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Franklin D. Israel: A Life in Architecture

Available January 2025

Todd Gannon

This book examines the life and legacy of Franklin D. Israel, an influential member of the Los Angeles school of architects.

Acclaimed Los Angeles architect Franklin D. Israel (1945–1996) created innovative residential projects and office interiors that made him one of the most talked-about designers of his generation. In this vivid account, architectural historian Todd Gannon draws on archival resources, analyses of Israel’s buildings, and recent interviews with the architect’s colleagues, clients, and contemporaries, including Frank Gehry, Thom Mayne, and Robert A. M. Stern. Gannon traces Israel’s development from his early years and career on the East Coast to his formative world travels and residence at the American Academy in Rome. The author guides readers through the Los Angeles architectural context, Israel’s influential teaching at UCLA, his dalliance with Hollywood, and the personal motivations behind his architecture and design work—all aspects of an influential career that was cut short by his death from AIDS-related complications at the age of fifty.

Franklin D. Israel is a compelling work of architectural history and biography, chronicling one gay man’s engagement with the largely heteronormative world of American architectural culture. It explores the achievement of this central figure in the still largely unstudied history of late twentieth-century avant-garde Los Angeles architecture.

Todd Gannon is professor of architecture at Ohio State University's Knowlton School and the author of Reyner Banham and the Paradoxes of High Tech (Getty, 2017).

“This study is a necessity for students and scholars to understand the idiosyncrasies of Los Angeles architecture. Gannon sensitively articulates the mark that Frank Israel left on the identity of this complex, every-changing city.”
—Thom Mayne

“Weaving together the creative and personal histories of one of all too many architects felled by HIV/AIDS, Gannon’s engaging study reveals that the deliberate heterogeneity of Frank Israel’s architectural palette and the broad reach of his ideas made his work a centripetal force that turned Los Angeles into a global architectural capital.” 
—Sylvia Lavin, Professor of History and Theory of Architecture, Princeton University

256 pages 
9 1/2 x 10 inches
182 color and 55 b/w illustrations 
ISBN 978-1-60606-926-4

Getty Publications
Imprint: Getty Research Institute