William eonard Pereira's signature dated June 22, 1946, indicating his address as 519 N. Crescent Dr. Beverly Hills, CA

One of the interesting names in Joseff's guest book is William Leonard Pereira; He signed June 22, 1946 during his brief stint as a Hollywood Art Director, but is much better known as an influential architect of "futuristic" design. 


Born in Chicago April 25, 1909, Pereira was a remarkable prolific architect, working mostly out of Los Angeles, California. He attended the School of Architecture, University of Illinois and began his career in his home city. He had some of his earliest architectural experience helping to draft the master plan for the 1933 "A Century of Progress" Chicago World's Fair. With his brother, Hal Pereira, he designed the Esquire Theater at 58 East Oak Street, considered one of Chicago's best examples of Streamline Moderne style.

The Pereira brothers moved to Los Angeles in the 1930's. After working as a solo architect on several projects, William Pereira was hired by the Motion Picture Relief Fund and designed the first buildings for the Motion Picture Country House in Woodland Hills, California, which was dedicated September 27, 1942.

Pereira's artistry and social circle steered him toward a short career as a Hollywood art director. He shared an Academy Award for Best Special Effects for the action/adventure film "Reap the Wild Wind" (1942). He was the art director for "This Gun for Hire", Alan Ladd's first film. He was production designer of the drama "Jane Eyre" (1943), and of the war drama "Since You Went Away" (1944). Pereira was also the producer of the noir crime/drama "Johnny Angel" (1945), and of the Joan Fontaine drama From "This Day Forward" (1946).

Though his buildings were often quite stark and sterile in their appearance (owing largely to the science fiction of the era), they were noted for their functional style and particular flair. He took pride in the concept of designing for the future. A great deal of Pereira's "futurist" style is owed to his longtime design collaborator James Langenheim, who had created the initial design for the Theme Building at LAX. 

In 1949, Pereira began working as a professor of architecture at the University of Southern California and soon after formed a partnership with fellow architect and classmate, Charles Luckman. The firm, Pereira & Luckman, grew into one of the nation's busiest; the duo designed some of Los Angeles's most well-known buildings, including the famed Theme Building at Los Angeles International Airport (in collaboration with Paul Williamsand Welton Becket). They dissolved their partnership in 1958, and Pereira established William L. Pereira & Associates, based in Los Angeles.

In the late 1950s, the firm created a master plan for the Santa Fe Springs Civic Center, which features single-story concrete buildings, paved plazas and walkways, allées, and lush plantings. Pereira was commissioned to design the University of California, Irvine, campus and create a master plan for the surrounding community in 1960. He worked with Robert Herrick Carter, C. Jacques Hahn, J. Charles Hoffman, and Frederick Lang to design the campus’ landscape.

Many of Pereira’s buildings were designed in conjunctioin with water features, some buildings being almost entirely surrounded by water. The firm designed a complex of three Modernist buildings for the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, for which Robert Herrick Carter designed the “interiorscape.” Interconnected by a series of causeways and bridges, the buildings rise up out of a lake to surround a plaza.

By the time of his death in November, 1985, Pereira had over 400 projects to his name. Among the structures he designed throughout southern California were CBS Television City, the Los Angeles County Art Museum, the Howard Johnson Hotel and Water Playground in Anaheim, and the Disneyland Hotel in Anaheim. He is also responsible for creating the monumental Spanish-inspired facades that defined Robinson's department stores for nearly 20 years, and he was the architect of Pepperdine University at Malibu, named by the Princeton Review as the most beautiful college campus in America. He will be remembered for his unmistakable style of architecture, which helped define the look of mid-20th century America.