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GLANCE oct 2011

TOXIC BEAUTY

The Way Through LA

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THE

CITY

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EPIC

ARCHITECTURE

ROSIE HUNTINGTONWHITELEY


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October 2011 04

From the Editor

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Product

Travelers guide to the city

The choices men make determine the type of men they are.

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The City

Los Angeles. From the street life to the high life. The heart of the city beats to every different persona.

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Through the Lens

Architecture as seen through the eyes of Julius Shulman.

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Epic Architecture

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Toxic Beauty

Frank Gehry and the Walt Disney Concert Hall. Its monumental image in Los Angeles.

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Only Here

Finishing the good with the even better.

The price of looking good may be higher than you think.

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OCT 2011

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GLANCE TRILLION NGUYEN Editor-in-Chief

TRILLION NGUYEN Editor-in-Chief

TRILLION NGUYEN Editor-in-Chief

TRILLION NGUYEN Editor-in-Chief

TRILLION NGUYEN Editor-in-Chief

TRILLION NGUYEN Editor-in-Chief

TRILLION NGUYEN Editor-in-Chief

TRILLION NGUYEN Editor-in-Chief

TRILLION NGUYEN Editor-in-Chief

TRILLION NGUYEN Editor-in-Chief

TRILLION NGUYEN Editor-in-Chief

TRILLION NGUYEN Editor-in-Chief

TRILLION NGUYEN Editor-in-Chief

TRILLION NGUYEN Editor-in-Chief


FROM THE EDITOR

how

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got here Attention to detail. Appeal to sense. Appreciation for authenticty. The central element of my work is based on these motifs that have generated my own personal style. Born and raised in southern California, I grew up in an enviornment where there was a signifcant lack of originality that served as the foundation for the birth of all art, music, and fashion. I’m constantly comparing myself, my style, and my work to my surroundings, regardless of the quality or value linked to each comparison. Instead of dwelling on multiple accounts of “what if’s”, I decided to pursue graphic design. Soon enough, it’s the only thing I wanted to do. I wanted to take graphic design beyond the extent of it’s assumed limitations. Those of us who strive is due to our fearless approach towards competition. But the validation of one’s successs is only defined if achieved with integrity. Sincerely,

trillion nguyen

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r t Sat Order Dessert or a Second Glass of Wine? By Sally Wadyka

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etter choice: dessert Sweet tooths, rejoice! While no one is suggesting that it›s healthy to eat a rich dessert, the research is pretty clear: Women should have no more than one drink a day. “There›s some evidence that moderate alcohol intake lowers the risk of heart disease, but one a day is considered the limit for women,” says JoAnn Manson, chief of preventive medicine at Boston’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital. (Some experts say that having two a couple of days a week is OK.)

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There are other problems with alcohol, even in moderation. “Alcohol consumption is associated with an increased risk of breast cancer,” says Heather Spencer Feigelson, Ph.D., a senior epidemiologist at the American Cancer Society, in Atlanta. “And while the risk of breast cancer from one glass of alcohol is small, I’d choose dessert over a second cocktail.” But… Since being overweight also raises the risk of breast cancer, as well as of diabetes and heart disease, go easy on the dessert. Sorbet or even a fruit

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Start R

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TRAVEL

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southern california

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SavorFlavor the

hen I first saw this recipe I knew it had to be good, just reading through the list of ingredients you can’t help but be intrigued. The Bombay Sapphire infusion of apples and pears are echoed in the cider and brandy, then there is absinthe and ginger beer for contrasting but complimentary flavors, and on top of all that the unique addition of Fee Brother Aztec Chocolate bitters. This is certainly not a boring cocktail. It shows off some of the trendy flavors and techniques that ar e hot and is a great example of the modern mixology at its finest. Adam Schuman of New York’s Fatty Crab did a great job creating here. Ingredients:

* 1.5 oz. Bombay Sapphire infused with dried pear and apples (click for recipe) * 1/2 oz. Lucid absinthe * 1 oz. local apple cider * 1/2 oz. pear brandy (Adam recommends: Massenez Williams Poire Brandy) * 1/2 oz. fresh lemon juice * 2 dashes Fee Brothers Aztec Chocolate bitters * Ginger beer * cinnamon stick for garnish * lemon peel for garnish Preparation: 1. Pour the ingredients into a cocktail shaker with ice cubes. 2. Shake well. 3. Strain into a highball glass filled with ice. 4. Garnish with a lemon peel and cinnamon stick.

