Gálvez House, Mexico City, 1955. Living room window.
Photo Armando Salas Portugal

The house built for the Gálvez family in Chimalistac is located on a rectangular plot extending over 2,200 square metres, which was originally part of the orchards surrounding the ancient Convento del Carmen. The design puts a particular focus on the garden and the walled enclosure between the cobbled street and the house, two open spaces that play an essential role in the way the interior layout sequentially unfolds.

10 Calle Pimentel, Colonia Chimalistac, Mexico City
1955
Villa

Two preliminary design variants explore alternatives for the layout of the house and its placement on the plot. The volume containing the living areas, which extends across the width of the site, is set back from the street boundary to the west, while a wing containing the service areas is positioned parallel to the northern border of the property. This basic volumetric scheme is then shifted slightly forward, thereby reducing the front yard in order to maximize the size of the garden at the rear of the lot.

Gálvez House, Mexico City, 1955. Ground floor plan.

The final layout is documented in a set of plans, sections and elevations, complemented by a perspective view of the house as seen from the garden. These drawings incorporate various adjustments that more precisely articulate the internal and external spaces – as well as the transitional areas already outlined in the preliminary design. Further modifications were introduced by Barragán during the construction process, a few of which became iconic features.

The front yard is organized in two distinct zones: a driveway with parking for two cars and a walled patio. A small, detached room for a caretaker is positioned between these two spaces, separating the vehicular access and the entrance gate. The latter is set slightly back to align with the western perimeter wall, which originally followed the angled street but was reoriented in the final plan to run parallel to the house’s front elevation. The two staggered sections of the wall are linked by a square threshold with a flat canopy, which extends inside to cover the paved passage leading to the house entrance. The living areas remain mostly unchanged compared to the preliminary design; slight adjustments to the service wing simplify the layout and circulation. A few alterations to the bedrooms result in a system of transitional areas linking them to each other and their respective bathrooms, while at the same time reducing surplus space. This general revision process is also reflected in the careful definition of the room heights, which are in keeping with the various residential functions.

The interventions implemented during construction mainly concerned the definition of key views, circulation routes, the system of enclosures and visual screens, and the plantings, all intended to bring cohesiveness to the design. One major change affecting the volumetric composition of the north wing resulted from the decision not to build a loggia and corresponding first-floor master suite on the east end. Instead, only a freestanding wall extends into the garden, concealing a patio behind it. Paved in dark lava stone, this secluded space features a raised water basin on its south side. A full-height masonry screen to the west shields the access to the service areas.

Gálvez House, Mexico City, 1955. Preliminary perspective view from the garden.

To the south, the wall that runs the full length of the garden is painted in a bright pink hue. Before it meets the house, the height of this masonry wall rises in a vertical step to reach the top of the facade. The same pink colour extends around the corner to the glazed opening of the living room. This colour field is framed by the projecting roof and a side wall, both painted a warm yellow ochre, while the rest of the facade is white. At the east end of the garden, a high vertical wall is finished in a cool bright blue. Conceived to be seen from the living room, this element gives depth to the view and simultaneously contrasts with the house’s exterior palette and the greenery of the lawn and surrounding vegetation.

On the front side of the plot, the house entrance and patio underwent a similar process of revision during the construction phase. The vestibule was enlarged to include the staircase, and the remaining side space was transformed into a roughly square reception room, which gives way to the library and living room. One relevant addition, in particular, consisted in a rectangular water basin positioned along the front exterior wall next to the floor-to-ceiling window illuminating the new reception room. Two full-height walls, painted bright pink, enclose the north and west sides of the basin, thus creating an intimate, screened space. Seen from inside, this orthogonal niche appears to be framed by the window’s thin cruciform mullions, which are inserted flush with the facade. The brim of the overflowing basin is set level with the interior floor, allowing the water surface to reflect the vibrant expanse of the sky – heightened by the colour of the walls – into the room.

