Forum Newsletter

DELIRIOUS LA September 8, 2015 Brutal L.A. with James Black The LA Forum’s summer newsletter is dedicated to Brutalism in Los Angeles, complete with a guide to these often hard to love buildings in the Southland. In conjunction with the […]

For a downloadable PDF copy of the Newsletter click here Public. Civic. Urban. Community. The Fall 2013 issue of the LA Forum Newsletter, picks up a question from Lewis Mumford “What is a City?” In 1937 he defined the city […]

  After an absence from print for over a decade, the Los Angeles Forum for Architecture and Urban Design announces the relaunch of the LA Forum Newsletter. The premiere issue features architect Frank Escher on the clinical restoration of the […]

The premiere issue of the newly relaunched newsletter, debuting in March 2013, features articles by Frank Escher and Simon Reynolds, as well as an interview with Radio Iris author Anne-Marie Kinney and a centerfold by James Michael Tate.


Environmental Design Art Center
Patricia Oliver

Lesbian Domesticity: Catherine Opie
Rachel Allen

Pilgrimage .01 Albert Frey + His aluminum Houses
{No author}

Players in Search of a Game: The River Though Downtown Conference
Jack Burnett-Stuart

The Environmental Design department at Art Center was born six years ago when the College was just beginning to recognize the need for cross-pollination of disciplines. What has evolved is a program that lives very comfortably in the gray zone: where disparate elements can exist in harmony.

While her portraits of queers in the 1995 Whitney Biennial established Opie’s international reputation, she has a pointedly photographed architectural subject. Recently, she participated in the LA Forum’s “Fake Esta Te” lectures series, which investigated uses of architecture by LA artists.

A few hours out of LA is the holy grail of mid-century modern architecture, a town relatively untouched since the late sixties. Albert Frey, architect of many of Palm Springs’ best modern structures, is alive and well and looks benevolently down on his city from an aluminum and steel house on the mountain.

The River Through Downtown Conference, which took place on Saturday, February 28th, 1998 in the Central Library, was organized by the Friends of the Los Angeles River to discuss visionary proposals for the revitalization of the Los Angeles River at four sites: Taylor Yard, the confluence of the Arroyo Seco and the River, the Chinatown Yards and the Downtown/Pico Aliso section of the river.

The Forum spoke with the heads of seven local architecture and design programs to inquire how the schools are rethinking design education in the face of accelerated cultural production, changes necessitated by new technologies, and altered societal relations between the design community, the producing/constructing sector and the lay public.

An overview of 7 upcoming book releases including: Polychromie Architecturale: Le Corbusier’s Color Keyboard, Sverre Fehn: Warhs and Projects, Writings 1949-1996, Frank O. Gehry: The Complete Works, Three Concepts, The Situationist City, Ballers + Wilson: New Buildings and Projects, Architecture Principe 1966 and 1996.

The Forum spoke with the heads of seven local architecture and design programs to inquire how the schools are rethinking design education in the face of accelerated cultural production, changes necessitated by new technologies, and altered societal relations between the design community, the producing/constructing sector and the lay public.


Postscript, After 7 Years
Grahame Shane

Steven Flusty on Skid Row
Steven Flusty

The Shower Truck
Li Wen

Andrew Castrucci/Dystopia Deferred
Joe Day

Introduction Krzysztof Wodiczko and the Homeless Vehicle Project. Krzysztof Wodiczko, one of the creators of the Homeless Vehicle Project in 1988, recently spoke in New York.  He explored the instability of public space in this age of corporate downsizing and […]

Deep in the catacombs of the old cathedral, where an aborted subway line once ran, a congregation of berobed redevelopment officials and real estate financiers stands before an altar decorated with the jewel-encrusted likeness of a high-rise skyline. Behind the altar stands […]

Space Speed Form This Project uses the desire to provide showers for the homeless as a generator for creating architecture and a series of urban moments. SPECIFICATIONS 14 shower stalls powered by 1000 sf of solar panels mounted on the […]

Postered throughout downtown New York last year, the concentric diagram appeared equally an annotated target, enigmatic roadmap, and highly personalized flowchart. Andrew Castrucci composed this spiral of philosophical terms and concrete objects, twining them together in unlikely causal chains that […]

For this issue we compiled a reading list of suggestions from our friends and colleagues. Grahame Shane describes incursions made by alternate voices and views of the city in Postmodern Cities and Spaces, Joe Day argues for a broadening of architectural vision in a decade of pragmatism in his review of the Dia Art Foundation Discussion Series, Kevin O’Brien poses alternatives to erudition in his review of Compulsive Beauty, Tom Marble describes the materialization of a screenplay in the mind of a designer and Arden Yang presents the architectural imaginings of a movie producer. In closing this issue, we remember the passing of a good friend.