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DRINK

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Jayna nuqui


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ne reason to love studying

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PERSONALITY

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THE LIFE + TIMES

LA in

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www.GLANCEMAGAZINE.com www.GLANCEMAGAZINE.com OCT 2011

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the makers of men

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the HEART

ofthe "In Los Angeles, by the time you're thirty-five, you're older than most of the buildings." - Delia Ephron

City

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It’s a town after all. Seen at night by air, the city seems a large bracelet of lights and pools. It is only 500 square miles but it feels larger. Divided into 80 districts and neighborhoods, at first the city seems disjointed, a bewildering terrain of mountains and valleys that ultimately touch the sea. Second in population to only New York City, Los Angeles could not be more different. One can still hide in the shadows and hills of a vast LA sunset. And more and more people choose to live here, ignoring the proclamation of Woody Allen in Annie Hall “that I don’t want to move to a city where the only cultural advantage is being able to make a right turn on a red light.”

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JULIUS SHULMAN

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Through the Lens by Trillion Nguyen

E

ven if you’re confused by the fork in the driveway, which slopes up to the Edenic apex of Laurel Canyon, or don’t recognize architect Raphael Soriano’s mid-century design landmark, you can’t miss Julius Shulman’s place. It’s the one with the eight-foot-high banner bearing his name—an advertisement for his 2005 Getty Museum exhibition “Modernity and the Metropolis”—hanging before the door to the studio adjoining the house. As displays of ego go, it’s hard to beat. Yet the voice calling out from behind it is friendly, even eager—“Come on in!” And drawing back the banner, one finds, not a monument, but a man: behind an appealingly messy desk, wearing blue suspenders and specs with lenses as big as Ring Dings, and offering a smile of roguish beatitude.

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"

pictures, and unending requests for reprints, and you have an artist whose talent, timing, ubiquity, and sheer staying power have buried the competition—in some cases, literally. Shulman’s decision to call it quits in 1986 was  motivated less by age than a distaste for postmodern architecture. But, he insists, “it wasn’t quite retiring,” citing the ensuing decade and a half of lectures, occasional assignments, and work on books. Then, in 2000, Shulman was introduced to a German photographer named Juergen Nogai, who was in L.A. from Bremen on assignment. The men hit it off immediately, and began partnering on work motivated by the maestro’s brand-name status. “A lot of people, they think, It’d be great to have our house photographed by Julius Shulman,” says Nogai. “We did a lot of jobs like that at first. Then, suddenly, people figured out, Julius is working again.”

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You’d smile, too. At 96, Shulman is the best known architectural photographer in the world, and one of the genre’s most influential figures. Between 1936, when a fateful meeting with architect Richard Neutra began his career, and his semi-retirement half a century later, he used his instinctive compositional elegance and hair-trigger command of light to document more than 6,500 projects, creating images that defined many of the masterworks of 20th-century architecture. Most notably, Shulman’s focus on the residential modernism of Los Angeles, which included photographing 18 of the 26 Case Study Houses commissioned by Arts & Architecture magazine between 1945 and 1967, resulted in a series of lyrical tableaux that invested the high-water moment of postwar American optimism with an arresting, oddly innocent glamour. Add to this the uncountable volumes and journals featuring his

“The subject is the power of photography,” Shulman explains. “I have thousands of slides, and Juergen and I have assembled them into almost 20 different lectures. And not just about architecture—I have pictures of cats and dogs, fashion pictures, flower photographs. I use them to do a lot of preaching to the students, to give them something to do with their lives, and keep them from dropping out of school.” It all adds up to a very full schedule, which Shulman handles largely by himself—“My daughter comes once a week from Santa Barbara and takes care of my business affairs, and does my shopping”—and with remarkable ease for a near-centenarian. Picking up the oversized calendar on which he records his appointments, Shulman walks me through a typical seven days: “Thom Mayne—we had lunch with him. Long Beach, AIA meeting. People were here for a meeting about my photography at the Getty [which houses his archive]. High school students, a lecture. Silver Lake, the Neutra house, they’re opening part of the lake frontage, I’m going to see that. USC, a lecture. Then an assignment, the Griffith Observatory—we’ve already started that one.” Yet rather than seeming overtaxed, Shulman fairly exudes well-being. Like many elderly people with nothing left to prove, and who remain in demand both for their talents and as figures of veneration (think of George Burns), Shulman takes things very easy: He knows what his employers and admirers want, is happy to provide it, and accepts the resulting reaffirmation of his legend with a mix of playfully rampant immodesty and heartfelt gratitude. As the man himself puts it, “The world’s my onion.”