Gálvez House, Mexico City, 1955. Recessed fountain; view from the living room’s antechamber.
Photo Armando Salas Portugal
Gálvez House, Mexico City, 1955. Recessed fountain.
Photo Armando Salas Portugal
Gálvez House, Mexico City, 1955. Detail of pre-existing tree, integrated into the paved area.
Photo Armando Salas Portugal
Gálvez House, Mexico City, 1955. East wing with extended longitudinal wall; view from the garden.
Photo Armando Salas Portugal
Gálvez House, Mexico City, 1955. Side patio behind the longitudinal wall.
Photo Armando Salas Portugal

As it unfolds, the internal spatial sequence is modulated by transitional elements as well as the careful combinations of materials, textures and colours chosen for the different areas. In particular, despite the physical separation created by doors and windows, the treatment of horizontal and vertical planes works to integrate interior and exterior. While on the floor level the rough volcanic stone paving runs seamlessly from the gate to the house entrance and then across the vestibule to the staircase, the ochre yellow specified for the living room ceiling also continues outside, where it covers the projecting roof and short wall screening the large glazed opening that looks out on the garden.

The welcoming sense of balance and intimacy that pervades the interiors of the Gálvez House is a distinguishing characteristic of Barragán’s finest works, relying on the precise selection and combination of a few high-quality materials and finishes. Traditional petates (hand-woven palm-leaf mats) thrown over the wooden floors, curtains in rough cotton, monochrome upholstery fabrics in linen and other natural fibres all complement the overall arrangement of basic furnishings. These were either procured at local markets and workshops or designed by Barragán himself to harmonize with the architecture. A few expressive pieces of folk art are attractively juxtaposed with the refined collection of contemporary Mexican painting accumulated by the owners over the years, starting with Diego Rivera’s masterpiece Desnudo con alcatraces and subsequently augmented with important works by Pedro Coronel, which were especially conceived for the house. In later years, only minor adaptations to the bedrooms on the upper floor were made in consultation with the architect, leaving the residence virtually unaltered since its completion. As such, the project is among the few realized masterpieces that remain true to Barragán’s original specifications and spirit.

