Edward A. Killingsworth has been, until the writing of this book, an unexamined genius of Southern California modernism. After his architectural education at USC and after service in the European theater of war in World War Two, Killingsworth settled into his home town of Long Beach and into an architectural practice that lasted almost half a century. His talents were quickly spotted by John Entenza, editor of Arts + Architecture magazine, and Killingsworth contributed much-admired projects to Entenza's influential Case Study House program. His calm and elegant post-and-beam structures have an almost Miesian grace, while they also embrace the new local model of modernism, fitting into the relaxed post-war indoor-outdoor ethos of Southern California.
But Killingsworth and his firm did much more. He contributed many plans and projects to Long Beach; had it survived, his calm and elegant Duffield Lincoln-Mercury Agency would be recognized as the masterpiece it was. In parallel to residential and commercial work, the Killingsworth firm were also pioneers in the planning and development of resort hotels around the Pacific Rim; two outstanding examples of these new inclusive resorts are the Kahala Hilton and the Bali Hilton.
Architectural historians Jennifer M. Volland and Cara Mullio recognized Killingsworth's importance while researching their first book, Long Beach Architecture: The Unexpected Metropolis (2005). They conducted interviews with Killingsworth himself and with his family and associates. They explored and organized the firm's extensive archives. A thorough, well-illustrated introduction posits Killingsworth, his family, and his firm in the Southern California milieu in which they thrived. This is followed by in-depth examinations of 42 of the most important projects the firm produced, from small residential pavilions to enormous hotel and resort developments. The entire book is profusely illustrated with photographs, renderings, plans, and elevations from the archives, almost all unseen before. With this work, Volland and Mullio have painted a rich portrait of Edward A. Killingsworth the man and the architect, and they have explored his particular design genius and placed him where he ultimately belongs, among the brightest stars of Southern California modernist architects.