The world’s my onion

“I realized that I was embarking on another chapter of my life,” Shulman says, the pleasure evident in his time-softened voice. “We’ve done many assignments”—Nogai puts the number at around 70—“and they all came out beautifully. People are always very cooperative,” he adds. “They spend days knowing I’m coming. Everything is clean and fresh. I don’t have to raise a finger.” As regards the division of labor, the 54-year-old Nogai says tactfully, “The more active is me because of the age. Julius is finding the perspectives, and I’m setting up the lights, and fine-tuning the image in the camera.” While Shulman acknowledges their equal partnership, and declares Nogai’s lighting abilities to be unequaled, his assessment is more succinct: “I make the compositions. There’s only one Shulman.” In fact, there seem to be many. There’s Shulman the photographer, who handles three to five assignments a month (and never turns one down—“Don’t have to. Everyone’s willing to wait”), and the Shulman between hard covers, whose latest book, the three-volume, 950page Modernism Rediscovered, will shortly be published by Taschen. But the Shulman of whom Shulman seems most proud is the educator. In 2005, he established an  eponymous institute in conjunction with the Woodbury University in nearby Burbank, to provide, according to the school, “programs that promote the appreciation and understanding of architecture and design.” Apart from a fellowship program and research center, the Julius Shulman Institute’s principal asset is its founder, who has given dozens of talks at high schools across Southern California.

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Given the fun Shulman’s having being Shulman, one might expect the work to suffer. But his passion for picture-making remains undiminished. “I was surprised at how engaged Julius was,” admits the Chicago auction-house mogul Richard Wright, who hired Shulman to photograph Pierre Koenig’s Case Study House #21 prior to selling it last year. “He did 12 shots in two days, which is a lot. And he really nailed them.” Of this famous precision, says the writer Howard Rodman, whose John Lautner–designed home Shulman photographed in 2002: “There’s a story about Steve McQueen, where a producer was trying to get him to sign on to a movie. The producer said, ‘Look how much you change from the beginning to the end.’ And McQueen said, ‘I don’t want to be the  guy who learns. I want to be the guy who knows.’ And Shulman struck me as the guy who knows.” This becomes evident as, picking up the transparencies from his two most recent assignments, he delivers an impromptu master class. “We relate to the position of the sun every minute of the day,” Shulman begins, holding an exterior of a 1910 Craftsman-style house in Oakland, by Bernard Maybeck, to the lamp atop his desk. “So when the sun moves around, we’re ready for our picture. I have to be as specific as a sports photographer—even a little faster,” he says, GLANCEMAGAZINE.COM

nodding at the image, in which light spills through a latticework overhang and patterns a façade. “This is early afternoon, when the sun is just hitting the west side of the building. If I’m not ready for that moment, I lose the day.” He does not, however, need to observe the light prior to photographing: “I was a Boy Scout—I know where the sun is every month of the year. And I never use a meter.” Shulman is equally proud of his own lighting abilities. “I’ll show you something fascinating,” he says, holding up two exteriors of a new modernist home, designed for a family named Abidi, by architect James Tyler. In the first, the inside of the house is dark, resulting in a handsome, somewhat lifeless image. In the second, it’s been lit in a way that seems a natural balance of indoor and outdoor illumination, yet expresses the structure’s relationship to its site and showcases the architecture’s transparency. “The house is transfigured,” Shulman explains. “I have four Ts. Transcend is, I go beyond what the architect himself has seen. Transfigure—glamorize, dramatize with lighting, time of day. Translate—there are times, when you’re working with a man like Neutra, who wanted everything the way he wanted it— ‘Put the camera here.’ And after he left, I’d put it back where I wanted it, and he wouldn’t know the difference—I translated. OCT 2011

