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About The Village Green
LA Magazine Article, January 2003
The Lebrun Mural in the Clubhouse
Baldwin Hills Village: Spotlight on the Garden (link to CLF Web site)
LA Times article, September 19, 2009 (links to LAT Web site)
Historical Overview of Baldwin Hills Village (now known as the Village Green)
For more history about the Village Green, visit this blog, written by Village Green resident and Board Director Steven Keylon:
Baldwin Hills Village...and the Village Green: Exploring the Rich History of this National Historic Landmark Community from 1941
Baldwin Hills Village, now known as the Village Green, is a park-like residential community located on a 64-acre site along the southwest edge of the city of Los Angeles. For more than half a century, Baldwin Hills Village has maintained a surprisingly high degree of historic integrity. In 1972, Baldwin Hills Village was converted from rental units to condominiums and renamed The Village Green.
A Unique Landscape
The current landscape is enhanced by the wonderful variety of mature specimen trees, which are exceptional for their numbers, size, and variety of species. The great rows of sycamore and olive trees, now mature, still screen and define spaces as envisioned by the original planning. A wide variety of well maintained flowering shrubs now blend with extensive areas of lawn to soften and accent the spaces around paths and buildings creating a place of remarkable calm and beauty.
The central focus of The Village Green is a central open space, an 800-foot semi-oval central green which is linked to smaller greens to the east and west by rows of paired sycamore trees that operate powerfully as an architectural element. Other open areas, or garden courts, open out onto the main greens. A greater variety of flowering plants have been introduced, although the architectonic rows of paired trees, usually sycamore and olive, remained in the plan.
There are 85 two-story buildings, or two-story with one-story end piece buildings. These end pieces are either single units or one-story parts of three-bedroom townhouses. The two-story portions of the buildings contain either townhouse units occupying both floors, or apartment flats one above the other. There are also nine one-story cottages, all consisting of three one-bedroom units.
The "Radburn Plan"
Reginald Johnson (1882–1952), prominent Los Angeles architect, working in association with the firm of Lewis Wilson, Edwin Merrill, and Robert Alexander, was the project architect, while Clarence Stein (1882–1975), already a noted author, planner, and architect, was prominently credited as consulting architect. The site plan is considered the best and most fully developed example of Clarence Stein's "Radburn Idea" of neighborhood community planning. The buildings and the site plan are largely unchanged, and constitute one of the finest examples of progressive idealism directed toward providing high quality urban housing. The Village Green is also prominently cited in the book by noted Los Angeles Times architectural critic, Sam Hall Kaplan, LA Lost & Found.
Construction on Baldwin Hills began in February 1941 and continued through December 1942. The cost of the project was approximately $3.3 million. Franklin Delano Roosevelt's new Federal Housing Administration provided critical financing by insuring $2.6 million worth of mortgages. The local contracting firm Marks Charde began the work, but was replaced by the Herb Baruch Construction Company after the beginning of World War II.
The architecture of the buildings of Baldwin Hills Village is clear and simple. The buildings do not focus attention on themselves. The long two story facades, with strong horizontal lines at the eaves and balconies, along with the low hipped and gable roofs create a quiet and uncomplicated domestic architecture. The style is a simplified modernist version of common building types that Lewis Mumford described as robust vernacular.
The Site Plan
The site plan is one of the most significant assets of Baldwin Hills Village. It successfully demonstrates Clarence Stein's ideal of complete separation of automobile and pedestrian traffic, while providing a calm oasis of greenery in an urban area. The genius of the plan consists in the way the garage courts penetrate into cul-de-sacs lined with the residential buildings, which in turn face onto the pedestrian oriented garden courts. Each court was designed for an average of 36 residences along with a cluster of garage buildings and common facilities for laundry and garbage collection.