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Chapala, State of Jalisco
1934
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Collaborating engineer: Juan Palomar y Arias
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ca. 1934
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Townhouse
Guadalajara, State of Jalisco
ca. 1934
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1934
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Guadalajara, State of Jalisco
1934
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Townhouse
Collaborating engineer: Ramón Hermosillo
Guadalajara, State of Jalisco
1934–1935
Parque de la Revolución
Landscape design
In collaboration with Juan José Barragán
Partially demolished
Guadalajara, State of Jalisco
1934–1935
Cine Jalisco
Cinema
In collaboration with Juan José Barragán
Guadalajara, State of Jalisco
1935
Houses for José T. Sauza
Study
Realization unknown
Guadalajara, State of Jalisco
1936
Barragán Apartment
Interior design
Mexico City
ca. 1936
Houses in Avenida Mazatlán
Townhouses
Mexico City
1936
Houses in Avenida Parque México
Semi-detached residences
Mexico City
1936
House in Calle Guadiana
Townhouse
Mexico City
1936
House in Avenida Tamaulipas
Townhouse
Demolished
Mexico City
1936–1937, 1940
Pizarro Suárez House
Villa
Mexico City
1937–1940
Amatitán Parish Church
Religious; renovation, extension
In collaboration with Ignacio Díaz Morales
Amatitán, State of Jalisco
ca. 1937
Villaseñor House
Villa
Collaborating architect: Antonio Ramos Salido
Demolished
Mexico City
1939–1940; mid 1940s
González Gallo House
Villa; extension
Collaborating engineer: José Creixell
Mexico City
Late 1930s
Apartment Building in Calles Lerma and Guadiana
Mixed-use
Demolished
Mexico City
ca. 1939
Two Apartment Buildings in Calle Elba
Mixed-use
Partially demolished
Mexico City
ca. 1939
Apartment Building for Raoul Sánchez and Margarita J. de Sánchez
Mixed-use
Collaborating engineer: José Creixell
Mexico City
1939
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Mixed-use
Collaborating engineer: José Creixell
Mexico City
1939–1940
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Mixed-use and townhouses
Collaborating engineer: José Creixell
Mexico City
1939–1940
Apartment Building for Lorenzo Garza
Mixed-use
Collaborating engineer: José Creixell
Mexico City
1939–1940
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Residential
Collaborating architect: Max Cetto; collaborating engineer: José Creixell
Mexico City
1939–1941
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Townhouse; consultancy
Mexico City
Late 1930s
House in Avenida Nuevo León
Townhouse
Mexico City
1940
Apartment Building for Concepción Ribot
Mixed-use
Collaborating engineer: José Creixell
Demolished
Mexico City
1940
Apartment Building and House for Alfonso Barragán
Residential and Townhouse
Collaborating engineer: José Creixell
The house is demolished
Mexico City
ca. 1940
Chávez Peón de Ochoa House
Townhouse
Collaborating engineer: José Creixell
Mexico City
1940
Apartment Building for Carmen García Rulfo de Cristo
Mixed-use
Collaborating engineer: José Creixell
Mexico City
1940–1941
Apartment Building for José Mojica
Mixed-use
Collaborating architect: Antonio Ramos Salido; collaborating engineer: José Creixell
Mexico City
ca. 1940
Apartment Building at 14 Parque Melchor Ocampo
Mixed-use
Collaborating engineer: José Creixell
Mexico City
1940–1941
El Arenal Parish Church
Religious; renovation
In collaboration with Ignacio Díaz Morales
El Arenal, State of Jalisco
Early 1940s
González Gallo House in Cuernavaca
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Cuernavaca, State of Morelos
1940–1941
Terrenos Madereros
Subdivision
Mexico City
1941–1943
Barragán House and Gardens at 20 Calle Francisco Ramírez
Townhouse; renovation, extension, landscape design
Also known as Ortega House
Mexico City
Mid 1940s
Bermúdez Garden
Landscape design