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And fourth, I transform the composition with furniture movement.” To illustrate the latter, Shulman shows me an interior of the Abidi house that looks out from the living room, through a long glass wall, to the grounds. “Almost every one of my photographs has a diagonal leading you into the picture,” he says. Taking a notecard and pen, he draws a line from the lower left corner to the upper right, then a second perpendicular line from the lower right corner to the first line. Circling the intersection, he explains, “That’s the point of what we call ‘dynamic symmetry.’” When he holds up the photo again, I see that the line formed by the bottom of the glass wall—dividing inside from outside—roughly mirrors the diagonal he’s drawn. Shulman then indicates the second, perpendicular line created by the furniture arrangement. “My assistants moved [the coffee table] there, to complete the line. When the owner saw the Polaroid, she said to her husband, ‘Why don’t we do that all the time?’” Shulman’s remark references one of his signature gambits: what he calls “dressing the set,” not only by moving furniture but by adding everyday objects and accessories. “I think he was trying to portray the lifestyle people might have had if they’d lived in those houses,” suggests the Los Angeles–based architectural photographer Tim Street-Porter. “He was doing—with a totally positive use of the words—advertising or propagandist photographs for the cause.” This impulse culminated in Shulman’s introduction of people into his pictures— commonplace today, but virtually unique 50 years ago. “Those photographs—with young, attractive people having breakfast in glass rooms beside carports with twotone cars—were remarkable in the history of architectural photography,” Street-Porter says. “He took that to a wonderfully high level.” Surprisingly, Shulman underplays this aspect of his oeuvre. The idea, he explains, is simply to “induce a feeling of occupancy. For example, in the Abidi house, I put some

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wineglasses and bottles on the counter, which would indicate that people are coming for dinner. Then there are times I’ll select two or three people—the owner of a house, or the children—and put them to work. Sometimes it’s called for.” “Are you pleased with these photographs?” I ask as he sets them aside. “I’m pleased with all my work,” he says cheerfully. “I tell people in my lectures, ‘If I were modest, I wouldn’t talk about how great I am.’” Yet when I ask how he developed his eye, Shulman’s expression turns philosophical. “Sometimes Juergen walks ahead of me, and he’ll look for a composition. And invariably, he doesn’t see what I see. Architects don’t see what I see. It’s Godgiven,” he says, using the Yiddish word for an act of kindness—“a mitzvah.” I suggest a tour of the house, and Shulman moves carefully to a rolling walker he calls “the Mercedes” and heads out of the studio and up the front steps. As a plaque beside the entrance indicates, the 3,000-square-foot, three-bedroom structure, which Shulman commissioned in 1948 and moved into two years later, was landmarked by L.A.’s Cultural Heritage Commission as the only steel-frame Soriano house that remains as built. Today, such Case Study–era residences are as fetishized (and expensive) as Fabergé eggs. But when Shulman opens the door onto a wide, cork-lined hallway leading to rooms that, after six decades, remain refreshing in their clarity of function and communication, use of simple, natural materials, and openness to the out-of-doors, I’m reminded that the movement’s motivation was egalitarian, not elitist: to produce well-designed, affordable homes for young, middle-class families. “Most people whose houses I photographed didn’t use their sliding doors,” Shulman says, crossing the living room toward his own glass sliders. “Because flies and lizards would come in; there were strong winds.

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So I told Soriano I wanted a transition— a screened-in enclosure in front of the living room, kitchen, and bedroom to make an indoor/ outdoor room.” Shulman opens the door leading to an exterior dining area. A bird trills loudly. “That’s a wren,” he says, and steps out. “My wife and I had most of our meals out here,” he recalls. “Beautiful.” We continue past the house to Shulman’s beloved garden—he calls it “the jungle”—a riot of vegetation that overwhelms much of the site, and frames an almost completely green canyon view. “I planted hundreds of trees and shrubs— back there you can see my redwoods,” he says, gesturing at the slope rising at the property’s rear. “Seedlings, as big as my thumb. They’re 85 feet tall now.” He pauses to consider an ominously large paw print in the path. “It’s too big for a dog. A bobcat wouldn’t be that big, either. It’s a mystery,” Shulman decides, pushing the Mercedes past a ficus as big as a baobab. The mystery I find myself pondering, as we walk beside the terraced hillside, is the one he cited himself: the source of his talent. In 1936, Shulman was an ama-teur photographer—gifted, but without professional ambition—when he was invited by an architect friend to visit Richard Neutra’s Kun House. Shulman, who’d never seen a modern residence, took a handful of snapshots with the Kodak vest-pocket camera his sister had given him, and sent copies to his friend as a thank-you. When Neutra saw the images, he requested a meeting, bought the photos, and asked the 26-year-old if he’d like more work. Shulman accepted and—virtually on a whim—his career took off. When I ask Shulman what Neutra saw in his images, he answers with a seemingly unrelated story. “I was born in Brooklyn in 1910,” says this child of Russian-Jewish immigrants. “When I was three, my father went to the town of Central Village in Connecticut, and was shown this farmhouse—primitive, but [on] a big piece of land. After we moved in, he planted corn and potatoes, my mother milked the cows, and we had a farm life.

