mary and 

John Martin, 25, 33-34 
-children of Caroline and 
Albert Martin, Sr., 34- 
35, 41-42, 84-85, 89-90, 
Marx, Samuel A., 83, 118- 

19, 266 
May, David, 83 
May, Thomas, 40, 83, 127 
Merced Theatre, 176 


Moreno, Manuel, 21B 
Morgan, Walls, and 

Clements, 28, 86, 

Morqanelli-Heumann and 

Associates, 293, 

295, 300 

Neutra, Richard, 115-16, 

Nunis, Doyce B., Jr., 2 33 

O'Brien, Fred, 84 
Olvera Street, 175-76 
O'Sullivan, Michael, 265 

Parkinson, Donald, 68, 261 
Parkinson, John, 28, 62, 

68, 86, 260-61 
Patten, Norman, 40, 75-76, 

95, 97 

r, 157, 179, 

T n -> inT 198 

Associates , -^ . 
Pico House, 175-76, 188 
Pisano, Jane, 215-16, 219, 

220, 234, 239 

Richardson, Henry H, , 13, 

19, 68, 262, 263 
Richfield Buildina, 244, 

Richter, Charles F., 145 
Rockefeller Realty 

Corporation, 284, 

285-86, 287 
Rood, Rodney W. , 217 
Rosenheim, Alfred F., 22, 

82, 303 

Schindler, Rudolph M., 115, 

Schonne, Charles, 118 
Shopping centers, 126-33 
Skidmore, Owings, and 

Merrill, 127, 128 
Smeraldi, John B., 71 


South Pa 
Sparl ing 
Stone As 

Summerf i 

Sun Worl 
Svlmar e 

California Edison 
Company Building, 
165-66, 183, 187-88 
rk plan, 251 
, Jack, 9 5 
h, Mary, 9 5 
sociates, 224 
, Louis , 68 , 116 , 
262, 263 

eld, Marvin, 110 
Growers, Inc., 47- 

d, 47-48 

arthquake ( 1971) , 
148-49, 150 

Tishman Construction 

Company, 287-38 

TransDortation systems, 
179-80, 189-95 

Twenty Mule Team Borax 

(U.S. Borax) , 51 


United States Army Corps of 
Engineers, 93, 97, 
98, 113-14 

University of Illinois, 17- 
18, 20 

Vaughey, Bill, 7 7 
Veale, Harry, 60, 71, 76 

Weatherhead, Arthur Clason, 

Webb, Del E. , 9 8 
Webb, J. Watson, 134 
Weingart, Ben, 130 
Whittlesey, Austin, 68 
Will, Arthur, Sr. , 64, 141 
Will , Arthur, Jr. , 64 
Williams, Harold M., 161 
Wilshire Boulevard, 310-11 
Wright, Frank Lloyd, 115- 

16, 261, 262, 263, 


Zabriskie, Christian B., 59 








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