In collaboration with Xavier Guerrero
Realization unknown
1943–1945
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Landscape design
Demolished
Mexico City
1945–1952
Jardines del Pedregal
Urban development
Collaborating urban planner: Carlos Contreras Elizondo
Mexico City
Late 1940s, mid 1950s
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Townhouses; renovation
Realization unknown
Mexico City
Late 1940s
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Townhouse
Mexico City
Late 1940s
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Townhouse
Unbuilt
Mexico City
1948
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Townhouse
Mexico City
1948–1951
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Villa
Mexico City
1949–1950
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Villas
In collaboration with Max Cetto
Partially demolished
Mexico City
1953–1955, 1966
Majahua
Subdivision, holiday house
Manzanillo, State of Colima
1953
El Zócalo
Urban design
Partially realized
Mexico City
1953
Pedestrian Underpasses
Urban design
Unbuilt
Mexico City
Mid 1950s
Avenida Florencia and Avenida Sevilla
Urban design
Unbuilt
Mexico City
1954
Parque Azteca
Landscape design
Unbuilt
Mexico City
1954–1963
Capuchin Convent Chapel
Religious; extension, renovation
Mexico City
1955
Gálvez House
Villa
Mexico City
1955
Hotel Pierre Marqués Gardens
Landscape design
Acapulco, State of Guerrero
Mid 1950s
Punta Diamante
Subdivision
Unbuilt
Acapulco, State of Guerrero
Mid 1950s
Calle Pedrera
Subdivision
Realization unknown
Acapulco, State of Guerrero
1955–1958
Jardines del Bosque
Guadalajara, State of Jalisco
Guadalajara, State of Jalisco
Mid 1950s
Roundabout and Fountain in Parque de la Revolución
Urban design
Unbuilt
Guadalajara, State of Jalisco
Mid 1950s
Linda Vista
Subdivision, villa
Realization unknown
Guadalajara, State of Jalisco
1956
Apartment in Calle Guadiana
Renovation
Realization unknown
Mexico City
1956
Plaza del Cigarro
Urban design
Mexico City
1957
Torres de Satélite
Urban design
In collaboration with Mathias Goeritz
Naucalpan de Juárez, State of Mexico
Late 1950s
Club in Ciudad Satélite
Sports complex
Unbuilt
Naucalpan de Juárez, State of Mexico
Late 1950s
Apartment Buildings in Ciudad Satélite
Mixed-use
Unbuilt
Naucalpan de Juárez, State of Mexico
1957–1962
Las Arboledas
Urban development
Collaborating engineer: Pablo González López
Atizapán de Zaragoza, State of Mexico
Late 1950s
La Cañada
Subdivision
Collaborating engineer: Pablo González López; collaborating architect: Leopoldo I. Maldonado
Unbuilt
Mexico City
Late 1950s–early 1960s
Olas Altas
Subdivision
Unbuilt
Manzanillo, State of Colima
Late 1950s–mid 1960s
Santiago Yacht and Country Club
Tourism development
Realization unknown
Manzanillo, State of Colima
Late 1950s
Calvario Chapel
Religious
Construction differs from Barragán’s design
Guadalajara, State of Jalisco
ca. 1960
Santa Cruz Sanctuary
Religious; extension
Collaborating architect: Javier Guido Dorantes
Unbuilt
Mexico City
ca. 1960
Senderos House
Villa
Unbuilt
Cuernavaca, State of Morelos
1960
Mexico City Expansion
Study
Valley of Mexico, State of Mexico
1961
Apartment Building at 17 Calle Francisco Ramírez
Residential
Unbuilt
Mexico City
Early 1960s–mid 1960s
Punta Bruja
Subdivision, residential
Realization unknown
Acapulco, State of Guerrero
1961–1962, 1966–1967
Club Hípico Francés
Equestrian complex
Partially realized
Atizapán de Zaragoza, State of Mexico
Early 1960s
Cross-Country Racecourse
Landscape design
Atizapán de Zaragoza, State of Mexico
1961–1966
Los Clubes
Residential development
Atizapán de Zaragoza, State of Mexico
Early 1960s
Plaza de las Atarjeas
Landscape design
Realization unknown
1962
Suinaga de Siles House
Villa
Unbuilt
Mexico City
Early 1960s
Lundahl House
Villa; extension
Realization unknown
Mexico City
1962
San Mateo Tecoloapan Parish Church
Religious; renovation, extension
Unbuilt
Atizapán de Zaragoza, State of Mexico
1963
