Learning from Orange County

Tours and talks on modernism, and more, at May’s California Preservation Conference
CA Preservation Conference
     On tour: Crystal Cathedral, Orange County
     (photo: Hager Pacific Properties)

Joe Eichler came early to Orange County, building three neighborhoods there in the early 1960s. But much of the county’s modern legacy came later, in the 1970s and 1980s.

This relatively recent work will be among the topics at the 38th annual California Preservation Conference, May 1 to 3 in Anaheim. One of the focuses will be ‘Futurama: Yesterday’s World of Tomorrow Today.’

“People have been studying mid-century modernism for 30 years now,” says Daniel Paul, who will co-lead a tour on Eichler homes and the Crystal Cathedral, a church in Garden Grove built in 1980. “Maybe it’s time to see what comes later.”

The conference, geared to preservation professionals and amateurs, historians, and the deeply interested public, will reach back to the 18th century and visit Spanish Colonial homes from the 1920s.

But much attention will be on modernism, says architect and writer Alan Hess, who will argue that “there’s a very high level of design in suburbia and in Orange County.”

“The two largest—and in my opinion, most significant—master-planned projects of the mid-20th century were built here,” he says, “Irvine and Disneyland.”

Paul hopes the conference will “get people thinking about a more recent past. There has been little discussion of the architecture of the past 40 years.”

For more on the California Preservation Conference, click here.