“And for seven years, I was imbued with the pleasure of living close to nature. In 1920, when we came here to Los Angeles, I joined the Boy Scouts, and enjoyed the outdoor-living aspect, hiking and camping. My father opened a clothing store in Boyle Heights, and my four brothers and sisters and my mother worked in the store. They were businesspeople.” He flashes a slightly cocky smile. “I was with the Boy Scouts.” We arrive at a sitting area, with a small pool of water, a fireplace, and a large sculpture (purchased from one of his daughter’s high school friends) made from Volkswagen body parts. Shulman lowers himself onto a bench and absorbs the abundant natural pleasures. “When I bought this land, my brother said, ‘Why don’t you subdivide? You’ll make money.’” He looks amused. “Two acres at the top of Laurel Canyon, and the studio could be converted into a guest house—it could be sold for millions.” He resumes his story. “At the end of February 1936, I’d been at UCLA, and then Berkeley, for seven years. Never graduated, never majored. Just audited classes. I was driving home from Berkeley”—Shulman hesitates dramatically— “and I knew I could do anything. I was even thinking of getting a job in the parks department raking leaves, just so I could be outside. And within two weeks, I met Neutra, by chance. March 5, 1936—that day, I became a photographer. Why not?” Hearing this remarkable tale, I understand that Shulman has answered my question about his talent with an explanation of his nature. What Neutra perceived in the young amateur was an outdoorsman’s independent spirit and an enthusiasm for life’s possi-bilities, qualities that, as fate would have it, merged precisely with the boundless optimism of the American Century— an optimism, Shulman instinctively recognized, that was embodied in the modern houses that became, as Street-Porter says, “a muse to him.”

“[Shulman] always says proudly that Soriano hated his furniture,” says Wim de Wit, the Getty Research Institute curator who oversees Shulman’s collection. “He says, ‘I don’t care; when I sit in a chair I want to be comfortable.’ He does not think of himself as an artist. ‘I was doing a business,’ he says. But when you look at that overgrown garden, you know—there is some other streak in him.” That streak—the free soul within the unpretentious, practical product of the immigrant experience—produced what Nogai calls “a seldom personality”: a Jewish farm boy who grew up to create internationally recognized American cultural artifacts—icons that continue to influ-ence our fantasies and self-perceptions. I ask Shulman if he’s surprised at how well his life has turned out. “I tell students, ‘Don’t take life too seriously—don’t plan nothing nohow,’” he replies. “But I have always observed and respected my destiny. That’s the only way I can describe it. It was meant to be.” “And it was a destiny that suited you?” At this, everything rises at once—his eyebrows, his outstretched arms, and his peaceful, satisfied smile. “Well,” says Shulman, “here I am.”


the

Walt Disney

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Concert Hall

Epic Architecture By Christopher Hawthorne

How a once-stalled Frank Gehry project became one of his triumphs.

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F

rank Gehry was born Ephraim Owen Goldberg in Toronto, Canada. He moved with his family to Los Angeles as a teenager in 1947 and later became a naturalized U.S. citizen. His father changed the family’s name to Gehry when the family immigrated. Ephraim adopted the first name Frank in his 20s; since then he has signed his name Frank O. Gehry. Uncertain of his career direction, the teenage Gehry drove a delivery truck to support himself while taking a variety of courses at Los Angeles City College. He took his first architecture courses on a hunch, and became enthralled with the possibilities of the art, although at first he found himself hampered by his relative lack of skill as a draftsman. Sympathetic teachers and an early encounter with modernist architect Raphael Soriano confirmed his career choice. He won scholarships to the University of Southern California and graduated in 1954 with a degree in architecture. Los Angeles was in the middle of a postwar housing boom and the work of pioneering modernists like Richard Neutra and Rudolph Schindler were an exciting part of the city’s architectural scene. Gehry went to work fulltime for the notable Los Angeles firm of Victor Gruen Associates, where he had apprenticed as a student, but his work at Gruen was soon interrupted by compulsory military ser vice. After serving for a year in the United States Army, Gehry entered the Harvard Graduate School of Design, where he studied city planning, but he returned to Los Angeles without completing a graduate degree. He briefly joined the firm of Pereira and Luckman before returning to Victor Gruen. Gruen Associates were highly successful practitioners of the severe utilitarian style of the period, but Gehry was restless. He took his wife and two children to Paris, where he spent a year working in the office of the French architect Andre Remondet and studied firsthand the work of the pioneer modernist Le Corbusier.