Subdivision in Chapala
Study
Realization unknown
Chapala, State of Jalisco
Mid 1960s
Condominio Horizontal
Semi-detached residences
Unbuilt
Atizapán de Zaragoza, State of Mexico
Mid 1960s
Villa Olímpica
Residential complex
Collaborating architect: Andrés Casillas
Unbuilt
Mexico City
1964–1967
Lomas Verdes
Urban development
In collaboration with Juan Sordo Madaleno; collaborating architect: José Adolfo Wiechers
Partially realized
Naucalpan de Juárez, State of Mexico
1965–1966
Salk Institute Courtyard
Landscape design; consultancy
Barragán’s input is incorporated in Kahn’s final design of the Salk Institute
La Jolla, State of California, USA
1965–1966
Cobre de México
Landscape design
Developed in connection with the housing complex by architect Juan Sordo Madaleno
Mexico City
1965–1967
La Alteña
Residential development
In collaboration with Juan Sordo Madaleno, collaborating architect: Andrés Casillas
Naucalpan de Juárez, State of Mexico
1965–1968, 1971–1972
La Alteña Chapel
Religious
First phase developed in collaboration with Juan Sordo Madaleno
Naucalpan de Juárez, State of Mexico
1966–1968
Cuadra San Cristóbal
Villa, equestrian complex, landscape design
In collaboration with Andrés Casillas
Atizapán de Zaragoza, State of Mexico
1966, 1970–1971
Covarrubias House
Villa; extension; subdivision
Mexico City
1967
Chicago Historical Society
Consultancy
Chicago, State of Illinois, USA
1968, 1972
Los Puentes
Subdivision
Unbuilt
Tepotzotlán, State of Mexico
1968
Cross-Shaped Towers
Study
Realization unknown
1969–1971
Granjas de Tepotzotlán
Residential development
Unbuilt
Tepotzotlán, State of Mexico
1969
Barragán Gortázar House
Townhouse
Naucalpan de Juárez, State of Mexico
Late 1960s
Bugambilias
Equestrian complex
Realization unknown
Guadalajara, State of Jalisco
Late 1960s
Bugambilias Chapel
Religious
Realization unknown
Guadalajara, State of Jalisco
Late 1960s–early 1970s
San Miguel
Residential development
Atizapán de Zaragoza, State of Mexico
Late 1960s
Granjas Margaritas
Subdivision
Realization unknown
Cuautitlán Izcalli, State of Mexico
1970
Zueta Moreno
Subdivision
Realization unknown
Mexico City
1971–1972
Edificio Símbolo
Mixed-use complex
Collaborating architect: Andrés Casillas
Unbuilt
Naucalpan de Juárez, State of Mexico
1971, 1975
Plaza Oval
Urban design, apartment buildings
Unbuilt
Ecatepec de Morelos, State of Mexico
1971
Calle Soledad
Subdivision
Realization unknown
Mexico City
1972
Fountain in Ciudad Satélite
Urban design
Realization unknown
Naucalpan de Juárez, State of Mexico
1972–1973
Fuente Roja
Urban design
In collaboration with Ricardo Legorreta
Unbuilt
Naucalpan de Juárez, State of Mexico
1972
El Morro
Residential development
Unbuilt
Tepotzotlán, State of Mexico
1972
Neighbourhood Entrance in Lomas Verdes
Urban design
Realization unknown
Naucalpan de Juárez, State of Mexico
1972–1974
El Palomar
Urban development
Collaborating architect: Raúl Ferrera
Unbuilt
Palomar, State of Jalisco
1974
García Robles House
Villa
In collaboration with Andrés Casillas
Unbuilt
Mexico City
1975–1977
Gilardi House
Townhouse
Mexico City
1975–1977
Bernal Molina House
Villa
Construction differs from Barragán’s design
Mexico City
1976
House at 12 Calle Francisco Ramírez
Renovation; study
Unbuilt
Mexico City
1976–1977
Serrano
Residential development, villa
Unbuilt
Edinburg, State of Texas, USA
1977
Suárez House
Villa
Project by Luis Barragán and Raúl Ferrera
Realization unknown
Mexico City
1977
Harris Bank
Interior design
Project by Luis Barragán and Raúl Ferrera
Mexico City
1978
Office for Bruno Newman
Interior design
Project by Luis Barragán and Raúl Ferrera
Realization unknown
Mexico City
1978
Centro Tane
Interior design
Realization unknown
Mexico City
1978
Torre de Fuego
Urban design
Project by Luis Barragán and Raúl Ferrera
Unbuilt
Monterrey, State of Nuevo León
1978–1980
Meyer House
Villa
Also known as Garate House
Mexico City
1979
Cecurfic
Mixed-use complex
