It may not be obvious at first, but William Pereira’s buildings and urban plans are all around us.
As an international architect and urban planner with designs realized all over the world — including in the United States, Iran, Nigeria, Spain, Thailand, and Venezuela, among other international locales — Pereira shaped skylines, laid out entire cities, planned university and corporate campuses, and built cultural institutions that are enjoyed and occupied today by millions of people.
Using an architectural palette that blended the pragmatic. steel-and-glass aesthetics of Mid-20th Century Corporate Modernism with the stately stone, concrete, and plaster volumes of Brutalism, Pereira’s work exists as a reminder that architectural styles are rarely as pure or rigid as some might have us believe.
Over his nearly 60-year-long career, Pereira designed over 400 works, including the Transamerica Tower in San Francisco; the Los Angeles County Museum of Art campus in Los Angeles; the Makaha Inn Country Club Towers in Hawai’i; the Hotel Ivorie in Abidjan, Ivory Coast; Don Muang Airport in Bangkok, Thailand; Tehran International Airport in Tehran, Iran; Vacia Telega Hotel and Condominiums in Puerto Rico; Baghdad International Airport, Baghdad, Iraq, and many others.
Some of those works, including the LACMA campus, Times Mirror Square, and Metropolitan Water District projects, are currently threatened with demolition despite their potential for reuse.
A skilled businessman, Pereira often turned corporate clients into serial patrons with his office’s groundbreaking research-based approach to design and planning. Repeat clients include: Hoteliers Hilton and Sheraton, industrial and commercial giants IBM, Douglas Aircraft, Kaiser Industries, and JC Penny Company, and even, the United States Armed Forces.
Pereira was also an accomplished urban planner who laid out many settlements, including the city of Irvine in Orange County, California, and created master plans for institutional clients like the University of Southern California, the University of California, and Pepperdine University.
Pereira used Los Angeles as a home base from which to develop his far-ranging visions, and as such, California is home to many of his most accomplished projects, pragmatic and particular, alike.
The CBS Television City complex, for example, wraps a telecommunications factory with neat, functional expenses of glass and steel. His Transamerica Tower in San Francisco blazed its own trail by wrapping a concrete and glass Brutalism exterior around a distinctive tower-as-logo pyramidal design. And of course, Pereira’s library at UCSD is a crystalline glass jewel seemingly set on a raw concrete frame.
But despite this impressive record and his being featured on the cover of Time magazine in 1963, Pereira’s commercially-successful artistic contributions were often sidelined during his time, a tendency that has carried into today. Pereira — suave, coiffed, and educated as he was — was derisively referred to as “Hollywood’s idea of an architect” and as such, was unworthy of critical appraisal.
The time has come for that to change. Are you in?
The Late Group is proud to partner with Los Angeles preservation advocates Esotouric and their Pereira in Peril campaign to celebrate William Pereira’s 110th birthday on April 25, 2019.
Together, we are working to help raise awareness and show love for Pereira’s work by asking you to visit your favorite local Pereira-designed landmark (See here for Esotouric’s map here), take a selfie with the building, and share it on social media with the hashtag #PereiraForever, from April 25, 2019 (William Pereira’s 110th birthday) and all through California’s Preservation Month of May.