Featured Architect: Welton Becket
Welton David Becket (8 August 1902 - 16 January 1969) was a Los Angeles-based architect who designed many notable public, governmental, and commercial buildings, including notable retail outlets in Palm Springs.
Becket was born in Seattle, Washington and graduated from the University of Washington program in Architecture in 1927 with a Bachelor of Architecture degree. He moved to Los Angeles in 1933, and formed a partnership with his University of Washington classmate Walter Wurdeman and Los Angeles architect Charles F. Plummer. Their first major commission was the Pan-Pacific Auditorium in 1935, which won them residential jobs from James Cagney, Robert Montgomery, and other film celebrities. Plummer died in 1939.
The successor firm Wurdeman and Becket went on to design Bullock's Pasadena (1944) and a couple of corporate headquarters. Wurdeman and Becket developed the concept of "total design," whereby their firm would be responsible for master planning, engineering, interiors, furniture, fixtures, landscaping, signage, and even (in the case of restaurants) menus, silverware, matchbooks, and napkins.
After Wurdeman's death in 1949, Becket formed Welton Becket and Associates and continued to grow the firm to the extent that it was one of the largest architectural offices in the world by the time of his death in 1969. In 1987, his firm was acquired by Ellerbe Associates, and the merged firm continued as Ellerbe Becket until the end of 2009, when it was acquired by AECOM. It is now known as Ellerbe Becket, an AECOM Company.
Becket's buildings used unusual facade materials such as ceramic tile and stainless steel grillwork, repetitive geometric patterns, and a heavy emphasis on walls clad in natural stone, particularly travertine and flagstone.
With The Walt Disney Company and the United States Steel Corporation, Becket's firm co-designed Disney's Contemporary Resort, which opened in 1971 at Walt Disney World. The Contemporary was designed as a 14-story steel A-frame with a monorail running through the building. Modular guest rooms were assembled, finished, furnished, fully equipped and their doors locked, on the ground, then lifted by crane and inserted into the frame. This sometimes took multiple tries.
Welton Becket was elected a Fellow of the American Institute of Architects in 1952.
Becket's sons, Welton MacDonald Becket and Bruce David Becket, are also practicing architects.
A partial list of Welton Becket's extensive list of credits includes:
Pan-Pacific Auditorium, Los Angeles, California 1935 (with Walter Wurdeman)
General Petroleum Building, Los Angeles, California 1949 (with Walter Wurdeman)
Beverly Hilton Hotel, Beverly Hills, California 1953
UCLA Medical Center, Los Angeles, California 1953
Parker Center (formerly the Police Administration Building), Los Angeles, California 1955
Capitol Records Building, Los Angeles, California 1956
Santa Monica Civic Auditorium, Santa Monica, California 1958
Sheraton Dallas Hotel (formerly Adams Mark Dallas and Southland Center), Dallas, Texas 1959
100 California Street, San Francisco, California 1960
Kaiser Center, Oakland, California 1960
Christown Mall, Phoenix Arizona, 1961
Walt Whitman Shops, Huntington Station, New York, 1962
U.S. Embassy, Warsaw, Poland, 1963
Cinerama Dome, Los Angeles, California 1963
Century City (masterplan), Los Angeles, California 1963
Gateway West Building, Century City, Los Angeles, California 1963
Hartford National Bank, Hartford, Connecticut 1963
McCarran International Airport, Las Vegas, Nevada 1963
Phillips Petroleum Building, Bartlesville, Oklahoma 1964
Federal Building, Los Angeles, California 1964
Los Angeles Music Center (Performing Arts Center of Los Angeles County), 1964
General Electric Pavilion (destroyed), New York City, 1964
Pauley Pavilion at UCLA (Edwin W. Pauley Pavilion), Los Angeles, California 1965
Gulf Life Tower (now known as the Riverplace Tower), Jacksonville, Florida, 1967
Xerox Tower, Rochester, New York, 1967
City Hall, Pomona, California 1969
Equitable Life Building, Los Angeles, 1969
800 Wilshire, Los Angeles, 1970
PNC Plaza (formerly the Citizens Fidelity Plaza), Louisville, Kentucky 1971
Disney's Contemporary Resort, Lake Buena Vista, Florida 1971
Worcester Center, Worcester, Massachusetts, 1971
Chase Tower (formerly the Bank One Center and Valley Bank Center), Phoenix, Arizona 1972
Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum, East Garden City, New York, 1972
Regions Center (formerly the AmSouth Center, AmSouth-Sonat Tower, and First National-Southern National Building), Birmingham, Alabama 1972
Glendale Central Library, Glendale, California 1973
100 Summer Street, Boston, Massachusetts 1974
Reunion Tower, Dallas, Texas 1978
One Market Plaza, San Francisco, 1972
Orange Civic Center, Orange, California 1963
Park Plaza Mall (now City Center), Oshkosh, Wisconsion, 1970
Interiors of the new Los Angeles International Airport, 1962