Walter Charles Wurdeman, Architect and Professor

Pacific Coast Architecture Database

Wurdeman, Walter ID: 415
Full Name: Walter Charles Wurdeman
Nationality: US
Birth Date: 08/02/1903
Death Date: 09/17/1949
Family: Walter C. Wurdeman was born in Wisconsin and died in Los Angeles County, CA, at the age of 46; his mother’s maiden name was Reitz; his father’s name was spelled Wuerdemann;
Biographical Information:
Work History: work: Principal, Walter C. Wurdeman, Architect, Seattle, WA, 1931-1932;
Countries: United States
Structures: Armstrong, M. Burton House – c. 1947 (671)
Buffums Department Store, Santa Ana, CA – None (2355)
Bullock’s Department Store, Pasadena, CA – 1947 (672)
General Petroleum Building, Los Angeles – 1947 (568)
House of Tomorrow – 1946 (670)
Innes Company Shoe Store – c. 1946 (698)
Jai Alai Auditorium – 1940 (661)
Los Angeles Home Show House for Kaiser Homes, Incorporated – (660)
Pan-Pacific Auditorium, Los Angeles, CA – (666)
Prudential Square Building, Los Angeles – 1948 (673)
Pueblo del Rio Public Housing, Vernon, CA – 1940-1941 (3840)
Salvatori, Henry House – 1941 (662)
San Fernando Valley Country Club, Woodland Hills, Los Angeles, CA – 1945 (665)
Tilford’s Restaurant, Los Angeles – 1946 (7232)
University of California, Los Angeles Campus – 1948-1968 (674)
Wurdeman, Arthur, House, Brentwood, Los Angeles, CA – (5172)
Wurdeman, Walter, House, Brentwood, Los Angeles, CA – (663)
Partners: Becket, Welton D. and Associates (29)
Bodmer, Wurdeman and Becket, Architects (3709)
Plummer, Wurdeman, and Becket, Architects (163)
Southeast Housing Architects, Associated (3812)
Wurdeman and Becket, Architects (162)
Wurdeman, Walter C., Architect (1914)
Publications: “Armstrong, M. Burton House”, Architectural Digest, 11: 3, 6-10,
“Fritz Burns’500 new houses feature plank and beam construction and convertible two-car garages, sell for $8,250”, Architectural Forum, 91: 5, 84-85?, 114, 116, 11/1949.
“Etchwood Paneling Advertisement, Davidson Plywood and Lumber Company”, Architectural Forum, 91: 5, 146, 11/1949.
“Three Shoe Stores: Open front store in Los Angeles”, Architectural Forum, 91: 6, 92-93, 12/1949.
Better Homes and Gardens,
“Southern California Chapter’s Honor Awards”, Journal of the American Institute of Architects, 7: 2, 74-79, 02/1947.
“Southern California Chapter’s Honor Awards”, Journal of the American Institute of Architects, 7: 2, 77, 02/1947.
Gebhard, David, Winter, Robert, Los Angeles An Architectural Guide, 115, 1994.
Gebhard, David, Winter, Robert, Los Angeles An Architectural Guide, 188, 1994.
Gebhard, David, Winter, Robert, Los Angeles An Architectural Guide, 193, 1994.
Cole, Benjamin Mark, “Pan Pacific will be restored to former glory”, Los Angeles Herald Examiner, 15, 01/18/1985.
“Salvatori, Henry House Notice”, Southwest Builder & Contractor, 24, col. 3, 7/25/1921.
Southwest Builder & Contractor, 56, 1/28/1949.
“Pueblo del Rio Housing Project plans”, Southwest Builder & Contractor, 96, col 2, 7/5/1940.
“Wurdeman, Walter, House notice”, Southwest Builder & Contractor, 28, col 1, 10/24/1941.
“Wurdeman, Arthur, House notice”, Southwest Builder & Contractor, 28, col 1, 10/24/1941.
Websites: General Petroleum Building, Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles, 1951 (1696)

Finding Aid for the Elliot Mittler Collection of Welton Becket and Associates Photograph Archives, 1940-1979

Welton Davis Becket was born in Seattle, Washington, on August 8, 1902; BA, Architecture, University of Washington, (1927), with one year of graduate study at the Ecole des Beaux Arts, Fontainebleau, France, (1928); partnered with Walter previous hit Wurdeman next hit and Charles Plummer under the name Becket, previous hit Wurdeman next hit , and Plummer in 1933; following Plummer’s death in 1939 and previous hit Wurdeman’s next hit death in 1949, Becket continued the firm as Welton Becket and Associates, serving as President (1949-68) and Chairman of the Board (1968) until his death in 1969; served as Master Planner and Supervising Architect, UCLA, 1949-69; Becket’s philosophy of total design, embracing all requirements demanded of architectural design, became integral to the firm; the firm’s designs are not identified with a particular style, but are individual to each client; the firm was one of the largest firms in Los Angeles with building credits throughout the world, including: Pan Pacific Auditorium (with previous hit Wurdeman , 1934), Beverly Hilton Hotel (1955), Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, Los Angeles Music Center (1964), Gulf Life Tower, Florida (1967), Xerox Square, New York (1968), several Bullock’s Department Stores in California (1951-77), and various UCLA campus structures (1958-70); after Becket’s death, the firm continued under the same name, directed by his nephew, MacDonald Becket; around 1985, the firm was acquired by Ellerbe Incorporated to become Ellerbe Becket.

