Thurman Grant, Aaron Betsky, Craig Hodgetts at LA Forum’s Unfinished Business Retrospective Exhibition. July, 2012

I’m writing to share my enthusiasm and support for the LA Forum and encourage you to join me. For over twenty-five years, this organization has changed the way we look at, think about, and make the designed environment in Southern California.  Its competitions, publications, exhibitions, and lectures have shown us the best work out there, and have helped make L.A. better.  It needs to keep doing that.

Recently, I came back to Los Angeles to participate in the Unfinished Business events.  The level of work and discussion I found exhilarated me.  The LA Forum is thriving as never before –if on a shoestring.  On that afternoon in Hollywood, three or four generations came together to use the group’s history to discuss its future, and we all need to be part of that.

When Christian Hubert and I founded the Forum in 1988, it started as a small group of people who were full of ideas and designs and wanted to talk about them.  We got together in the late, great Frank Israel’s office, and then in Tony Bill’s screening room.  The food was good, the discussion better.  There were knock-down fights between the Knights of Dead Tech and the Prophets of a Vital Past.  We started showing each other our kitchen additions and restaurant interiors, as well as our ideas about how to change the boulevards and build on the courtyard housing tradition.  Eventually, we found a home in the Schindler House, and there we argued, plotted, and schemed while we sat in the courtyard, overshadowed both by the campsite turned into home and West Hollywood’s condos. We ventured out to explore L.A.’s hidden tunnels, power stations, gardens, and relics.  Mike Davis opened our eyes to the geography of social inequity in which we lived.  Young designers strutted their stuff.  We redesigned the Beverly Center.

Eventually, we collected what was going on in pamphlets and then a book, Experimental Architecture in Los Angeles.  We also became a real organization (more or less), and began, I would venture, to have a real role in California’s urbanism.

In 1995, I left Los Angeles, but I have remained as a member of the Forum ever since then.  I still miss the discussions and the research.  I miss seeing some of the best work being made in the world today.  I miss exploring the alpha and omega of our urban reality with fellow enthusiasts and critics.  I also still believe in what the Forum does, and want it to continue to thrive.  That is why I support the LA Forum for Architecture and Urban Design, and I hope you will as well.

Aaron Betsky
Los Angeles Forum for Architecture and Urban Design