Edward Fickett is often described as an unsung hero in the atmosphere of the groundbreaking Mid-Century architecture and development of Los Angeles in its heyday. His credentials are impressive. He graduated with a BA in architecture from USC in 1937, went on to study for his Master’s Degree in Engineering and City Planning at MIT, attended the Art Center of Design, and was a draftsman under Paul Williams, Sumner Spaulding, and Gordon Kaufmann. He lectured in the AIA University series, was an advisor to Eisenhower on post war housing, and in his work with Joseph Eichler, was a pioneer in designing and building 60,000 homes, now seen as the building blocks of suburban planning and innovation synonymous with California Modernism. His roots as a fourth generation Angeleno were in construction, the trade his father and grandfather worked in.
Edward Fickett had the acclaim and style to attract many celebrity clients, such as Charlie Chaplin, Joan Crawford, Groucho Marx, Jack Benny, Ava Gardner, and Dick Clark. As a student At USC, he was introduced to Irene Dunne by his father, who had just told Edward that because money was tight, he might not be able to continue at school. She had hired the best architects she could find to build a home suited to her ideas. Their failure frustrated her so, that Fickett found her in tears over the plans spread out before her. He turned them over, and at her kitchen table, drew the designs she had been hoping for. In appreciation, she anonymously paid for his tuition and living expenses for the remainder of his studies…something he discovered long after the fact.
He went on to create an impressive body of work, and won many awards. Some of his notable designs include La Costa Resort near San Diego, Edwards Air Force Base, the Naval Air Station at Los Alamitos, Murphy Canyon Heights Naval Base in San Diego, La Jolla Fashion Center, the Bistro Gardens restaurant in Beverly Hills, Spago Restaurant in West Hollywood, Scandia Restaurant, the Port of Los Angeles Passenger and Cargo Terminals, Dodger Stadium, Ocotillo Lodge, Hotel Palm Springs.
Edward Fickett eschewed the limelight sought by his contemporaries, and found gratification in his work by providing the best architectural design and technology to the greatest number of people he could. “Fickett Homes” would become known for their innovative features, such as floor-to-ceiling windows, vaulted ceilings, open kitchens connected to dining rooms, sliding closet doors, plentiful wood, brick and glass, concrete mixed with cheery colors, and landscaping surroundingthe entire house to create a marriage between the interior and exterior.
His association with Joseph Eichler, and other real estate developers, was the platform on which he was able to achieve his greatest success and recognition. The quote, “He’s remembered for not one house, but for defining housing as we know it”, pretty much sums up Fickett’s greatest contribution. His devoted wife, and biggest fan, lovingly kept his archives in tact, and donated them to USC School of Architecture, in hope that his legacy will inspire students to follow his course. After his passing in 1999, Edward Fickett was recognized with the Presidential Merit of Honor, the only architect to gain such recognition.