Monday, March 16, 2015

Finding Beauty in Unexpected Places - Fullerton

Pollak Library at CSU Fullerton. Photo ©Darren Bradley
Yes, Fullerton... I've lived in Southern California off and on for more than 30 years. But up until last year, I never considered Fullerton to be anything more than a place to drive through on my way to LA (despite apparently being distantly related to the city's namesake and founder, George Fullerton). Turns out I was dead wrong about the city. It's worth a stop. There's actually a lot of cool stuff in Fullerton, not least of which is the amazing campus of Cal State University, Fullerton

Breezeway of the Joseph Clark Performing Arts Center. Photo ©Darren Bradley
Isn't that sign terrible? Yes, I tried to remove this one, too, but it was zip-tied to the railing and I didn't have a knife with me. Note the bulletin board underneath which was DESIGNED for the purpose of holding notices and posters is empty and ignored, in favor of an ugly vinyl banner tied to the stair railing. Photo ©Darren Bradley
I first learned about this place thanks to my friend Steve Aldana's blog, Esoteric Survey. If you don't know this blog, go there now and be prepared to lose hours or days reading it. He's far more disciplined about writing his blog, and he posts a lot more frequently than I do. Steve is particularly adept at find interesting modernist architecture and art objects, and spends a good deal of his time roaming up and down California and Arizona in search of new stuff (and admiring old favorites). 

Another shot of the Pollak Library. Photo ©Darren Bradley

CSU Fullerton was primarily planned and designed by artist and architect Howard B. van Heuklyn, right about the same time that William Pereira was designing the University of California, Irvine. Van Heuklyn designed many buildings around Southern California and beyond in the 50s through the 80s, including academic buildings at Scripps Institute of Oceanography, UCLA, and this one, CSUF. In fact, van Heuklyn designed most of the buildings around the central core of the Fullerton campus. 

Langsdorf Hall probably looked a lot cooler before they added all that crap next to it (probably a UPS generator), and it was more stand-alone and not crowded by the building on the other end. Photo ©Darren Bradley

That would explain why there is definitely a cohesive design theme present. 

Those columns are used on several of the buildings on campus. This is the library. Photo ©Darren Bradley
Other side of Langsdorf Hall. Photo ©Darren Bradley

I read that van Heuklyn was inspired for the design by the numerous Googie-style buildings in the surrounding area. But to be honest, I don't really see Googie here in his designs. This is more classic brutalist modernism. 

Humanities and Social Sciences Building. In typical fashion, the students has completely covered all of those patterned screen blocks in ugly, sloppy posters advertising pizza parties and various events, taped haphazardly to the facade. I had to remove them all before I took this photo. Photo ©Darren Bradley

Anyway, this is not a comprehensive set of photos of the modernist buildings on the campus. There were some that required an afternoon light (I was there in the morning), and I didn't have the patience to wait there all day, and forgot to go back later. 

Titan Shops. Photo ©Darren Bradley
McCarthy Hall. Photo ©Darren Bradley

I'll have to make sure to be back in the afternoon next time to get the Titan Gym (complete with the Claire Falkenstein sculptures in the entry) and several other buildings in the right light. 

In the meantime, go to Esoteric Survey for some additional photos and info. 

For photos of another brutalist modern university campus in Orange County, go the my recent post in UC Irvine. 

I'll blog more about Fullerton's architectural treasures later, if/when I find the time. 
Last shot of the library. Photo ©Darren Bradley


Unknown said...

Boris said...

great article as always.

When I am faced with problems similar to your blue banner, e.g. red hydrant, blue mail box, trash can, I try to either desaturate them into grey, or change colors to match the surroundings until they practically blend in.


Unknown said...

Outstanding job photographing my alma mater! I always knew the architecture there was quite unique, but I could never quite capture it like you have. Kudos!
Here is my attempt:

Unknown said...

Outstanding job photographing my alma mater! I always knew the architecture there was quite unique, but I could never quite capture it like you have. Kudos!
Here is my attempt:

Anonymous said...

Good post.

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