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ith its exuberant, swooping facade, Frank Gehry’s newest building, the Walt Disney Concert Hall in downtown Los Angeles, looks anything but old-fashioned. And yet in at least one way, it’s an architectural throwback. In an era when office parks, suburban developments, and even skyscrapers seem to zoom to completion in a matter of months, the $274 million hall, which opens Oct. 23 with three nights of inaugural performances by the L.A. Philharmonic, recalls the days when significant public buildings sometimes took decades to finish. It wasn’t planned that way, of course. The project had its start back in 1987, with a $50 million gift from Walt Disney’s widow, Lillian. Working with a Japanese acoustician named Yasuhisa Toyota, Gehry quickly produced some very promising preliminary designs. The building seemed destined to be not just Gehry’s most important in Southern

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California, where he’s lived for nearly 60 of his 74 years, but among the most important of his career. Then, in the mid-1990s, a ballooning budget, fund-raising troubles, and other problems stalled the project. It wasn’t revived until 1997, when it received a new infusion of cash from the Disney family and others. That year saw the opening of Gehry’s Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain, which turned Gehry into a world-famous “starchitect,” doing exactly for his reputation what Disney Hall was supposed to. And indeed the two buildings have a lot in common: Both are composed of a jumble of organic forms sheathed in gleaming, windowless metal panels. (In Spain the material is titanium. In Los Angeles the facade was originally going to be limestone, but budget cutbacks or seismic worries, depending on which story you believe, forced Gehry to go with panels of brushed stainless steel.)

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Is the long-delayed Disney Hall, then, just a consolation prize for Los Angeles? Does one of the biggest cities in the world find itself in the odd position of playing second fiddle to a Basque regional capital with a population under 400,000? Not exactly. The building is a fantastic piece of architecture—assured and vibrant and worth waiting for. It has its own personality, instead of being anything close to a Bilbao rehash. And surprisingly enough, it turns out that all of those postponements and budget battles have been a boon for the hall’s design. What the finished product makes most clear is that like plenty of artists, Frank Gehry tends to work better with restrictions, whether they’re physical, financial, or spatial. Without them, his work tends to sprawl not just figuratively but literally. Even though it cost more than a quarter of a billion dollars and covers 293,000 square feet, Disney Hall is a tighter, more focused effort than many of those Gehry has produced after Bilbao, when the commissions came rolling in, his budgets suddenly became freer, and he found himself with clients perhaps less likely to challenge his authority. The hall manages to be at once lean and wildly expressionistic. It looks like a building in which every design decision has gone through two layers of scrutiny: one financial, the other aesthetic. Gehry had many years to tweak the project, and he’s managed to polish it without sacrificing any of its vitality. Like a lot of Gehry’s work, the new building relates remarkably well to the city, though the visual fireworks of its facade and its plush interior spaces may well distract a lot of people from this fact. It occupies a full city block at the top of Bunker Hill, across the street

