Biographical / Historical
Scope and Content of Collection
Title: AC Martin Partners drawings and records on microfilm
Date (inclusive): 1906-2006
76.5 Linear Feet
The Getty Research Institute
1200 Getty Center Drive, Suite 1100
Los Angeles 90049-1688
Business Number: (310) 440-7390
Fax Number: (310) 440-7780
The AC Martin Partners drawings and records on microfilm document
the significant role this prominent, multi-generational firm has played in shaping the built
environment of Southern California throughout the last 100 years. The records consist
predominantly of aperture cards mounted with microfilmed copies of over 67,000 architectural
drawings, technical plans, and site surveys for civic, commercial, and residential projects
predominantly in the greater Los Angeles area. These aperture cards are supported by
microfilmed copies of project documentation for several early projects, and a selection of
the professional correspondence of Albert C. Martin Senior.
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Biographical / Historical
AC Martin Partners are an architectural firm whose contributions to commercial and civic
structures have shaped the built environment of Los Angeles. In operation since 1906, the
firm has consistently emphasized maintaining a balance between precise planning and
engineering. Based on the program and location of a building, and with appropriate design
elements that reflect the building's intended role, their approach has remained consistent
over 100 years of practice. AC Martin Partners are widely recognized for iconic structures
such as the Los Angeles City Hall, Grauman's Million Dollar Theater, May Company Wilshire,
and the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, as well as their extensive contribution
to the skyline of downtown Los Angeles, including Sanwa Bank Plaza and City National Plaza.
In a landscape that is home to many architects striving to define themselves with
strikingly distinct styles, AC Martin Partners has consistently contributed architecture
seemingly without branding, and structures that reflect the community and climate rather
than the firm's corporate identity. Under the guidance of Albert C. Martin Junior
(1913-2006) the firm's unofficial slogan was, "The firm is not a single individual," and
from honoring neoclassical traditions and the Beaux-Arts style, to Art Deco buildings and
glass tower blocks, and from malls to military facilities, their work is all-encompassing.
The firm was a central figure in the 1950s post-war boom in Southern California, building
many schools, churches, shopping centers, and technology facilities, as well as contributing
to a vast amount of less-visible structural engineering work that binds the fabric of the
city as a whole.
AC Martin Partners have also maintained a tradition of being civic leaders and generous
contributors to their community beyond their corporate practice. The Martins are
politically-minded and have been long-time board members of countless city planning
associations and advisory councils, as well as frequent recipients of professional awards.
Both Albert C. Martin Jr. and his nephew Christopher C. Martin (b. 1950) served as elected
presidents of the Southern California chapter of the American Institute of Architects (AIA),
and Christopher C. Martin is credited with being the originator of Los Angeles's Adaptive
Re-use Ordinance, which initiated the revitalization of Downtown Los Angeles in the early
The firm bears the distinction of having remained a family-run business for three
generations. At the turn of the nineteenth-century, the young architect and engineer Albert
Carey Martin left the midwestern United States and traveled to California, a land then
symbolic of modern growth and opportunities. Martin would find both hardship and great
success in the West, and ultimately build a legacy integral to the history of Los Angeles, a
legacy that continues to grow through his grandchildren.
Born in 1879, Albert Carey Martin was one of eight children raised by parents John and Mary
Margaret (née Carey) in La Salle, Illinois. Martin completed his formal education in
Illinois, graduating with a Bachelor of Science in architectural engineering from the
University of Illinois in 1902. After graduation, Martin relocated to Indianapolis, where he
served as a draftsman for Brown-Ketcham Iron Works. This was followed by a move to
Pittsburgh, where he spent two years working for the Pennsylvania Railroad Company. In 1904
Martin followed his brother Joseph, a Roman Catholic priest, to Los Angeles, California.
Martin began doing manual labor related to the expansion of the rail lines for the Pacific
Electric Railway, and was later employed by the building contractor Carl Leonardt &
Company, for whom he worked as a construction laborer and then a foreman. The connections he
formed through these experiences led Martin to the appointment of engineer for the
development of the Hamburger Department Store in 1906. In an unanticipated turn of events, a
falling out between the project's head architect and the client resulted in Martin being
given the title of architect. Martin successfully guided the completion of the landmark
building, and launched his own architectural firm under the name Albert C. Martin and
Associates. A year later he married California native Carolyn Borchard, and the couple
settled in Central Los Angeles, in the neighborhood now known as Koreatown. Here they raised
six children: Evelyn, Margaret, Albert Junior, Carolyn, John Edward, and Lucille.
