“The success of a culture is measured by history in terms of the civilization’s architectural and artistic achievement.”
Ladd & Kelsey, Architects, letter to newly elected President Nixon
Operational from 1959 to 1982, Ladd & Kelsey, Architects’ lack of inclusion in today’s architectural discourse and popular media is in striking contrast to their accomplished body of work that has left a lasting impact on California Modernism and the USC Style. Ladd & Kelsey, Architects created a body of work more elegant in style and formal in rigor than what was culturally popular at midcentury: the post and beam style and Case Study House Program by Arts & Architecture magazine.
From their time as fellow students at USC, Ladd & Kelsey shared a strong and similar design language that unified them as partners and enabled a complimentary balance of each individual’s different and unique strengths – a balance that would last a quarter century. Thornton Ladd brought to the table strong conceptual and romantic composition skills, while John Kelsey’s deep talent in form, volume and light, as well as business acumen allowed the firm to grow.
Based in Pasadena, California, Ladd & Kelsey won high-profile commissions early on, assisted, in part, by Ladd’s family connections. Yet, the partnership’s creative vision and execution skills earned the practice a thriving client roster of influential businesses, institutions, and individuals, building a general practice with a project list ranging from museums, banks, hospitals, academic buildings, single family homes, housing developments, houses of worship, shopping malls, and gardens.
The exhibition presents period photographs of Ladd & Kelsey projects taken by Julius Shulman, Ezra Stoller, and Wayne Thom, as well as ephemera such as vintage design magazines and movie posters for films featuring the architects’ visually striking work.