Thursday, May 30, 2024

Tour the oil islands, step inside historical homes, and more: Long Beach Architecture Week 2024 arrives

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From celebrating the 100th birthday of Downtown Long Beach’s historic Cooper Arms building to having a tour of the T.H.U.M.S. Islands, Long Beach Architecture Week is taking 2024 by the foundation with a slew of events for everyone’s inner lover of architecture, spatial history, and Long Beach appreciation.

Long Beach Architecture Week 2024 runs May 29 through June 9—here are some cool details about it.

Wait—we can head out on a boat to those islands during Long Beach Architecture Week 2024?

Many locals often like to imagine that the decorated oil digging islands which dot the coast of Long Beach are not really oil digging destroyers of the earth while visitors, out of pure naïveté, assume they are resorts, especially when the fake waterfalls kick on.

The story behind their development is also one of both myth and truth—and yes, a Disneyland designer is behind part of the tale.

This is but one of the aspects explores in Long Beach Architecture Week’s tour of the islands and also a reason why it is consistently and quickly sold out each year: CSULB Assistant Professor of Art Brian Trimble (who also heads the organization of Long Beach Architecture Week) and the staff from the City of Long Beach’s Energy Resources Department head a boat tour that discusses design of T.H.U.M.S. Islands. And no, you don’t actually go onto the islands but explore their perimeters.

The tour’s talk begins at the architecture firm Studio One Eleven followed by the boat trip. For tickets, click here.

So what is Long Beach Architecture Week all about? Community and architecture

“We’re excited about this year’s program and our collaborations with community partners like Long Beach Heritage and the Historical Society of Long Beach,” Trimble, Long Beach Architecture Week’s founder and leading organizer, said. “There are so many great opportunities for our community and visitors to see spaces that are rarely accessible.”

Take, for example, the celebration of the 100th birthday of the historic Cooper Arms building in Downtown Long Beach: The twelve-story Renaissance Revival apartment tower was built in 1923 and was one of the first structures to be designated a Long Beach historical landmark when the city launched its historic preservation program in 1980. Eventually, it made its way into the National Register of Historic Places in 2000.

“We get to step inside the Cooper Arm building and throw a fantastic period themed party,” Trimble said. “Honestly, how cool is that? Even more, as I’ve always said, Long Beach Architecture Week isn’t just about architecture—it’s about community and love for our city and community.”

The list of events attached to historic and older spaces is impressive: from walking tours of the Civic Center and Scottish Rite Theatre to exploring excellent examples of Craftsman, Spanish Colonial Revival, Tudor Revival, and Mid-Century Modern homes, this year’s Long Beach Architecture Week is an exemplary one at that.

The importance of celebrating Long Beach’s history and future within Long Beach Architecture Week

Architecture, after all, is more poignant today than ever for Long Beach, as the past decade has seen its largest physical transformation in our history—something not to be taken lightly or to ignore in terms of our history and our future.

The skyline has changed: The Shoreline Gateway towers as our tallest building while ONNI East Village stands tall at 3rd Street and Long Beach Boulevard—and will continue to change: a 21-story building taking over the former Long Beach Cafe spot has been approved, the 30-story Alexan East End tower has scored capital to begin breaking ground, and the 31-story Hard Rock Hotel is going to actually become a reality.

There have been more buildings erected in the last five years than the previous twenty with plenty in the pipeline: Downtown Long Beach have seen two smaller residential projects—the Inkwell on the Promenade and the Aster on Broadway—while another at 3rd and Pacific continues to build up and Mosaic sold their entitled residential project. Wrigley is getting a six-story senior housing development. Pacific Coast Highway’s southern entry into Long Beach will look vastly different within the next ten years with its multitude of developments. One of the first hotels on the sand to be built in California in decades has broken ground


Long Beach Architecture Week is more than just a celebration of local architecture; it is a set of tours, walks, talks, and social gatherings that continually uplifts the city as the architectural gem it always has been.


Historic or older buildings have seen outright demolition—like the Country Courthouse building or the former City Hall—while others have seen massive renovations or restorations—the soon-to-open Breakers hotel.

Even public projects are grand enough in scale it entirely alter built environment: Whether it’s the now-complete Lincoln Park in Downtown Long Beach or now-under-construction altering of the Colorado Lagoon or the soon-to-be-under-construction Shoemaker Bridge. We’re even getting a roller rink on the beach.

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“Long Beach has a long and fascinating history around the build environment,” Trimble told me last year and in words that echo this year. “We want to explore that history and it’s impact on our community today. We see the future of architecture week as an opportunity to explore both the historic and contemporary structures in our city and the impacts those buildings have on our community.”

These events are not just important to any city that considers itself cultural, let alone Long Beach’s self-appointed moniker of being the “International City,” they are an essential cog in cementing civic pride, cultural education, and neighborly connection.

In other words: Go.

Long Beach Architecture Week runs May 29 through June 9. For information on events and tickets, click here.

Brian Addison
Brian Addison
Brian Addison has been a writer, editor, and photographer for more than a decade, covering everything from food and culture to transportation and housing. In 2015, he was named Journalist of the Year by the Los Angeles Press Club and has since garnered 25 nominations and three additional wins. In 2019, he was awarded the Food/Culture Critic of the Year across any platform at the National Arts & Entertainment Journalism Awards.

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