Memphis Exhibition Honors Paul Revere Williams, Architect to the Stars

Midwest, West
Wednesday, October 20, 2010
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Marina del Rey Junior High School (David Horan)

Marina del Rey Junior High School (David Horan)

Love Lucy? Lucille Ball, that is. Then you’ll love her architect, too.  Opening on October 22, the Art Museum of the University of Memphis is hosting the first museum exhibition of African-American architect Paul Revere Williams whose work spans the 1920s through the 1960s.

Baird-Gaza House Entry Hall (David Horan)

Baird-Gaza House Entry Hall (David Horan)

While Paul Revere Williams is best known for his work on the west coast, his career took him across the country and the globe.  Williams designed more than 3,000 structures on four continents including the Beverly Hills Hotel, the Los Angeles Airport (LAX), the Beverly Hills Saks Fifth Avenue, and, of course, the home of Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz.

Ball-Arnaz Residence, Palm Springs, California (Julius Shulman Photographic Archive)

Ball-Arnaz Residence, Palm Springs, California (Julius Shulman Photographic Archive)

The exhibition features 200 new photographs capturing the breadth of Williams’ work arranged by decade and offers insights into the barrier-breaking life of the first African-American member of the American Institute of Architects and one of the most esteemed architects of the 20th century. From a release:

Born and reared in Los Angeles, Williams came to define the high-style look of Hollywood in the mid-1900s, and he was well known as “architect to the stars,” but he always considered himself an expert in the design of small homes. Williams was also a leader in developing new types of buildings that were demanded by the post-WWII suburban economy. His buildings contributed significantly to the popular image of 20th century Los Angeles and to the California style, but his work didn’t stop at the state line or even the national boundary. Williams was also licensed in Washington, D.C., Nevada, New York, and Tennessee, where he designed the original building for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis and a master plan for Fisk University in Nashville. He also had a busy practice in Colombia, South America, and projects in Mexico, Europe, and Africa.

A public reception will take place on the evening of October 22 at 5:00 and the exhibit runs through January 8, 2011 at the Art Museum of the University of Memphis.

Lumley Residence, 1958 (Maynard L. Parker)

Lumley Residence, 1958 (Maynard L. Parker)

Hotel Granada, Bogata, Colombia (Robert Lockwood)

Hotel Granada, Bogotá, Colombia (Robert Lockwood)

Los Angeles County Courthouse (California Historical Society)

Los Angeles County Courthouse (California Historical Society)

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