Gin Wong, Who Designed Futuristic Buildings in Los Angeles, Dies at 94

Mr. Wong designed the gas station while working for his former teacher and mentor, William L. Pereira, around the time that he was also credited with creating the startling, spider-like Theme Building at the Los Angeles airport.

Writing in The Los Angeles Times in 2010, the critic Bob Pool called the building “part spaceship, part flying saucer” and said that Mr. Wong had “set out to create a futuristic building that would both reflect its relationship with aviation and stand the test of time.”

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The Los Angeles International Airport’s Theme Building. Mr. Wong is credited with creating the startling, spider-like structure.


Credit
Michal Czerwonka for The New York Times

Mr. Wong was professionally connected to the sprawling airport throughout his career. He was drawn to helping transform it to accommodate the jet age in part because of his own aviation background: Mr. Wong had been a B-29 navigator in the Pacific during World War II, based on the island of Tinian.

He became the airport’s director of design development in a joint venture with architects in the 1950s, and three decades later his firm supervised a redesign. He developed its satellite terminal system and its two-level roadway.

Gin Dan Wong was born on Sept. 17, 1922, in Guangzhou, China, and moved to Los Angeles with an aunt at age 9. He was later joined by his mother, Ng Pui King, and his sister, Wong Kam Chung. His father died before Mr. Wong immigrated to the United States. As a youngster, he excelled in mathematics, science and drawing; he once said he found it easier to draw a word than spell it.

Mr. Wong studied engineering at Los Angeles City College before serving in the Army Air Corps. While there, a platoon member whose father was an architect noticed Mr. Wong’s skills in math and art (in drawing posters) and suggested that he study architecture.

Years later, he recognized how helpful being a navigator had been to his work as an architect.

“I had to learn how to get from here to there,” he told The Los Angeles Times in 1974. “I had to know how much fuel would be needed and how long the trip would take. The big message was to minimize the odds to survive.”

After the war, he studied at the University of Illinois and graduated from the School of Architecture at the University of Southern California before working for Mr….

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