I've worked here at the Barry Building for almost 23 years, and have loved the open courtyard, the abundant light, and the exuberant mid-century design. The photos in this post were taken by me, unless noted.

The Barry Building, on San Vicente Boulevard in Brentwood, was commissioned by David Barry, designed by architect Milton Caughey, and built in 1951. You can see the influence of Le Corbusier and in particular the Villa Savoye in the design. In 2007 it was declared Historic Cultural Monument # 887 by the Cultural Heritage Commission. Landmark status doesn't protect a building from demolition, though it does create a higher bar to receive permission to demolish.

photo by Ty Miller
Above: The view from the street side into the courtyard.

In the spring of 2016 the tenants of the Barry Building were told we had to vacate by December 31st. Earthquake retrofitting is needed, but it's not likely to happen as the building's owners would prefer to tear it down. They'd like to put up a 73,000 square foot shopping center here. It would be built in the space this building occupies, as well as adjacent lots and a large parking lot in the back. Nothing's been resolved, and until it is this building will be boarded up. I'm hoping a solution will be found to restore the building as part of whatever else is planned here.

Above: The view from the 2nd floor balcony across the courtyard.

Above: The view from the back balcony towards the street side, showing the cantilevered 2nd floor.

Above: Lettering is still etched on the upper windows from an old watchmaker's shop. Windows on both sides of the space make for a light filled interior.

Above and below: The shapes of the planters and the curving stairs enliven the courtyard.

Above and below: The stairs are cantilevered from a central concrete spine.

Above: Louvers block glare from the offices on the east side of the building.

Above: The railing on the left is a graphic element in the design.

Above and below: Dutton's Brentwood Books occupied almost all of the ground floor from 1984 to 2008. There were wonderful book readings here, and an incredible selection with great breadth. It was a great loss to the community when they closed in 2008. Most people still think of this building as the Dutton's location.

Above: This is a scene from the movie "Sylvia" shot here in 1965. George Maharis, seen here, plays a detective hired by Frederic Summers (Peter Lawford) looking for information about his fiancee Sylvia, (Carroll Baker). The bookstore had a different name then. You can see a sign in the back that says there was a soda fountain here. I wonder which space it was in.

Above: The view from our office, which I've enjoyed for almost 23 years. 

Caffe Luxxe is here till December 31st. Come enjoy a cup of coffee in this memorable courtyard while you can!


  1. Laura, this is a beautiful ode to a landmark building. I have many fond memories of book shopping at Duttons. I will take up the invitation to have a coffee at Caffe Luxxe, as it will give me an opportunity to look around before the building becomes inaccessible. Diane

  2. Found your post while trying to understand why the Barry Building is now fenced with plywood over the windows. Thanks for filling in the blanks, and so sorry you lost your workspace. We really hope there is actually a plan for retrofitting this landmark. The alternative, demolition by neglect, would be terrible.