Born in LaSalle, Illinois, Albert C. Martin received his Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Illinois and began his career as a draftsman at Brown-Ketcham Iron Works in Indianapolis, Indiana. He worked in his early career in steel and iron for the Pennsylvania Railroad and Cambria Steel Company. In 1904, Martin moved to Los Angeles, where he worked as a construction superintendent for Carl Leonardt & Company. He next went to work as an structural engineer for Alfred Rosenheim, one of the city’s leading architects.
One of Mr. Martin’s most noted achievement was the design and construction of the Los Angeles City Hall. Commissioned in 1926. This iconic landmark went from an idea to a finished building in an incredible 30 months. Validated by an architectural survey, it remained the tallest building in Western America for the next 3 decades. In all, Martin and his associates designed some 1,500 buildings.
Mr. Martin was a genius in the field of Structural Engineering particularly with elastic strength computation and the application of flexural formulas. The Million Dollar Theater at 307 S. Broadway in downtown Los Angeles was an early example of his reinforced concrete designs. Completed in 1918, the long span balcony was so advanced for its day, that the owner was compelled to prove its integrity with a test load of sandbags amounting to over twice its design strength. For many years the twelve-story office tower was the home of the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California.
The May Company Wilshire department store, completed in 1939, was another Los Angeles city icon. Because of its proximity to the La Brea tar pits, it was necessary to design it base as a free floating slab foundation. This was another example of Martin’s innovative approach to engineering design challenges. It is now part of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.