Archive for the ‘L.A.’ Category

Hello Beautiful LA!


New horizons. On the day I arrived

I went inside three beautiful homes designed by John Lautner.

Each a glorious rhythm.

Each a free-flowing rhapsody on its site

in episodes of contrasting tones.

Their effects float musically through space and the landscape.

Peering through the glass, seeing my self reflected, and my hopes, I dreamt of many things.

But I was not with a real estate agent, not looking to buy. No, the houses were open for a day, for a fee, in conjunction with the fine exhibition at the Hammer Museum: “Between Earth and Heaven – The Architecture of John Lautner.

The installation at the Hammer works well. Putting the models and drawing at about waist height, with the cases in white, also makes you feel like you’re floating.

And I love the see-through models placed in front of large photos or even videos. You look through the models, as an occupant would, to see the gorgeous views of the natural world.

Of course, nothing is like actually going inside a John Lautner, and you have three more chances. The Hammer and the Getty Research Institute are also sponsoring a symposium on Lautner, on September 19. You’ll find other events too, such as Lautner and film, this being LA.

The natural materials and the immateriality, the site and the light, the theoretical geometries and the nature bursting in to John Lautner’s houses does place one somewhere between Heaven and Earth. And if you’re not from here, it’s a different kind of heaven. Very soft.

Much to contemplate


L.A. Earthquake


I have just arrived here, in this land of movers and shakers. And already, an earthquake. More to come?

I’ll be writing on architecture and city design from here.

Thanks to an Annenberg Fellowship in the Specialized Journalism of Arts and Architecture, at the University of Southern California.

A friend once told me that I am the only person she knows who can look at a building until it begins to dance.  I thought of that after I saw the walls where I’m staying wave at me.   

But I’ll be here at least one year, if Los Angeles agrees to remain standing.

Any tips? Do you think I’ll like it here?


From Cambridge to LA


On my way to LA.
So I thought I’d say “see you soon” to some of my favorite Boston and Cambridge spots. Here’s the Saarinen chapel at MIT. Don’t the electric lights above the altar look like a blue LA sky?

Neutra VDL Research House in L.A. opens to tours


The house will be open to the public without appointment on Saturdays from 11:00 am to 3:00 pm, beginning on Saturday February 16th. $10.00 per person.

And of course, the house is available for film or photo shoots, seminars, conferences, and retreats. Nice. I’d love to. What would I write in there? I ran that experiment once at the Farnsworth House. And brought lots of music, Glenn Gould for example, to listen to. I think they ought to let these monuments to poets and composers.

The Neutras in LA are knockouts, and this one is in danger!

$30,000 is needed by October 1, 2008 to cover day-to-day operating expenses and repair costs.

In 1990 Richard Neutra’s wife Dione, left the VDL Research Compound to the Cal Poly Pomona College of Environmental Design. If the College is unable to raise the $30,000 needed to pay insurance, utilities and upkeep of the Neutra VDL Research Site by October 1, 2008, the building complex is threatened with closure and possible sale to a private party.


Eames again


Eames elephants, house and showroom.

I love L.A. And how when you put an elephant near Disney Hall you learn something about that organic architecture. Gehry’s sail-like, billowy, watery curves take on new connotations. It’s like in the poem The Blind Men and an Elephant.

“It was six men of La-La Land…”

If you’re at work, turn down the volume. Unless you want the sounds of elephants bellowing throughout your workplace. I think if you like Horton hears a who! you’ll like this.



Freeway stripes on the floor of L.A.’s cathedral?!


L.A.’s about the light.

Moneo’s Cathedral can be luminous/numinous.

Take one adobe church,

add Ronchamp by Corbusier,

and you get Rafael Moneo’s pretty wonderful modernist cathedral in L.A.
But the light on the floor can look like freeway stripes, no?


Freeway to heaven?


Greetings from sunny L.A.!

I’m here in far-out LA at a USC Annenberg / Getty Fellowship
with the fab Sasha Anawalt. In fact I write this from the University of Southern California Digital Media lab. We’re listening to the one and only Douglas McLennan of ArtsJournal. com – the single best site on the web for my money. But Doug is so much more than just that site – classical pianist, lived in Rome and China, and is launching many exciting new projects, some with audio and video components. Is he the next American media mogul? Right now he’s trying to convince each of the fellows to start a blog. Because, he says,

1. There will be a business model for this, and
2. You’ll be involved in conversations that interest you and others interested in the same topic will find you.

He’s also reviving, in a new, different form – NAJP – the National Arts Journalism Program. Look for news in about two weeks.

I’ll post more about what we’re doing as time allows – but I warn you, they run us hard. (Awww… =] )

Every time I come to L.A. I’m impressed with, believe it or not, the lush public space here. Lots of nice small public areas, many with fountains, many away from the traffic, scattered all about. The problem is with few pedestrians, not many people stop to sit in most of them.

Tonight we see Eschenbach and the Philadelphia Orchestra at Disney Hall. Dang! I didn’t get that ticket to the taping of American Idol.

But Disney Hall is one of the most beautiful spots in the world. And the stainless steel gleamed gorgeous under today’s grey sky.
Wish you were here.



L.A. vs. Chicago?
Ambition, muses and Olympic games.

Dudamel to LA.

The hot 26 year old Venezuelan conductor believes he’ll find happiness in L.A.

Meanwhile the Chicago Symphony Orchestra is still looking for a music director since Daniel Barenboim stepped down ten months ago. Critic Andrew Patner, in this passionate and well-reasoned article and review of Dudamel’s debut last Thursday with the Chicago Symphony, wanted the CSO to go after the Venezuelan.

“Let’s hope that they (the CSO board members) are carrying pens and contract paper to share with Dudamel before he leaves town.”

Well, either they didn’t take the caps off their pens fast enough, or they weren’t interested, or, once again in the arts, L.A. beat Chicago.

They took the film industry away from us years ago, then the title of “second city;” is their orchestra going to eclipse ours? In architecture, leaders who 100 years ago would have probably lived in “wild west Chicago” today live and work in the exciting and still-defining-itself city of the angels.

Looking for a music director, it doesn’t hurt L.A.’s orchestra at all that they perform in

the new and fabulous Disney Hall designed by Frank Gehry.

That’s a much better place to work (and to listen to music) than is

Chicago’s Symphony Center, (Daniel H. Burnham, 1904), a place many of us put up with to hear great music, but don’t love.

Chicago needs to be more ambitious to stay near the top in culture. We need to realize more projects like Millennium Park (with its own fantastic Gehry-designed outdoor music venue.) I wish that rather than renovate Orchestra Hall as the CSO did a few years ago, we’d have built a new one.

L.A. is ambitious today, competing with New York, the way Chicago was in the very late 1800’s, when Chicago built Adler and Sullivan’s Auditorium Theater.

Speaking of Adler and Sullivan, cultural historian Tim Samuelson tells the story that not long after Symphony Center, ne’ Orchestra Hall opened and the acoustics were less than hoped, they brought in Louis Sullivan to see if he could improve the acoustics. Dankmar Adler, the real acoustician in the firm was already gone to the great echo chamber in the sky. The Orchestra officials asked Louis Sullivan, “What be the cost to improve Orchestra Hall?” To which he replied, “What would be the cost of six sticks of dynamite?”

– + – + – +

And speaking of L.A. and ambition, in a week we’ll find out which US city gets to compete worldwide for the Olympics. The USOC officials were taken to Chicago’s very ambitious Millennium Park, and all around town. On Saturday they’ll let us know how impressed they were.

Chicago is competing against — Los Angeles.

“I am an American, Chicago-born.”