REVIEW: Post-Modern Cities and Spaces Edited by Sophie Watson and Katherine Gibson Reviewed by Grahame Shane After a period of drought, there is a welcome flood of good textbooks and readers on the post-modern city. This new literature incorporates theories […]

Chapter 5 SCOPE AND GENERAL Section 501. This chapter prescribes general design requirements applicable to all architecture regulated by this code. Section 502. The following definitions give meaning to certain terms related to this code: Architecture. Structures relevant to a […]

REVIEW: Vision and Visuality Hal Foster, Editor Dia Art Foundation Discussions in Contemporary Culture, no. 2 Bay Press 1988. and Visual Display: Culture Beyond Appearances Lynne Cooke and Peter Wollen, Editors Dia Art Foundation Discussions in Contemporary Culture, no. 10 […]

Review: Compulsive Beauty by Hal Foster Compulsive Beauty Hal Foster MIT Press 1996 (PB) Surrealism has been rediscovered. In the avalanche of this renewed interest arrives Hal Foster’s book Compulsive Beauty. Foster proposes a psychological analysis of Surrealism via Freud, […]

“… Where the Eames House, however, differs from its nearest predecessors, the steel-framed buildings of Soriano , and also its possible successors, the house of Koenig, Craig Ellwood and others in the Los Angeles area, is that its composition is […]

We lost Franklin David Israel early in the morning, Monday, June 10th. He turned 50 last fall, and had battled AIDS for twelve years with resolve and courage that became so engrained, so matter-of-fact, that one often took his survival […]

A bibliography of books being read by Forum Board Members and other recommendations.

IN THIS ISSUE: Lesley Marlene Siegel documents the personalization of an ubiquitous element in Los Angeles’ urban landscape. Four architects, John Chase, John Kaliski, Mohsen Mostafavi and John Dutton set out parameters for urban design in the face of late capitalism. Gary Strang proposes designs for an engineered landscape.

The common theme of the morning is the force, the effect, the primary importance of human actions in shaping the city. Just as urban designers make interventions in the fabric of the city so do the city’s residents’ individual actions […]

As much as we may want to believe that the city is an autonomous work of art, architecture the mother of urban design, and architects and planners the designers of the urban environment, all who have tried to design an […]

In recent years, American architecture has generally deemphasized it specific and intended relationships with the contexts and situations of new buildings in the city. The term context, when used, has invariably been limited to a sense of describing the physical […]

The goal of transforming the environment may be ancient, but our ability to realize that goal is unprecedented. In the late 20th century, our technologies less and less resemble tools – discrete objects that can be considered separately from their […]

Names matter. The difference between naming a hapless infant Mortimer or Hercules charts the destiny of that child. The same is true for pets. They have names because they are the object of human affection. The pet’s name subsumes the […]

The Forum’s summer lecture series, Natural Productions, featured eight speakers who addressed the issue of nature and landscape in the city. Such an issue is particularly complex in Los Angeles, which more than almost any other American city has promoted […]

IN THIS ISSUE: Jennifer Siegal and Todd Erlandson document the collage of pre-fabricated parts in a Mexican village off Highway 1. Grahame Shane critiques the Koolhaas show at MoMA as an essay on the problem of dispersion, the media, architecture and the metropolis. Peter Samarin explores the operations of a computer program as a new set of conventions for the creation of architectural form.

The process by which architectural forms are imagined generally involves deeply imbedded relationships between the mind, the hands and a repertoire of preferred tools that are highly resistant to reexamination. These relationships, more than anything else, define the parameters within […]

“Beautiful as the chance encounter of a sewing-machine and an umbrella on the dissecting-table” -Lautreamont The Rem Koolhaas show at the Museum of Modern Art in New York pointed to one of the key problematics of the post-Modern city, which […]

Often personal expression and invention will find their architectural place not in the world of economic affluence, bureaucracy and codes, but in Rudofsky’s world of architecture without architects. The beauty of Rudofskys’ observations lies in the natural evolution of built […]

What is the proper territory for the practice of architecture?: We interview Margaret Crawford on distinctions between art and architecture, Eric Kahn writes to Robert Stern on the destruction of architecture from within, and Scott Cohen argues for uncovering a different relationship between architecture and its subject through formal research. Pat Morton provides additional insight into our many Urban Revisions.

