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March 08, 1992|VICKI TORRES

Call it a "Spanish stucco box" and you've got it--the typical older home in many parts of the Southland.

Mediterranean-style, with white stucco walls, red-tile roofs and courtyards, several such homes--on a grander scale--were the works of architects Reginald Johnson, Gordon Kaufmann and Roland Coate, who, individually and in partnership, hit their strides from the 1920s to the 1940s.

The three helped define Southern California's look. But apart from a few architectural historians, hardly anyone gave them, or their structures, a second look.

That obscurity will be partially corrected today, when Lang Gallery on the Scripps College campus opens a monthlong show highlighting the trio's work.

"Most of the material has never been exhibited," said Scripps and Pomona college galleries director Marjorie Harth. "It's drawn from library archives and architects' offices and is being seen for the first time."

Original drawings, blueprints, photos and building models will fill three exhibition spaces in the gallery, Harth said. The show's 144-page catalogue, including a complete building list, is the first published scholarly work to encompass the work of the three, she added.

Like many other Southern California architects, Kaufmann, Johnson and Coate were originally inspired by the early California missions, said the show's co-curator, Jay Belloli. But as they thought about the area's Mediterranean climate, they expanded the style to include design elements from Italian villas, Andalusian farmhouses and Romanesque Renaissance arcades, he said.

Examples of homes incorporating these elements are the Chandler Ward House in San Marino and the Fudger House in West Los Angeles. With their sense of openness, via interior courtyards, balconies and arcades, the houses differ markedly from Midwest-style homes that emphasize interiors and outside porches, Belloli said.

But the three architects did not limit themselves to residential buildings. Major notable public structures include Johnson's Biltmore Hotel in Santa Barbara and Kaufmann's Hoover Dam in Arizona and the Los Angeles Times building in downtown Los Angeles.

The exhibition opens at 2:30 p.m. today with a lecture and panel discussion in the Humanities Auditorium next to the gallery. A reception in the gallery follows from 3:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. Both events are open to the public.

The show runs from 1 to 5 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday, through April 12, in the gallery at 9th Street and Columbia Avenue in Claremont. Admission is free.

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