Scope and Content
Collection consists of photographs related to the work of the Welton Becket & Associates architectural firm. Most of the photographs represent projects in and around the Los Angeles area. Includes examples of both residential and commercial buildings with interior and exterior views. Architectural photographers whose works are represented in this collection are: Glen Allison, Orlando R. Cabanban, Fred S. Carr, Louis Checkman, Robert C. Cleveland, Gerbert Bruce Cross, Fred Daly, Philip Fein, Eddie Hoff, Richard K. Koch, Balthazar Korab, Nathaniel Lieberman, Joseph W. Moliter, Rondal Partridge, Marvin Rand, Gerald Ratto, Otto Rothschild, Ben Schnall, Gordon H. Schneck, Julius Shulman, Douglas Simmonds, Delmar Watson, Todd A. Watts, and Dick Wittington.

Interview with Paul Thiry
Conducted by Meredith Clausen
At the Artist’s home
September 15 & 16, 1983

“MEREDITH CLAUSEN: Who were your professors at the time?

PAUL THIRY: Carl Gould of course was the head, and he was also architect for the campus, and of course he had good training. He was a Beaux Arts man from Paris, and he’d gone to Harvard and no one could question his qualifications. And I will say that he was modern in the sense that he fostered the idea of prefabrication, and actually he’d built a house for himself on Bainbridge Island that was an assembly of doors; I might say that he bought the doors and then built the house on top of the doors. (laughter) And then too he made ventures into modern, it was kind of modernistic, somewhat of basis for change in architecture. But this didn’t get into our training in school.

Finally in 1927, there were three others and myself who [went to] Fontainebleau. The previous year, Walter Wurdeman, who later became a partner with Welton Becket– who also went to Fontainebleau with me; he preceded us in school and he came back with great reports on how he enjoyed it and how much he learned. And it’s true, we learned a great deal. At Fontainebleau we had illustrious professors and…”

MEREDITH CLAUSEN: Now was Paris and the Atelier Gromort in between Fontainebleau and Italy?

PAUL THIRY: That was right after Fontainebleau, you see, and I stayed in France, oh, it was two or three weeks. Becket and Wurdeman had gone ahead, and I met them in Rome.

The General Petroleum Building, also known as the Mobil Oil Building and the Pegasus Apartments, is a highrise building in Downtown Los Angeles that was built in 1949. It was designed by Wurdeman and Becket and P.J. Walker in the Moderne style. The building was later converted into apartments operated under the name Pegasus. In 2004, the building was added to the National Register of Historic Places based on architectural criteria.

General Petroleum Building - Mobil - Pegasus Apartments

General Petroleum Building – Mobil – Pegasus Apartments

(from Wikipedia)
Walter Wurdeman ( ? – 1949) was a leading architect who, with his partner Welton Becket, designed many notable buildings in Los Angeles, California.

Wurdeman graduated from the University of Washington program in Architecture in 1927 with a Bachelor of Architecture degree (B.Arch.). After graduation he apprenticed with the Seattle firm Bebb and Gould and participated in design of the Seattle Art Museum (now Seattle Asian Art Museum) in Seattle’s Volunteer Park.

Seattle Art Museum designed by Walter Wurdeman

Further commentary on the Carly Frelinghuysen Wikipedia entry about the Seattle Art Museum gives credit to Walter Wurdeman and also cites him as being an influence in the Art Deco style:

“By the 1930s, Bebb’s role in Bebb and Gould declined and the firm’s work began to reflect the emergence of Art Deco. This new direction was reflected in the design for the Seattle Art Museum building (1931-1933); now the Seattle Asian Art Museum) in Volunteer Park. (The design of the front elevation reflects the influence of draftsman Walter Wurdeman who had joined Bebb and Gould after graduating from the University of Washington.) ”

Wurdeman had moved to Los Angeles by 1933 and formed a partnership with his University of Washington classmate Welton Becket and local architect Charles F. Plummer. The Moderne Pan-Pacific Auditorium, dating from 1935, brought them local fame.





Subsequent commissions included residences for James Cagney, Robert Montgomery, and other film celebrities.

After Plummer died in 1939, the surviving partners renamed the firm Wurdeman and Becket. The firm was responsible for Bullock’s Pasadena (1944) and several corporate headquarters. Wurdeman and Becket practiced “total design”, taking responsibility for master planning, engineering, interiors, fixtures and furnishings, landscape, and graphics.

After Wurdeman’s death in 1949, Becket carried on the practice alone as Welton Becket Associates.

2 comments to Walter Charles Wurdeman, Architect and Professor

  • Wurdeman

    There was previously a comment here which was an article published by Lindsay William-Ross on the LAist. She wrote complaining that I had used her copyrighted material without so much as a credit. She apparently didn’t see her full name and credit at the beginning of the article. She then said I hadn’t given her a link. I went back and reviewed her article. Not surprisingly it contains graphics and photographs that are other people’s copyright. In some cases she provided a link to a page where you could look for the photographer’s name or who the copyright holder was, but in some cases, she didn’t even provide a link.

    When she tells you she found an image on Google, so Google gets credit, she doesn’t tell you the photographer who is listed and that the picture is copyright Time/LIFE.

    If Ms. Lindsay was so concerned about copyrights and proper source information, then why did she do such a poor job herself?

    As I wrote her, those in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones, and that applies to you Ms. Lindsay.

    Hope you are happy now!

  • […] from which one viewed the Richfield Oil Building. The exterior of Sunny Dunes was obviously not the Pegasus Apartments so perhaps it was at the Mobile Oil Building where the extra floor was built for the office, while […]

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