Two of Martin's brothers, Frank and Emmett, came to work at Albert C. Martin and Associates
in the early 1910s, but World War I drew both of them to Europe. Frank's fate remains
unknown, but Emmett returned to California and the firm in 1919, after studying at the École
des Beaux-Arts in Paris. By 1924 Emmett had left Albert C. Martin and Associates to open his
own architectural firm. He experienced a successful career in the Los Angeles area,
particularly in his work for the Roman Catholic Church, until his premature death at the age
of 48 in November 1937.
By the mid-1930s Albert C. Martin and Associates had become a prominent commercial firm in
Los Angeles. In addition to momentous landmarks like the Hamburgers Department Store (1908),
Grauman's Million Dollar Theater (1917), and Los Angeles City Hall (1928), they also
completed multiple high schools, church rectories, office buildings, factories and
warehouses. By this time, Martin's two sons, Albert Junior (August 3, 1913 – March 30, 2006)
and John Edward (October 23, 1916 – November 22, 2004), had become the second generation of
Albert C. Martin and Associates. Albert Junior graduated from the University of Southern
California (USC) in 1936, then studied civil engineering at The California Institute of
Technology. John Edward spent two years at USC before pursuing architectural engineering at
the University of Illinois. By the late 1940s Albert Junior and John Edward had worked up to
management roles at the firm. In 1959 their mother Carolyn passed away. Not long after
losing his wife, Martin Senior experienced a stroke and died on April 9, 1960.
The 1950s and 1960s were a period of expansion in southern California, and Albert C. Martin
and Associates built many industrial manufacturing plants, scientific research facilities,
hospitals, and parking lots during this time. This was also a period of shopping malls, and
the firm completed two notable developments - The Lakewood Shopping Center and the Eastland
Shopping Center - both projects for the May Department Store Company. 1965 saw the
completion of one of the firm's most iconic structures, the Los Angeles Department of Water
and Power. Built in the International Style, this building demonstrated to Los Angeles that
the second generation of Albert C. Martin and Associates was just as dedicated to giving the
city strong and notable civic structures as the first had been.
A third generation of the Martin family found its place within the firm by the 1970s.
Albert Junior's son David Martin, FAIA, (b. 1942) joined in 1967, after graduating from the
USC School of Architecture and completing a Masters of Architecture at Columbia University.
John Edward's son Christopher C. Martin, FAIA, (b. 1950) graduated from USC with a Bachelor
of Science in Architecture in 1974. The firm began to play a large role in earthquake damage
repair and seismic upgrades by the mid-1970s, work which included a multi-phase retrofitting
of Los Angeles City Hall in the 1990s. Their contribution to the skyline of downtown Los
Angeles has been significant, and includes the Union Bank Plaza (1967), ARCO Plaza (1972),
Bank of America Plaza (1974), Citigroup Center (1982), TCW Tower (1990), Figueroa at
Wilshire (1991), and Two California Plaza (1992).
The firm now operates under the name AC Martin Partners, Incorporated, under the guidance
of Christopher and David Martin. Christopher Martin is the firm's current CEO; he has long
served as chairman and member on many city planning, commerce and philanthropic boards, and
is a founding member of the Los Angeles Business Improvement District. David Martin is an
award-winning architect and design principal who also runs the Martin Architecture and
Design Workshop (MADWorkshop) in Santa Monica, California. This firm has evolved through
challenging economic and political times, through transitory stylistic influences, and
through three generations of the same family. Today, AC Martin Partners are leaders in
sustainable design and technological advancements in engineering and architecture, and
continue to contribute to the city they helped build.
AC Martin Partners.
AC Martin Partners: Thinking Simultaneously. Milano:
L'Arca Edizioni, 2002.
AC Martin Partners, and Kanner, Diane.
1906-2006: AC Martin Partners, One Hundred
Years of Architecture.
[Los Angeles, California], 2006.
Hines, Thomas S.
Architecture of the Sun : Los Angeles Modernism, 1900-1970.
New York : Rizzoli, 2010.
