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THE Lss Angeles F RUM FOR ARCHITECTURE AND URBAN DESIGN 835 NORTH I!:INGS ROA D W EST HO LL YWOOD C A 900 69 NEWSLETTER September 1992 IN THIS ISSUE: Experimental Architecture in Los Angeles introductIOn by Fr ank Gehry essays by Aaron Betskv. John Chase . Leon Whi te sOfl IRlllOIl. Los Angeles Forum lor ArCfl'lecwre and Urba n DesIgn: New Yor k, Los Angeles. 1992 ) Reviewed and Reconsidered UPCOMING EVENTS : ALTERNAT IVE DISDRDERS A series of discussions rega rding new community initiatives for inner-city LA Dates TSA WHOSE BEACH PARTY IS THIS ANYWAY?JOHN CHASE LETTER FROM VIENNA TEREN CE RILE Y Curator. Deparrmenr of ArC;Jltecture and Design The Museum of Modern An ARCHITECTURE AND ITS AUDIENCE suspl~ctthatl was asked 10 review ExperrmentaJArctll/ecture Los Angeles and ilS essays by Aaron Belsky. John Chase. and leon Whi le I In In the Los Angeles of the 19905. a lim ited view of the architect's role , and a lim ited vIew of Ihe region's architec tural and urban context. have dangerously narrowed both the public and critical unde rstanding of archit ecture's nature as a social art. Southern California is seen as lacking botn in recogn izable bUilding types and clearly defined urban form . As a result, mUCh Importance is placed on the indi Vidual artifact, wh ile far less atten tion is devoted to the relat ionship between the artifact and urban forms surround ing It As Ste fanos Polyzo ldes has pOinted out. "Increasingly bUildings here are a kind of selfish scream for attention . Everything has to be a th ing in Itself . The attitude about oneness has spawned such an Interest in fashion," Wh ile It IS true that Los Angeles IS lightly perce ived to be a place that IS open to new Ideas. personal expreSSion, and expenmentatlon. the current architectu ral avant-garde seems less Interested In re laung the ir work 10 th iS tradit ion of innovallon In a meaningful way than In uSing th iS tradit ion as a licence to make the Kind of photogeniC objec ts thaI get good press , ThiS essay IS a ca ll fo r cfl\ica l atten tion to the broad I_b Ing types that. In l os Angeles, sprawl from the mall to carow sh and I at , r,e-a villua_b l~ candidates fo r evaluation and ~ , --=;,- - r- ,= Wh,teson in order to provide an "East Coas t " POin t of view. these commen tS are being written dUring a brief stay In Vienna. The change Ifl venue Isn' t altoge ther Inappropriate: perhaos more than New York. Vienna represents the counterpoint to Schindler and Neutra's city of Ihe fu ture . In thiS and other trips here I have found that most diSCUSSions aboul Viennese architectur e are necessarily ellipticalIhal ls. the bwader Question of Vienna's cul tural structure cannot be long Ignored. Ref lections on the architecture of los Angeles would seem to have the same Imperative-that IS. Ihe three essays m Expeflmema l Archllec/ure are. fo r the most pa rI. more cul tural analySIS than StriCt architec tural CritiCism The essays represent. on one hand. the refinemen t of certam accepled OOSlllons on the cultura l flux of Southern California. I'm th inking o j Betst<;y's "Adam-as-surfer I man-machine satyr" duality In th iS mstance . Similarly . Wh,teson's borrowmg of the term "flrst growt h" from the language of forestry. is particularly useful In understandin g l os Angeles ' overlappmg patterns of growth-decayreju ve nation Other elements of the essays go beyond histOrically developed analyses and prov,de a preSCient contemporaneous view conrinu ed on page 3 F co nrZ'n e2...!!.!.! p age 6 ~-L . Jane k B!e l sk l The Desert Pr OJ ect Sec tion ' ~~ ~ LL=Ilâ&#x20AC;˘ : -~~ O-IN-~ 7 ~ :O LE~S-S-E-R--â&#x20AC;˘ j ~ .uJUJ ~_ \ M .A rr. 1 studem. UCLA t5J."11 ,L A-RelY IT ECT U REI N LOS ANGELES What ma kes arChit ect ure "e xpe rimental]" According to this publicat ion, it appears to be popula rity. fas hion, and li nkage to Frank Geh ry and the Morphosis crowd . This defin ition is useful in that it provides important insigh t into the values of the cur rertt architecture " scene," but it is not a def init ion that shoul d be accepted wit hout critical comment or theore tical elaboration. Whi le the boo k's essays imply ihat architec ture is more than bea utiful deta ils and formal man ipu lat ion and attempt to address the influences of technology, con text and vernaculars on archi tecture, the connect ion to the w ork in the pu blicatio n is strained The lay-out. which surgically iso lates text f ro m image. further strain s the relationshi p and keeps the book fro m ack nowledg ing open ly its role as a fu rtherer of young careers and a catalog of architectural fashions In the end . Experimental Architecture not only perpetu-ates the "scene's" values but also precludes t he possibility of developing a more considered definition of what might constitu te experimental architecture, con tinue d on p age 2

Newsletter, September 1992

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