Project by Luis Barragán and Raúl Ferrera
Unbuilt
Monterrey, State of Nuevo León
1979
Fundición Office Building
Mixed-use
Project by Luis Barragán and Raúl Ferrera
Unbuilt
Mexico City
1979
Silver Tower
Sculpture
Project by Luis Barragán and Raúl Ferrera
1979
El Remanso
Urban design
Project by Luis Barragán and Raúl Ferrera
Unbuilt
Monterrey, State of Nuevo León
1979
Muralla China
Apartment complex
Project by Luis Barragán and Raúl Ferrera
Unbuilt
Manzanillo, State of Colima
1979, 1982, 1984
Barragán + Ferrera office
Interior design
Project by Barragán + Ferrera
Mexico City
1979–1982
Casa del Pelícano
Villa
Project by Barragán + Ferrera
Unbuilt
Manzanillo, State of Colima
1979–1982
Visa
Corporate complex
Project by Barragán + Ferrera
Unbuilt
Monterrey, State of Nuevo León
1979–1980
Capuchin Convent Wing
Religious; extension
Project by Barragán + Ferrera
Unbuilt
Mexico City
1980
Doral Park Country Club
Mixed-use complex
Project by Barragán + Ferrera
Unbuilt
Doral, State of Florida, USA
1980–1982
Garza Laguera Penthouse
Interior design
Project by Barragán + Ferrera
Partially realized
Mexico City
1980–1981
Development in Cancún
Study
Project by Barragán + Ferrera
Unbuilt
Cancún, State of Quintana Roo
1981
Golf Club in Manzanillo
Sports complex
Project by Barragán + Ferrera
Unbuilt
Manzanillo, State of Colima
1981–1986
Valdés House
Villa
Project by Barragán + Ferrera
Monterrey, State of Nuevo León
1981
Puerta de Oro
Urban design
Project by Barragán + Ferrera
Unbuilt
Monterrey, State of Nuevo León
1981–1982
Placa Roja
Urban design
Project by Barragán + Ferrera
Unbuilt
Monterrey, State of Nuevo León
1981–1982
Calvin Klein Stores
Retail; study
Project by Barragán + Ferrera; collaborating designers: Benjamin Baldwin and Jonathan Warwick
Unbuilt
1982–1983
Coppola House
Villa, mixed-use complex, landscape design
Project by Barragán + Ferrera
Unbuilt
Rutherford, Napa Valley, State of California, USA
1982
Peña House
Subdivision, villa
Project by Barragán + Ferrera
Unbuilt
Santiago, State of Nuevo León
1982
Baldwin House
Villa
Project by Barragán + Ferrera
Unbuilt
Sarasota, Florida, USA
1982–1984
Faro del Comercio
Urban design
Project by Barragán + Ferrera
Monterrey, State of Nuevo León
1982
Montalbán House
Villa
Project by Barragán + Ferrera
Unbuilt
Los Angeles, State of California, USA
1983
Dance School
Educational
Project by Barragán + Ferrera
Realization unknown
Location unknown
1983–1985
Barragán Retrospective
Exhibition design
Project by Barragán + Ferrera
Museo Rufino Tamayo, Mexico City
1984–1987
Los Palos Grandes
Villa; renovation
Project by Barragán + Ferrera
Realization unknown
Caracas, Venezuela
1984–1985
Caballero House
Villa
Project by Barragán + Ferrera
Gómez Palacio, State of Durango
1984–1987
Menil Guesthouse
Mixed-use residence
Project by Barragán + Ferrera
Unbuilt
Houston, State of Texas, USA
1984–1985
Sumner Peck
Urban design
Project by Barragán + Ferrera
Unbuilt
Madera, State of California, USA
1984
Morrissey House
Villa
Project by Barragán + Ferrera
Unbuilt
Southampton, State of New York, USA
1984–1986
Monterrey and Butaca Chairs
Furniture design
Project by Barragán + Ferrera
1985–1986
Carver
Mixed-use complex
Project by Barragán + Ferrera; collaborating engineers: Morse Consulting Group
Unbuilt
Palm Desert, State of California, USA
1986
Chick’n Taco
Retail
Project by Barragán + Ferrera
Realization unknown
Location unknown
1986–1987
Borja House
Villa
Project by Barragán + Ferrera; collaborating architect: Ángel Borja Navarrete
Realization unknown
Mexico City
1987
Toro de Bronce Fountain
Landscape design
Project by Barragán + Ferrera; sculpture by Juan Soriano
Villahermosa, State of Tabasco
1987
Gibert Penthouse
Interior design
Project by Barragán + Ferrera
Realization unknown
Mexico City
1987–1994
Bel-Air Divertimento
Landscape design
Project by Barragán + Ferrera
Completed posthumously by landscape architects Lawrence Reed Moline
Los Angeles, State of California, USA