Samuel E. Lunden; Veteran L.A. Architect


Samuel E. Lunden, veteran Los Angeles architect who designed such landmarks as USC’s Doheny Memorial Library and the old Pacific Stock Exchange building on Spring Street, has died. He was 97.

Lunden died Saturday at his home in Rancho Palos Verdes, his son, Robert A. Lunden, said Monday.

The architect’s seven-decade career began to flourish along with Downtown’s growth spurt in the late 1920s and during the Depression. Placing his indelible classic and Art Deco stamp on Los Angeles, Lunden maintained his own office on Spring Street for some 50 years. He sold his business to Lyon Associates in 1985, but worked as a consultant into his 90s.

Although ground was broken for the old Pacific Stock Exchange building only a week before the stock market crash in 1929, the $1.5-million project went forward. Lunden’s sculpted facade capitals and the biggest bronze doors west of the Mississippi were not sacrificed to Depression belt-tightening.


Among Lunden’s other works were the 1928 wing of the Biltmore Hotel, the interiors of St. Vincent de Paul Church at Figueroa Street and Adams Boulevard and his own Spanish-style home in Rancho Palos Verdes, where he and his wife, Leila, reared their three children.

Lunden was perhaps most proud of his 1960 Las Palmas School for Girls, which was later named the Dorothy Kirby Center. The complex, located under the intersection of the Long Beach and Santa Ana freeways in East Los Angeles, was a prototype for correctional institutions.

“Supervisor John Anson Ford told me he wanted something nice for the girls,” Lunden recalled for The Times in 1988. “ ‘Make it pleasant, not like a jail,’ he said, and that’s what we did.”

Lunden listed public buildings, office buildings, space planning, interior design and master and city planning as among his talents.


His urban planning projects included some that were never completely developed, such as the “Carveyor” he suggested in 1956. The plan was to move six-passenger cars on conveyor belts 15 feet above street level at 15 m.p.h. through Downtown Los Angeles.

His study of the project for Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. also proposed a moving sidewalk for passengers to step out on. That part of the design was never adopted for Downtown, but moving sidewalks are in use at venues such as the Hollywood Bowl and the Coliseum.

Lunden was a fellow of the American Institute of Architecture and served as national president in 1965. He won the organization’s Edward C. Kemper Award for “significant contributions to the Institute and [the] Architectural profession.”

Lunden’s vision earned an early tryout. After World War I, he was among 50 young American architects and engineers sent to rebuild France.

“We were told to find Verdun under the rubble,” he related in a speech to MIT classmates at their 50th reunion, “and to re-establish the lines of the city.”

Educated at Pasadena High School, Caltech and MIT, Lunden became a major fund-raiser for MIT and created an endowment there to assist graduate students in urban studies and planning.

Lunden had been active in Los Angeles’ Town Hall since 1943, and served as its president in 1965. He was also active on the civic organization’s board of governors for many years, and in 1984 was named an honorary life governor.

In addition to his wife of 70 years and his son, Robert, of Lummi Island, Wash., Lunden is survived by two daughters, Alice L. Olsen of Oakland, and Ardel Rorden of Santa Barbara; a sister, Signe Wedberg; three grandchildren, two great-grandchildren and several nieces and nephews.


Graveside services are scheduled for 10 a.m. today at Green Hills Memorial Park in Rancho Palos Verdes.