Over the past year, the Forum has changed in a number of significant ways. We have actively sought to widen the spectrum of cultural representation on our board and in our committees, and we are increasingly engaged in addressing the social issues that face Los Angeles today. The principal item set on the agenda for our April board meeting was to propose activities that would enable the Forum to make more direct and substantive connections to the city as a whole. As it turned out, our meeting took place just after the announcement of the Rodney King verdict, and the course of events most emphatically underscored the need for broader commitment. While much of this work is still in the organizational stage, there is already much to report.
In June, we held a discussion as to what we, as architects, can contribute to the (re)building of LA. We made up a list of the individuals who attended the meeting and have made that list available to other organizations needing pro bono or reduced fee architectural work. We will have a follow-up event in September, which is being organized by John Kaliski and Roland Wiley, a new board member and past president of the National Organization of Minority Architects. A number of community leaders and activists will participate in the discussion.
The Forum has become a participating organization in the Design Professionals Coalition. Rasa Bauza is our representative and is on the Coalition steering committee. We have proposed to the coalition to design (and possibly build) some temporary market structures in several burned-out locations. Once a framework for this project is established, we hope to be able to count on the energies of our members to carry the project through.
The Forum is also a sponsoring organization of the Taylor Yard Planning and Urban Design Committee. Kris Miller is one of its coordinators and Deborah Murphy is one of its project managers for the AlA. The committee has scheduled two planning and design workshops for the 250 acre Southern Pacific Railroad land within the Cypress Park / Glassell Park neighborhood. These workshops are scheduled for September 11-13 and October 23 -25. More information is available from Kris Miller at 213-487-3394.
Many of these changes follow directions promoted by Michele Saee during his tenure as Forum President. We were sorry to accept his resignation from our board, but as the new President I look forward to continuing his efforts. Michele has relocated his studio to Atwater Village where he has also opened a coffee shop/alternative space. We hope to hold some Forum events there in the future. He is also working with Shelley Berger at the House of Ruth, a transitional house for homeless or abused children in Boyle Heights. Michele has been teaching drawing classes at the House of Ruth and has designed a child-care center for them which is in the process of being built.
Natalie Shivers has decided to no longer serve as Newsletter editor and we would like to thank her for all her efforts, which have been greatly appreciated. This is the first issue of the Newsletter to be edited by Sylvia Lavin, who, as part of the Forum’s general effort to widen its horizons, hopes to broaden the scope of the Newsletter beyond Los Angeles, both in its authors and readership. Comments, letters to the editor, or anyone wishing to contribute to the Newsletter either by writing, doing editorial work or helping with production, are welcome and should contact Sylvia at the Forum number (213-852-7145).
Copies of Experimental Architecture in Los Angeles, Doug Suisman’s LA Boulevard, and Douglas Macleod’s Archinfo are available from the Forum.