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Paul Tay in 2012.

Biography provided by Long Beach Heritage for their Excellence in Architecture Award  presented to Mr. Tay in 2013.

Renowned architect Paul Tay has made an impact on Southern California architecture.


Paul Edward Tay, AIA, opened a studio in Long Beach in 1956 and designed many buildings here before moving to Mendocino in 1971. He is noted for his stellar Mid-Century Modern residential designs and his distinctive office and compound of 1961 on Crest Drive. Tay’s grandparents settled in Long Beach in 1901, but he was born in Pomona in 1924. Tay became i n terested in architecture in 1939, when he designed a home for his grandmother, and graduated cum laude from the University of California in 1950. T h e m o s t p owe r f u l influence on Paul Tay’s work was Frank Lloyd Wright. He and his fellow students visited Wright’s studio at Taliesin West in Scottsdale in 1949. He also admired Philip Johnson’s Glass House, constructed in 1949 in New Canaan, which was totally stripped of ornament, unlike Wright’s work. After graduation from USC, Tay  worked in George Montierth’s office in the Ocean Center Building. Montierth designed many striking Modernist residences in Long Beach in the late 1940s and 1950s.


Tay was responsible for designing the Dr. Syd Penn residence on Burlinghall Drive in 1954 while he was still working for Montierth. This house has low pitched rock roofs and glass walls that open onto the garden, causing the structure and the landscaping to merge into a unified whole. The interior has exposed ceiling beams, two fireplaces, numerous built-ins, and cork floors. The kitchen retains its original cabinets and sliding wooden screen that allows it to be closed off from the family room, as well as typical fifties turquoise and yellow bathroom fixtures. The Carl Darrow house was built in 1956 on Pine Avenue and has an asymmetrical plan, gabled roofs with projecting beams, and a large textured fieldstone chimney. In 1957 Tay designed the William Crail residence on El Parque with a cathedral ceiling and huge, triangular clerestory windows set into the apexes of the gables to allow light to flood into the home. These houses have open plans, where the spaces of the public rooms flow into one another.


By the mid-sixties, Paul Tay began to create designs for homes based on a hexagonal module, influenced by Frank Lloyd Wright’s Hanna house in Palo Alto. The John Massey residence of 1966 on San Antonio Drive consists of a series of hexagons articulated by groups of floor-to-ceiling windows. The roofs resemble the Japanese irimoya type and the entrance to the house is recessed between two projecting masses. Tay’s iconic studio and rental duplex on Crest Drive, constructed in 1961-63 on a sloping lot with a spectacular view, have triple A-framed roofs that create soaring interior spaces. The natural wood of the exposed roof beams is complemented by stucco walls and large expanses of glass. The split level studio building has skylights which flood the drafting room with light, as well as a brick fireplace with a metal hood and chimney. The distinctive triangular shapes of these buildings now merge with the landscaping and are invisible from the street. One of Paul Tay’s last major projects in Long Beach was the Burnett Public Library on Hill Street. He was awarded the contract in 1967 and the building was constructed in 1969-70. It has stucco and glass walls and an asymmetrical, rambling plan. This building was one of a group of Modernist libraries commissioned in Long Beach at mid-century to serve the expanding population of the city and school children in particular.


In 1966 Tay wrote: “I think that there is a trend away from ’less is more’ and I am glad. I like to take the example of the natural world around us— nature, I think, is abundant, not stingy. Underlying its abundance, however, is a strict set of natural laws. Much of nature’s design is repetition with variation, laid over a consistent basic framework (consider a tree).”


In February 2013. Mr, Tay received receive an award for excellence in architecture from Long Beach Heritage.

Meeting Mr. Tay at an honorary banquet in 2013.

Did Paul Edward Tay win a "Boat Contest" in Popular Science, March 1946? 

More Paul Tay Architecture
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