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from Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, a gilded late-modernist mistake that used to house both the Philharmonic and the Academy Awards and today hosts neither. (The Oscars are now handed out at the new David Rockwell-designed Kodak Theater, a few miles away.) The facade soars, bends, and dives in a number of directions, in typical Gehry fashion, but that movement is always checked by the limits of the city grid. Seen from above, the building looks like a bunch of flowers contained, barely, within a perfectly rectangular flower box. Indeed, that tension—between free-flowing imagination and the limits imposed by physics and budgets—is what defines the building as a whole. That tension continues inside. There is a small performance and lecture space, for example, that Gehry created simply by stretching out one rounded corner of the huge lobby until it was big enough to operate as a quasi-separate room. It’s a setting for chamber music and pre-concert lectures that didn’t require any new walls or floors or even a stage. It makes something remarkable out of nothing. Other details in the lobby, from the walls lined in Douglas fir to the remarkable treelike columns (whose stocky, branching form Gehry says he stole from the Czech architect Joze Plecnik), promote a dreamlike and otherworldly feel, a detachment from the hustle-bustle and the grime of the city. But the lobby is also open to everybody: You don’t need a ticket to walk through it, as is the case in many concert halls. This is an old-school public space in the tradition of Grand Central Terminal or Bertram Goodhue’s low-slung central branch of the Los Angeles Public Library, which is only a few blocks away from the new hall.

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There is still more productive tension inside the auditorium itself, which holds about 2,200 people and during daytime performances will be naturally lit by mostly hidden skylights and one tall window. The free-flowing, organic forms that Gehry loves to use are offset by the rigorous acoustic demands that any architect of a concert hall has to contend with. (In an auditorium of this kind, every exposed surface, from balcony railings to seat upholstery, can affect how the orchestra sounds.) As it turns out, Frank Gehry and concert halls are well-matched. Acousticians have realized over the last few decades that convex—or outwardly bulging—curves can be very effective, bouncing and dispersing sound waves produced by an orchestra. (Concave curves, on the other hand, can trap sound.) And in buildings from Paris to Seattle, Gehry has produced what easily qualifies as architecture’s most varied and complete collection of convex curves. There’s no definitive word yet on whether Disney Hall’s acoustics are indeed good; the orchestra’s first performance is still a few days away. But the early word from the musicians, who began rehearsing in the new auditorium over the summer, has been positive.

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All of these dualities are fitting for a concert hall. An attraction of going to the symphony is trading in your regular self for a better-dressed, more cultured one. Symphony orchestras these days are looking for ways to attract younger, hipper audiences as their core supporters grow older, while at the same time preserving the sense of refuge that will always be classical music’s main drawing card. Gehry’s design cleverly explores both sides of that divide: It is a building where the members of a democracy can go to feel refined, to be lifted from the everyday. Gehry, along with a few of his more admiring critics, likes to define himself as a combination of artist and architect. That job description suggests that he envies the kind of pure creation that painters and sculptors can indulge in, distant from the demands of zoning boards, engineers, and French horn players. But in fact the Disney Concert Hall seems to make the opposite case about his talents. It’s full of evidence that Gehry is an architect in the most public-minded and collaborative senses of the word—that he’s a master at figuring out ways to allow inspiration to serve practicality, and vice versa.

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ToxicBeauty

the price of looking good may be higher than you think

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Y

“Not only are these beauty products toxic for human s, they are toxic to the environment.”

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ou’ve been dying to try that new shampoo that’s supposed to make your hair thick, lush and shiny. You can’t wait to use that new exfoliating scrub because the label tells you that it’s going to make your skin soft and glowing. You love that new cologne; every time you wear it you get so many compliments on how great you smell! You love these products and how they make you look and feel, but did it ever occur to you that what you put on your hair or your skin could make you sick? Did you know these products contain chemicals, toxins and hormones that can cause anything from an unsightly rash to learning difficulties to birth defects and even cancer? Even though each product may contain a limited amount of these toxins, please keep in mind, most people use several products each day, from the moment they wake up (soap, shampoo, conditioner, shave cream, deodorant, toothpaste, hand soap, make up) until they go to bed. After many years of daily use, these toxins accumulate in your body to cause the ailments I’ve listed above, among many others. If they cause these concerns for adults, just imagine the damage they can do to children who are smaller and weigh less. Although each product you may use may contain a restricted amount of chemicals, hormones and toxins, they can, and many times they do cause a myriad of damage to us all. Many of these products are made with petroleum-based ingredients, which contributes to global warming. Did you know that if you switch just one bottle of a petroleum based product for a vegetable based product we could save 81,000 barrels of oil in one year. How’s that for incentive to switch? So now you decide it’s time to go “green”, you go to the health food store and purchase “Organic” or “Natural” products and you no longer have to worry about these concerns... or do you? By Mercedes Cambridge III

Styled by Amber Kelly PhotographyOCT by Dustin Middleford 2011 GLANCE 37


ONLY

IN LA

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