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The Late Modern Architecture of Santa Rosa

Winery & Vineyards. Sonoma, CACalifornia is home to some of the most iconic and one-of-a-kind examples of 20th-century architecture in the United States. From Sacramento to Palm Springs, cities and towns across the Golden State feature breathtakingly designed homes, commercial structures, and municipal buildings you simply won’t find anywhere else.

Santa Rosa, which is part of the San Francisco Bay Area in Northern California, is no exception. The city is particularly known for its business and government buildings built in the Late Modern style of 20th-century architecture. While their unique designs probably present an equally unique challenge for professional HVAC in Santa Rosa and other building maintenance needs, they make for terrific sight-seeing for visitors and residents alike.

One of the most iconic Late Modern architectural masterpieces of Santa Rosa is the Justice Joseph A Rattigan building located on D Street. This imposing government facility was originally designed to serve as a backup state capitol in the event of nuclear war (those were the days!) Another government-purpose structure worth checking out is the John F. Shea Federal Building located on Sonoma Avenue.

Several business buildings throughout Santa Rosa are also notable examples of Late Modern architecture. The Western Pacific Loans building, which unfortunately sits currently abandoned, is another showcase of the cantilever concrete facade which dominated the Late Modern era. An unnamed three-story office building located at 90 South E Street, which is home to various businesses, also demonstrates the angle-driven and seemingly physics-defying hallmarks of the Late Modern style.

When it comes to residential Late Modern architecture in Santa Rosa, the names Buff & Hensman come to mind. Now named Buff, Smith, and Hensman, the architectural firm was behind some of the city’s more noteworthy Mid-Century home designs before switching gears and focusing on what would eventually be known as Late-Modern. While most architectural enthusiasts of today are likely to appreciate the light and transparent look of their earlier works, the bunker-like style of their later designs is not without its merits.

If a walking tour of Late Modern architecture sounds appealing, simply take a stroll through downtown Santa Rosa. A series of interesting looking 20th-century buildings and parking garages are spattered across the city’s main drag. These include law offices, stores, and an annex of Santa Rosa City Hall. Next to the annex is a parking garage which also demonstrates the stylistic application of concrete facade that defines much of the Late Modern architectural style.

Have you booked your trip to Santa Rosa yet? If not, no worries. It’s likely these iconic buildings aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. Barring the earthquake damage that threatens the area, these structures are going to keep standing for many years to come.

While visiting Santa Rosa, consider hopping on a bus or renting a car and checking out other examples of iconic architecture in the Bay Area. Simply picking a direction and heading that way is likely to lead to incredible finds.

California has no shortage of culturally or historically significant buildings. Virtually every city in the Golden State has something that lovers of architecture will enjoy. All you need to do is get out there and start exploring.

Image Courtesy of Sebastian Ospina


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