Aerospaces: Southern California architecture in a cold war world

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Architect Albert C. Martin, Jr.'s aerospace laboratories and manufacturing complexes, along with the residential developments surrounding them, visually and symbolically defined a new industry and a new lifestyle. For about a decade, roughly 1956-66, Martin's designs for Thompson Ramo Wooldridge, the Aerospace Corporation, North American Aviation and other firms gave Los Angeles a unique industrial landscape. Aerospace modernism offers a way of reframing southern California's Cold War by viewing it through a lens of architecture and design. Martin's architecture gave material form to a regional economy, a collective imagination and an emerging political economy increasingly central to southern California. It also gave form to the conviction of his corporate clients and their Air Force patron that only the right kind of buildings - scientific, industrial and residential - could attract the kind of creative talent and inspire the kind of thinking required for state-of-the-art aerospace engineering. Paradoxically, an architecture of openness and transparency hid a world of secrecy and classification, spaces that normalized secrecy not just in the workplace but also in entire communities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)331-368
Number of pages38
JournalHistory and Technology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 1 2013


  • A.C. Martin
  • Los Angeles
  • aerospace
  • architecture
  • cold war
  • factories
  • laboratories

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • History and Philosophy of Science


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