Los Angeles and Rancho Santa Fe might look a lot different today had it not been for the work of Ray Watt, pioneer and innovator in the development industry who did much to define the look of modern L.A. He died one year ago.
During his six decade career, Watt built more than 100,000 single-family homes, mostly in the San Fernando Valley, the South Bay and the Westside. He also developed other types of property, including industrial centers.
Among his best-known projects were Watt Plaza, a two-tower office complex in Century City, and Fairbanks Ranch, a luxury housing development in Rancho Santa Fe.
Watt was named Builder of the Year from the Building Industry Assn. of California in 1968. He also became a trustee of USC in 1967 and contributed to the school for years. Watt Hall of Architecture and Fine Arts is named after him.
Watt began his career by taking advantage of the housing shortage after World War II as GIs were coming home. Along with his brother, Don, he built a mobile home park in 1946, working with a small crew and a battered pickup truck.
He continued his work into the 1990s, though he took time out during President Nixon’s first term to serve as assistant secretary of Housing and Urban Development.
For more, read Ray Watt’s obituary by The Times.