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"Alan Hess [is] a prominent California architecture critic who has written extensively on roadside strips," writes the New York Times (March 6, 1994). Through 2012, Alan has written and/or co-authored nineteen books, published numerous articles on the architecture of Googie, Las Vegas, Frank Lloyd Wright, Oscar Niemeyer, John Lautner, Ranch Houses, Palm Springs, Organic architecture, Mid-century Modern design, and suburbia. He has been the architecture critic for the San Jose Mercury News since 1986.
Born in California in 1952, Hess received his BA at Principia College, a master's degree in architecture from the UCLA School of the Arts and Architecture, and is a licensed architect. After working with architects William Coburn, and Callister Payne and Bischoff, Hess started his own firm specializing in residential work and historic preservation. His first book, Googie: Fifties Coffee Shop Architecture (Chronicle Books 1985) focused on a neglected and popular Modern form. Following books continued to explore overlooked chapters in twentieth-century architecture and urbanism. He is responsible for qualifying several landmark buildings for the National Register of Historic Places, including the oldest operating McDonald's in Downey, Stuart Company Plant and Office Building and Bullock's Pasadena in Pasadena, and the Hotel Valley Ho in Scottsdale, Arizona.
- Googie: Fifties Coffee Shop Architecture (Chronicle Books, 1985)
- Viva Las Vegas: After-Hours Architecture (Chronicle Books, 1993)
- Hyperwest: American Residential Architecture on the Edge (Whitney Library of Design, 1996)
- The Architecture of John Lautner (Rizzoli, 1999)
- Rancho Deluxe (Chronicle Books, 2000)
- Palm Springs Weekend: The Architecture and Design of a Midcentury Oasis. San Francisco, CA: Chronicle Books. 2001. p. 180. ISBN 9780811828048. (coauthor: Andrew Danish)
- Googie Redux: Ultramodern Roadside Architecture (Chronicle Books, 2004)
- The Ranch House (H.N. Abrams, 2004)
- Organic Architecture: The Other Modernism (Gibbs Smith, 2006)
- Frank Lloyd Wright: Houses (Rizzoli, 2006)
- Frank Lloyd Wright: the Buildings (Rizzoli, 2008)
- Frank Lloyd Wright: Mid-Century Modern (Rizzoli, 2008)
- Frank Lloyd Wright: Prairie Houses (Rizzoli, 2006)
- Oscar Niemeyer Houses (Rizzoli, 2006)
- Oscar Niemeyer Buildings (Rizzoli, 2009)
- Forgotten Modern: California Houses 1940-1970 (Gibbs Smith, 2008)
- Casa Modernista: A History of the Brazil Modern House (Rizzoli, 2010)
- Julius Shulman: Palm Springs (Rizzoli, 2008) (coauthor: Michael Stern)
- Frank Lloyd Wright: Natural Design, Organic Architecture (Rizzoli, 2012)
- Sulek, Julia Prodis (June 8, 2011). "Iconic design for Apple headquarters could transform Silicon Valley landscape". San Jose Mercury News. Retrieved 20 August 2011.
- "STRIPPING THE STRIP OF ITS LANDMARKS". Daily News of Los Angeles. October 24, 1993. Retrieved 20 August 2011.