LAX Theme Building
Madison Square Garden
Charles Luckman (May 16, 1909, Kansas
City–January 26, 1999, Los
Angeles) was a businessman and an American architect, famous as the "Boy Wonder of American
Business" when he was named president of the Pepsodent toothpaste
company in 1939 at the age of thirty.
he later became president of Lever
During the war
, Luckman served on the
Committee on Civil Rights
, and in 1947, President Truman
asked him to help feed starving Europe.
For this work, he was honored with Britain's Order of St. John
, France's Legion of Honor
, and Italy's Star of Solidarity
Luckman had always wanted to be an architect. As a nine-year-old
paper boy outside the Muehlebach Hotel in Kansas City, he asked a customer about the
pretty lights and was told they were called "chandeliers."
Then he asked, "Who does...
Who decides on things like that?" "An architect," came the reply.
"He designs the hotel and says to put the chandeliers there."
Luckman wrote in his memoir, "Right then and there I decided to
become an architect."
at the University of Illinois where he was a member of the Professional
Engineering Fraternity Theta Tau, but went
into sales after graduating during the depths of the Great Depression. After almost twenty
years of great success in business, he helped plan Lever Brothers' New York skyscraper, Lever House, one of the first sealed glass towers that began
the curtain wall trend.
The complex, designed by Gordon Bunshaft
of Skidmore, Owings, and Merrill
was innovative in several other ways, as well, including a rare
public plaza at ground level.
of his architectural roots, Luckman resigned the presidency of
Lever Brothers, moved to Los Angeles and began practicing architecture with fellow
University of Illinois graduate William
Pereira c1950. Their partnership led to works such as
City, but the two went separate ways in 1959.
firm went on to design the Prudential Tower in Boston, the new
Garden in New York
Stadium in Honolulu, Aon Center in Los
Angeles, and the NASA Manned Spacecraft Center in Houston.
Luckman's autobiography is Twice in a Lifetime: From Soap to
(New York, NY: W. W. Norton, 1988) 0-393-02584-5
"Learn to listen to your clients. It's a shocking thought, but your
client was smart enough to make enough money to hire you and to
afford to build a building. Listen. You just may possibly
- Theme Building and master redesign of Los Angeles
International Airport, 1960
- Launch Operations Center , Merritt Island, Florida, 1961
- Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center, Houston, Texas
- Federal Pavilion, 1964-1965 New York World's
- Prudential Tower, Boston
- The Forum, Inglewood, California (1965)
- Madison Square Garden, New York
- McDonald Investment Center,
- Macy's Plaza,
- Los Angeles Convention Center (1972) (partially demolished)
- Aon Center, Los
- Hyatt Regency, Dearborn, Michigan (1976).
- Hyatt Regency Phoenix, Phoenix,
- Wells Fargo
Center , Portland,