8 Great Architectural Wonders in Los Angeles

Los Angeles is a canvas of great 20th and 21st-century architecture if you know where to look.

Los Angeles is a relatively new and sprawling city. Which means there's a big canvas for architects of many styles to put their 3D stamp on the city. Everyone from Eameses to Frank Lloyd Wright to Frank Gehry have helped make LA a brighter, better place on the eyes. For architecture buffs, and the people who love them, here are some must-see spots.

View a Google Maps list of some of the great architectural wonders in Los Angeles.

Cathedral Our Lady of the Angels
Jordan Cooper/Getty

Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels

Designed by Spanish-born Pritzker Prize-winning architect José Rafael Moneo, the post-modern Our Lady of Angeles doesn't really scream "house of worship," not to mention "cathedral." The main giveaway is the large cross built into the façade. But, in fact, the 65,000-square-foot Downtown LA cathedral – known by its acronym, COLA – is one of the biggest of its kind on the planet.

555 W. Temple St., Los Angeles

Eames House
Courtesy of Eames Foundation/Getty

Eames's Case Study House #8

Husband and wife design team, Charles and Ray Eames, designed this Pacific Palisades house in 1949 and it is one of the most aesthetically pleasing examples Mid-Century Modern architecture in Southern California. It's a private residence but Eames fans (and people who live for self-affirmative "likes" on Instagram) are allowed to gawk and photograph the exterior of the house after making a reservation via the Eames Foundation website.

203 Chautauqua Blvd., Pacific Palisades

Getty Center
Alexandre Fagundes/Getty

Getty Center

Architect Richard Meier's gleaming city on a hill took 16,000 tons of travertine marble to build but today it's a stunner, housing the Getty's main art collection and offering incredible views of Los Angeles.

1200 Getty Center Dr., Los Angeles

Stahl House

Designed by Pierre Koenig in the 1950s, the Stahl House is the greatest example of Mid-Century Modern architecture in Southern California. It has set the paradigm for what a house in the Hollywood Hills should look like: floor-to-ceiling windows, a swimming pool, the house partially on stilts overlooking West Hollywood and Downtown Los Angeles. Tours are on the pricier side – $35 to $90 depending on the time of day and number of people in your group – but totally worth it to get an inside peek at this incredible house.

1635 Woods Dr., West Hollywood

Sturges House

449 N. Skyewiay Rd., Los Angeles

Frank Lloyd Wright designed nine different structures throughout Southern California. This one, a private home located in Brentwood, is arguably his most well known. This was Wright's first turn away from the textile block buildings he'd been designing in California and toward emphasizing natural elements of the structure to blend in with the natural surroundings.

Theme building

Theme Building

One of the most iconic buildings in Southern California – also one of the first buildings many visitors see – this LAX jet-age masterpiece is part of the mid-century Googie movement in architecture and design. Completed in 1961, the building evokes a Mad Men-era vibe. Airport officials are considering bringing back the restaurant and bar in the building, so maybe soon you can, once again, you sip a dirty martini and watch the planes come and go.

201 World Way, Los Angeles

Walt Disney Concert Hall

Walt Disney Concert Hall

"Starchitect" Frank Gehry has lived in Los Angeles for decades and has his work sprinkled throughout the city. In fact, you could make a day (or two) of it just navigating LA in search of the structures he designed. This one, the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Downtown LA, is his most extravagant building in Southern California and emblematic of his later style. You need not sit through a symphony performance to get a glance at the interior. The concert hall offers free self-guided audio tours narrated by actor John Lithgow.

111 S. Grand Ave., Los Angeles

Watts Towers

Designed and constructed by Italian-born Simon Rodia over the course of three decades starting in the 1920s, the 17 towers – the tallest is 100 feet high – consist of metal and found objects such as broken glass, pottery chips, seashells, tiles, etc. Every thirty minutes up until 3pm, you can take a guided tour of the property, learning about the history of this fascinating project.

1727 E. 107th St., Los Angeles