I read recently that the design for the proposed Malibu shopping center is to be barn-like wood structures with corrugated metal roofs. In a different article I read that it would look like the new center at the corner of Tranas Canyon and PCH. Aestethic tastes vary, but to me, this does not sound all that great.
I would prefer that we stay closer to our own architectural and historical roots. We were never a New England village after all. The original owner of Rancho Topanga Malibu Sequit was King Charles III of Spain who, through the governor in Santa Barbara, allowed Don Tapia and his family to work the land as a rancho. Don Tapia received a “use concession” from the Spanish king around the year 1800. Following the Mexican war of independence California became Mexican territory, but Malibu remained in the hands of Don Tapia. Eventually, after changing hands a couple of times, Fredric Hasting Rindge bought the 13,000-acre Malibu Rancho in 1892 for $10 per acre.
The Rindge family, including their daughter and son-in-law Rhoda and Merrit Adamson, are responsible for building the first homes in Malibu, namely The Adamson House, Malibu’s first beach house, now a museum, and the mostly rebuilt Rindge Castle, now known as the Serra Retreat House. Both houses are spectacular examples of Spanish Colonial Revival Architecture and generously decorated with the famous Malibu tiles, which were made right here at the Malibu Pottery, located just west of what is now the Malibu Beach Inn. The mostly rebuilt Serra Retreat remained as faithful to the Spanish Colonial Revival style as dollars would allow, including incorporating Malibu tile into its design.
Other still existing structures in this architectural style include the tower at Alice’s restaurant built in 1928 when the pier was part of the Adamson’s property. The old court house is another example of this style.
Moreover, we already have a new development in the Revival style, namely the Hughes shopping center. I think most people would agree that whatever our thoughts about it may have been when this shopping center first went up, it’s turned out to be an attractive addition to our town.
Apart from the fact that wood barns with corrugated metal roofs don’t sound that attractive to me personally, I am not sure a town as small a Malibu can handle more than one architectural style in its commercial buildings without it starting to look like a hodgepodge of Valley shopping malls. What makes a town attractive, like Carmel for instance, is the uniformity of style; and what gives a town its soul is a sense of its own history incorporated into its public spaces.