This conversation took place against the background of a recent redefining of the funding process for public art projects in the local municipality of Culver City.  A great deal of press time and public energy has gone into arguing exactly […]

The “Urban Revisions” exhibit at the Los Angeles MoCA presents a broad overview of urban design during the last decade, primarily in North America.  Without fitting the disparate schemes into a particular theme or position, the show provides an extremely […]

‘Panic in the Year Zero’ Architecture Under Duress: Modernity: The Questions of Revisionism or Recontexualization, by Eric Kahn Life Magazine 1271 Avenue of the Americas New York, New York 10020   To: Editor Fr: Central Office of Architecture Re: LIFE […]

Architectural form is always paradoxical.  It remains estranged and autonomous because it escapes the cultural categories by which it is assimilated and situated.  The programs that necessitate and the materials that give body to form are also protagonists in the […]

THE AIA CONVENTION COMES TO TOWN: David Jensen and Joe Day take issue with the state of the profession. Robert Adams presents our own Broadway District with new eyes. Fred Dewey describes the consequences of ‘Cyburbia.’

This article is an attempt to outline some of the current work being produced by architects and activists who are responding to concrete social, political, and economic changes, from Canadian Zine Splinter to local Los Angeles activists.

LA Forum Newsletter – May 1994: Ruminations on the places, buildings, shops and people of Downtown Los Angeles, on and off Broadway.

The American Institute of Architects has a window of opportunity in Los Angeles that it has not enjoyed in the last twenty years. For a variety of reasons, few having much to do with the AIA, young designers in California […]

L.A. has long been boosterized as a kind of paradise for commerce and fantasy. It has also been lamented for its lack of a sense of community, for cars out of control, people’s retreat into isolation, and the privatization of […]

Antic architecture goes against the grain, only that which embodies power, whether that of the Medicis or of MacDonald’s. Architecture has served power and in return has been head-locked by it. Similarly, the institutions that define and support architecture; the media, […]

Excerpt from the architecture zine Splinter #4: Glare & the Antic Architecture Cinema, Summer 1991, Barry Isenor + Kenneth Hayes, Editors. There was an arresting moment in a film we saw recently. Beyond swirling blue and black images of desolate […]

Public space and urbanism are discussed in articles by Fred Dewey, Chava Danielson and in an introduction to the Forum lecture series by John Dutton. These are also the topics for upcoming symposia sponsored by MOCA, the Forum and the Getty Center.

Public space is thought to mean any open space that attracts people. Yet most would agree Los Angeles, even with its crowds and parks, is not a very favorable environment. Indeed, and frankly as a shock, it is becoming almost […]

It is increasingly common to hear Los Angeles invoked as the model city of the emerging post-industrial world. Although such a claim may have wide acceptance, there is little agreement as to whether it is an honor, dishonor, or merely […]

Essays on cyberspace, VR, AI, information panopticons, Shin Takamatsu and hospital design by Rachel Allen, Aaron Betsky, gordon kipping and an interview with Christian Hubert by Stephen Perrella.

Doctors Bury Their Mistakes Some Notes on Hospitals Nowhere is our pact with the technological devil more clear than in hospitals. They represent our enslavement to a technology that promises survival, on both a personal and a professional level, but […]

Nostalgia and Technology Re: Shin Takamatsu at Sfmoma 1. To talk about technology without anticipating the future is as difficult as talking about the future without involving technology. Since Frankenstein was published in 1816, science and technology have been the […]

Cyberspace and Architecture Interview with Christian Hubert by Stephen Perrella SP: As an architect, how are you engaged in virtual reality and how do you consider this work in relation to “built projects”? CH: I think it is important to […]

The continued pervasiveness of existent and emerging information technologies is certain to contribute significantly to the reconfiguration of the social relations that organize productive activity. Early signs of such a change can already be witnessed. The rapid growth of information […]

Essays on EuroDisney and other urban landscapes by Frank Owen Gehry, Andrea Kahn, Nina B. Lesser, Jonathan Massey, Dana L. Weber, Nicholas Lowe, a photo essay by Kristine Larsen, and more Nomadic Thoughts.

