Photograph: Chris Fitzgerald, 2010, Paul Revere Williams Project
During the final years of his career, Paul R. Williams continued to design modern homes like SeaView, but most of his work was institutional. UCLA’s Franz Hall II, Martin Luther King, Jr. General Hospital in Watts with longtime collaborator, Adrian Wilson, and Guardian Angel Cathedral in Las Vegas are distinctively contemporary.
Two of Williams’ best known late buildings are the futuristic La Concha Motel in Las Vegas and the Los Angeles International Airport Theme Building. Williams, along with members of two other firms, shared responsibility for the $50 million airport. No individual is credited with designing a specific part, including the Theme Building. However, the pierced screen surrounding its base and garden, a feature that Williams used earlier in the Founder’s Church of Religious Science and later in St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, demonstrates his participation.
Williams’ celebrity as an architect was equaled by his reputation for generosity. In the 1960s, he contributed designs for the new home of Los Angeles’ earliest black congregation, the First African Methodist Episcopal Church, where he was a lifelong member and trustee, and for St. Jude, with its commitment to children of all races, religions, nationalities and economic circumstances.
Paul R. Williams retired from practice in 1973. He died on January 23, 1980, his contribution to American architecture heralded widely in popular and professional media.