Bayer, Herbert [Designer] and David Gebhard: THE RICHFIELD BUILDING, 1928-1968. Los Angeles: Atlantic Richfield Company, [1970].

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THE RICHFIELD BUILDING, 1928-1968

David Gebhard, Herbert Bayer [Designer]

David Gebhard, Herbert Bayer [Designer]: THE RICHFIELD BUILDING, 1928-1968. Los Angeles: Atlantic Richfield Company, [1970]. First edition. Slim square quarto. Photo illustrated thick perfect bound wrappers. Publishers cloth slipcase. Black endpapers. 28 pp. Color black and white photography. Designed by Herbert Bayer. Architectural historians’ bookplate to front endpaper. Yellow cloth slipcase lightly fingered and thumb indention to fore edge, but a fine example in a very good or better example of the Publishers slipcase.

11 x 11 softcover homage to the Atlantic Richfield building at 555 South Flower Streets in downtown Los Angeles (1929 to 1969), 28 pages fully illustrated in color and black and white and beautifully designed by Herbert Bayer, the image consultant for Atlantic Richfield since 1946.

For years the Richfield Building dominated the downtown Los Angeles skyline, an art-deco neon-topped masterpiece that is still considered one of the city’s most beloved buildings. But in 1969, the new downtown — with its modern high-rises — meant the end for the Richfield Building. It was torn down to make way for the Arco twin towers.

The central figures of the Tympanum (Navigation, Aviation, Postal Service and Industry) over the main entry were donated by the Atlantic Richfield Company to the UC Santa Barbara Art & Design Museum, negotiated by Professor David Gebhard, noted UCSB architectural historian. He published a small volume on the building before demolition, which is richly illustrated: The Richfield Building 1928-1968. Atlantic Richfield Co., Santa Barbara, 1970. After languishing in university storage for well over a decade, they were mounted outside the UCSB Student Health Center in 1982, where three of the four remain today. The fourth figure was incomplete and remains in storage.

Richfield Tower, also known as the Richfield Oil Company Building, was constructed between 1928 and 1929 and served as the headquarters of Richfield Oil. It was designed by Stiles O. Clements and featured a black and gold Art Deco façade. The unusual color scheme was meant to symbolize the "black gold" that was Richfield's business. Haig Patigian did the exterior sculptures. The building was covered with architectural terra cotta manufactured by Gladding, McBean along with many west coast buildings from this era. In an unusual move, all four sides were covered since they were all visible in the downtown location.

The 12-floor building was 372 feet (113 m) tall, including a 130-foot (40 m) tower atop the building, emblazoned vertically with the name "Richfield". Lighting on the tower was made to simulate an oilwell gusher and the motif was reused at some Richfield service stations.

The company outgrew the building, and it was demolished in 1969, much to the dismay of Los Angeles residents and those interested in architectural preservation, to make way for the present ARCO Plaza skyscraper complex. The elaborate black-and-gold elevator doors were salvaged from the building and now reside in the lobby of the new ARCO building (now City National Tower). [Wikipedia]

Of all the artists to pass through the Bauhaus, none lived the Bauhaus ideal of total integration of the arts into life like Herbert Bayer (1900 - 1985). He was a graphic designer, typographer, photographer, painter, environmental designer, sculptor and exhibition designer. He entered the Bauhaus in 1921 and was greatly influenced by Kandinsky, Moholy-Nagy and El Lissitzky. He left in 1923, but returned in 1925 to become a master in the school. During his tenure as a Bauhaus master he produced many designs that became standards of a Bauhaus "style." Bayer was instrumental in moving the Bauhaus to purely sans serif usage in all its work. In 1928 he left the Bauhaus to work in Berlin. He primarily worked as a designer and art director for the Dorland Agency, an international firm. During his years at Dorland a Bayer style was established. Bayer emigrated to the United States in 1938 and set up practice in New York. His US design included work for NW Ayers, consultant art director for J. Walter Thompson and design work for GE. From 1946 on he worked exclusively for Container Corporation of America (CCA) and the Atlantic Richfield Corporation. In 1946 he moved to Aspen to become design consultant to CCA. In 1956 he became chairman of the department of design, a position he held until 1965. He was awarded the AIGA medal in 1970. Bayer's late work included work for ARCO and many personal projects including several environmental designs.

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