SL: Do you agree with most of the architectural press’s assertion that only your Entertainment Center escaped Disney-itis because it is the only un-themed building at EuroDisneyland? FOG: In before-the-opening views, the building seems to have escaped, but in after-the-opening […]

The Disney Corporation has become a prestigious client among architects. The attention being paid by the architectural press to Disney’s recent commission of several prominent architects has made much of the participation of high-profile architecture in this major cultural enterprise. […]

SEPTEMBER 20, 1992; A FRIEND’S APARTMENT, PARIS: “Agriculture, c’est pas Disneyland” states a farmer in the studio of France Tele 2, during a broadcast of the ECC referendum returns. (Agriculture, c’est pas Disneyland-well, maybe, or maybe not. Both are big […]

Of the many different ideas implied by the phrase “New World Order,” a central theme is the paradoxical breaking down of individual political and economic barriers, on the one hand, and the formation of “blocks” of several independent nations on […]

Every yard is a Sod Frontier. “Land without population is a wilderness, and population without land is a mob.” The fence-object allows nature to become the land subject. The commodification of nature is a product and producer of complacency. Sooner […]


Whose Beach Party is this Anyway? Architecture and its Audience
John Chase

Letter from Vienna
Terence Riley

Experimental Architecture in Los Angeles
Nina Lesser

Nomadic Thoughts
Aarden Hank

James Stirling: Full Frontal Up View
Aaron Betsky

While I suspect that I was asked to review Experimental Architecture in Los Angeles and its essays by Aaron Betsky, John Chase, and Leon Whiteson in order to provide an “East Coast” point of view, these comments are being written […]

What makes architecture “experimental?” According to this publication, it appears to be popularity, fashion, and linkage to Frank Gehry and the Morphosis crowd. This definition is useful in that it provides important insight into the values of the current architecture […]

Downtown LA in the distance.  Building and highway, remotely proximate. What to do with leftovers – with outdated visions of enduring urban form? Criteria used to evaluate cities, urban values, are predicated on the spatial structure of traditional urban form: cities built […]

I have always felt slightly guilty about admiring James Stirling. The pleasure I took in his architecture always seemed somewhat perverse. How could I explain to a rational person the delight I took in a floor plan, like that of […]

Sylvia Lavin guest edits this issue, soliciting statements from various participants in various initiatives, which offers an educational glimpse of the lay of the changing architectural land regarding the education of an architect.

Future Directions: Architecture and Urban Design Jurg Lang, Head of A/UD Program Design is the central focus of architectural practice as well as education. Strength and distinction in design is thus an indispensable attribute for any leading school of architecture. […]

New Directions and Priorities In the Urban Planning Program Ed Soja, Assistant Dean I have decided to use the broad title of Critical Studies in Architecture and Urban Planning to encompass what has recently been called Critical Urbanism or Critical […]

On the Search for a New Dean Dianne Ghirrardo, Associate Professor Through some strange sequence of events, an astonishing number of schools are seeking new deans this year. Not surprisingly, one of the first questions asked by faculty members is […]

An Architecture School in the Making Under the leadership of founding dean Adele Naudé Santos, the UCSD School of Architecture is absorbed in its first research project rethinking the nature of architectural education. With just nine months until the arrival […]

SCI-Arc in Motion Michael Rotondi, Director After almost twenty years at its original site on Berkeley Street in Santa Monica, SCI-Arc will be moving this spring to new quarters on 5454 Beethoven Street. The former factory and offices of the […]

Experiments Against Buildings Aaron Betsky, Department Coordinator What is a Department of Environmental Design? During the 1960s, Environmental Design was a phrase meant to defuse the imperial overtones of architecture. It implied the dissolution of a formalist practice into technological […]

The architectural culture of any metropolis both needs and is reflected by the quality of its bookstores. More than places to buy books, they are indispensable educational resources for the communities they serve. For many professionals, bookstores take the place […]


RE: defining the American Dream
Alison Lynn

Dream On
John Chase

State of the Art
Joe Day

Home on the Range
Aaron Betsky

I Like X
Douglas MacLeod

Since the boom of the early 1950s the response to increased demand for housing has been to build outwards. With Los Angeles and its adjoining counties spanning hundreds of square miles, planners have been virtually powerless to control the growth […]

Architects and city planners don’t always see eye to eye with the public about the desirability of increasing the density of existing urban neighborhoods. A case in point is the show “RE: American Dream”, recently on view at the L.A. […]

