The Six Twelve Medical Center

William J. Fleming & James C. Coppedge • 1965 • Arcadia, CA

Sigma fp L • Canon TS-E 45mm f/2.8
323 words • 5 images
Southwest corner

High-Rise Look Comes to Arcadia. That was a headline in Dec. 27, 1964’s Los Angeles Times. “The profile of Arcadia, which has changed from a community of chicken ranchers to a city of homes and apartments in two decades, is on the threshold of high-rise building.”

Apparently the first building in Arcadia to reach eight stories was this one, the “Six Twelve Medical Center” from 1965, designed by the partnership of Fleming & Coppedge (two Oklahoma-bred architects operating out of Arcadia in the 1950s and 60s).

It’s the kind of building — hidden, as it is, behind a number of tall Canary Island pines — that’s easy to ignore from the street. But when you park your car in the expansive lot and approach it from the south, there are no trees to obfuscate what is surely one of the strangest buildings for miles around: a steel-and-glass tower surrounded on all sides by a latticework of shallow concrete patios, piers, and panels meant to block out the harsh summer sun — a design strategy that recalls most clearly Le Corbusier’s Unité d’Habitation in Marseilles, though I keep wondering: is it really possible that this unassuming medical office building in Arcadia was inspired by Le Corbusier’s proto-brutalist masterpiece?

Western elevation

I’ve just flipped through my copy of Aladar Olgyay & Victor Olgyay’s 1957 Solar Control and Shading Devices to look for buildings that might have inspired this one, but none quite fits the bill like Corbusier’s Unité. Not that this building is as nice as that one; no exterior color to speak of here.

And what are the shallow patios about? My daughter got a vaccine here once on one of the upper floors; the exam room was on the outside of the building: vertical blinds over floor-to-ceiling glass, and then that shallow concrete patio outside, which almost seemed like something meant for you to go out and enjoy the breeze on, except it clearly wasn’t.

Northwest corner
Southeast corner

Originally posted: 2024-05-22