According to the National Register nomination for the First Church of Christ Scientist, the building derives its significance from both its distinctive Neoclassical Revival architectural style and its status as the work of a master, renowned architect Paul Revere Williams, widely recognized as the most important African American architect of the 20th century. The life and work of Williams has been the focus of heightened attention in the past few years, further demonstrating the need to rehabilitate this treasured building responsibly.
Williams designed more than 2,000 private homes, many for wealthy business people and Hollywood stars. He was part of the LAX planning and design team. Yet he also designed affordable homes, public housing, and a host of civic, commercial, and institutional buildings. He was well regarded for his mastery of various architectural styles. Modern interpretations of Tudor-revival, French Chateau, Regency, French Country, and Mediterranean architecture were all within his vernacular. Here are just some of the recent national developments recognizing Williams’ legacy.
AIA 2017 Gold Medal
The Board of Directors of the American Institute of Architects (AIA) voted to posthumously award the 2017 AIA Gold Medal to Paul Revere Williams, FAIA, whose portfolio of nearly 3,000 buildings during his five-decade career was marked with a number of broken barriers. These included being the first black architect ever admitted as a member of the AIA. The Gold Medal honors an individual whose significant body of work has had a lasting influence on the theory and practice of architecture.
Regarding Paul Revere Williams: A Photographer’s View (Angel City Press, 2020)
Janna Ireland, an award-winning photographer, explores the work and legacy of Williams through a series of stunning, intimate black-and-white photographs of his designs.
Hollywood’s Architect: The Paul Revere Williams Story (PBS SoCal and RKR Media, LLC, 2020)
This hour-long documentary, released in 2020, chronicles Williams's storied life as well as his prolific career spanning over five decades. It can be streamed online. Visit https://hollywoodsarchitect.org/.
Paul Revere Williams Archive
In June 2020, the Paul Revere Williams archive was jointly acquired by the Getty Research Institute and the USC School of Architecture, both in Los Angeles. Documenting the entirety of Williams' career, from his early residential commissions during Los Angeles' housing boom of the 1920s to landmark mid-century civic structures, the archive includes approximately 35,000 plans, 10,000 original drawings, blueprints and project diazotypes, hand-colored renderings, vintage photographs, correspondence, and other materials.