(or, just Out of Spite?) Out of Site: A Social Criticism of Architecture, edited by Diane Ghirardo, (Seattle: Bay Press, 1991), 249 pages, $16.95 essays by Margaret Crawford, Mike Davis, Rosalyn Deutsche, Kenneth Frampton, Diane Ghirardo, Vincent Pecora, Tony Schuman and Ferruccio […]

At the edge of the city, the forms of the future rise in front of you like an apocalyptic nightmare of normalcy. Coming over the crest of the San Gabriel mountains, you see nothing but the closed compounds of suburban […]


Babylon Davisited. Or, to boost a Debunker
Joe Day

In Search of Identity
Christian Hubert

Any Part
Peter Lipson

City of Quartz: Excavating the Future of Los Angeles, by Mike Davis, Verso, 462 pages, photographs by Robert Morrow. In a city so often scorched by the sun’s brutal gaze, one seldom confronts the incredible variety of paradox and contradiction frozen in […]

Some notes on the “Anyone” Conference The problematic nature of the subject, long since rejected as a starting point for critical thinking by Structuralists, Post-Structuralists, Marxists and Feminists alike, is today a ubiquitous theme in theoretical discourse. The prevalence of […]

In an act of contrition, I lay down by your side. I should have known better. Closing doors; what a well made world. Please don’t turn a deaf ear to the noises you hear I’m keeping it to myself, but […]


Chaos and its (Dis)Contents: The Boys O’Freud
Joe Day

Violated Perfection: A Critical Review
Diane Ghirardo

The Armand Hammer Museum and Mausoleum or Life After Death, Building Beyond Blandness
Aaron Betsky

When called upon to discuss their work they hedge. They’ll talk about baseball and fish, Derrida and Oldenburg, lit theory and pop art, new girlfriends and children. Peter Eisenman and Frank Gehry are the Corleone brothers of avant-garde architecture, refusing […]

Violated Perfection: Architecture and the Fragmentation of the Modern, Aaron Betsky, Rizzoli, 1990, 208 pp., illus., $50 hard cover, $35 paper back In Violated Perfection, Aaron Betsky attempts to place the work of a diverse group of contemporary architects into […]

It is hard to find good things to say about the architecture of the Armand Hammer Museum and Cultural Center in Westwood. Unfortunately, the combination of incompetence in planning and desperate, empty gesturing in appearance is nothing new in Los […]


Two Recent Defeats
Aaron Betsky

How Can I Miss You When You Wont’ Go Away?
John Chase

Them vs Us
Ben Caffey

Jumbo Size Architecture
Alan Hess

Two recent events have brought political realities home to us. The first was the recent forced resignation of Merry Norris from her position as President of the Cultural Affairs Commission. Norris has been instrumental in turning that body into an […]

High art architects and their critics have become so fixated on making art out of architecture that they have forgotten how complex a discipline architecture really is.  Their discussion places a high value on the innovation of new vocabularies and […]

On August 4, a symposium called “Welcome to the Millenium: Architecture Strikes Back” was held in conjunction with the Coop Himmelblau Exhibition at Richard Kuhlenschmidt Gallery.  Behind a table on a raised dais set up in the gallery’s parking lot, […]

If an unexpected volcano out at Mammoth suddenly turned California into a huge, gooey papier-mache snapshot, where should twenty-first century archaeologists start digging to figure us out? What one location will tell them the most about how we lived? I’d […]

Articles by Douglas MacLeod, John Chase, Deborah Murphy

The conventional definition of contextualism suggests that new construction should be compatible with existing buildings. To belabor the obvious, this compatibility translates into a similarity of scale, color, proportion, material and other architectural elements. Yet from Hollywood to Hancock Park, […]

Everyone knows what American automobile design of the 1950s was all about – fins, chrome, swelling curves combined with sharp angles for sex appeal. It is equally clear that the average Nissan Sentra from the 1970s wasn’t trying as hard […]

The Los Angeles Design Action Planning Team, (LA/DAPT) was created in 1988 by the City of Los Angeles Planning Department and the Urban Design Advisory Coalition (UADC). The Planning Team was founded on a $32,000 grant from the National Endowment […]


A City Transformed
Ben Caffey

Public Planning: The Physical Paradigm
Michael Pittas

Shopping for the Beverly Center
Aaron Betsky

Duchampian Dudes Missing Waves
Raymund Ryan

Los Angeles, the ultimate postwar city, can be likened to an equipotential field: anything is more or less possible anywhere.  One comes to feel, therefore, that its diversity of opportunities and resources are secretly cached within its vast grid and […]