Conditions Governing Access
This collection is open for use by qualified researchers, but requires special handling by
both the reading room and researchers. Series III. Office documentation is on microfilm
reels that are currently restricted until reformatting is complete.
Conditions Governing Use
AC Martin Partners records, 1906-2006, The Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles, Accession
Immediate Source of Acquisition
Gift of AC Martin Partners, Inc. Acquired in 2015.
In the summer of 2016, Multicultural Undergraduate Intern Kathryn Reuter conducted the
preliminary rehousing of the aperture cards while retaining their original order.
In the fall of 2016, Graduate Intern Talia Olshefsky used a FileMaker Pro database that had
been produced by AC Martin Partners to create a container list, with the assistance of Laura
Schroffel. Talia Olshefsky physically verified the presence of each project listed in the
database, rehoused and catalogued the records on index cards, viewed and catalogued the 14
reels of microfilm, and completed the documentation of the archive under the supervision of
Ann Harrison and Kit Messick.
UCLA's Center for Oral History Research. Oral History Collection:
Interview of Albert
Carey Martin Jr., 1980-1981.
Collection contains audio tapes and transcripts of Albert Carey Martin Jr. being
interviewed about the history of the Martin family, A. C. Martin and Associates, and his own
career as an architect.
Julius Shulman photography archive, 1936-1997, Getty Research Institute, Accession no.
Shulman photographed several buildings associated with AC Martin Partners between
1955-1975. These images can be found in the Julius Shulman photography archive, 1936-1997,
and includes photographs of private residences, corporate offices, the Los Angeles City
Hall, the Los Angeles County Jail, and the firm's own office building (1953). The archive
also includes a staff portrait of Albert C. Martin and Associates from 1951.
David C. Martin on three generations of the A.C. Martin firm, April 1, 2013
The exhibition OVERDRIVE: L.A. Constructs the Future 1940-1990 (April 9 – July 21, 2013) at
The J. Paul Getty Museum investigated the evolution of Los Angeles into one of the most
"influential industrial, economic, and creative capitals in the world." The exhibition
featured a video interview with David C. Martin.
Scope and Content of Collection
The AC Martin Partners drawings and records on microfilm document the significant role this
Southern California firm has played in shaping the built environment of Los Angeles
throughout the last 100 years. Through copies on microfilm and aperture cards containing
detailed architectural drawings, technical plans, and site surveys for commercial,
residential, and public service projects, both the history of this multi-generational,
continuously operating firm, and the development of the Greater Los Angeles Area, through a
variety of architectural styles, are seen.
Documented here is AC Martin Partners' contribution to prized Los Angeles landmarks such as
Grauman's Million Dollar Theater, The May Company Wilshire Building, the Los Angeles
Department of Water and Power, Saint Basil's Roman Catholic Church, and City National Plaza
(ARCO Plaza), as well as the firm's extensive planning and engineering work, including
countless parking structures, office interiors, schools alterations, and seismic upgrades.
From honoring neoclassical traditions (Ventura County Courthouse) and the Beaux-Arts style
(Higgins Building), to Art Deco (Los Angeles City Hall) and Streamline Moderne (May
Company-Wilshire), and on to modernist architecture (Saint Basil's Roman Catholic Church)
and glass tower blocks (Wells Fargo Bank Building), their professional portfolio is
AC Martin Partners had their original architectural drawings copied on microfilm and
mounted on aperture cards; these aperture cards are in Series I. Not all projects are
represented equally within these records; some projects appear to have a complete set of
plans, while others may only have one or two plans. The drawings are accompanied by a filing
system devised by the firm for the aperture cards, which is represented by Series II. The
filing system consists of a set of index cards with typewritten data, with each index card
representing a project for which plans were microfilmed and made into aperture cards. Series
III contains microfilmed copies of project documentation, including notes, financial
statements, client invoices, and correspondence. Series III also notably includes articles
for publication written by Albert C. Martin Sr. regarding architectural practices in
This collection is arranged in three series: Series I. Architectural drawings, 1906-2006;
Series II. Filing system for drawings, 1906-2006; and Series III. Office documentation and
Subjects - Topics
Architects -- California -- Los Angeles
Architecture -- California -- Los Angeles -- 20th century
Architecture, Modern -- 20th century -- Designs and plans
Subjects - Places
Los Angeles (Calif.) -- Buildings, structures, etc. -- 20th
Genres and Forms of Material