January 2016 Meeting – Tracts, Ranch Houses, and Mid Century O.C. – Speaker: Alan Hess

New Central Orange County Housing Tract circa 1964

Architect and historian Alan Hess will present a program about “Tracts, Ranch Houses and Mid-Century Orange County” at the Jan. 14, 2016 meeting of Orange County Historical Society. The meeting will be held at 7:30 p.m., Trinity Episcopal Church, 2400 N. Canal St., in the City of Orange. The public is welcome to attend.

Orange County in the mid-twentieth century served as a laboratory for new kinds of architecture that suited the new lifestyles, technology, and innovative urban character of America as the population shifted from decaying center cities to suburbia. This program will investigate some of those innovations, including mass produced tract housing, the Ranch House as the most popular housing type in the nation, and master planned communities which sought to perfect the suburban metropolis. Far from being a bland landscape, Orange County led the United States in innovation.

Alan Hess is the author of nineteen books on Modern architecture and urbanism in the mid-twentieth century. His subjects include John Lautner, Oscar Niemeyer, Frank Lloyd Wright, the Ranch House, Googie architecture, Las Vegas, and Palm Springs. He is the architecture critic of the San Jose Mercury News, a contributor to The Architects Newspaper, grant recipient from the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts, and a National Arts Journalism Program Fellow. He’s received several awards, including the Honor Award from the National Trust for Historic Preservation for qualifying the oldest remaining McDonald’s for the National Register of Historic Places, and the President’s Award from the Los Angeles Conservancy for three decades of work in preserving Modern architecture. He is currently writing a history of Modern Architecture in California.