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Some Points Missed in AIA Design Awards

November 03, 1985

Sam Kaplan's article, "Trendy Projects Win Most AIA Awards" (Oct. 13), presented an odd and ultimately misleading description of this year's LA/AIA design awards program. Curiously absent from Kaplan's story were two aspects which struck veteran observers of this annual contest as most significant.

This year, for the first time in recent memory, the awards program was organized around a public exhibition of the entries. In contrast to past years when the jury has based its assessment on slides seen only by them, interested observers of the local scene could review the 1985 projects (136 in all) at their leisure, reach their own conclusions and not have to rely--as Kaplan has in writing his article--on the recorded comments of the jurors at their public appearance.

The exhibition, along with the distinguished make-up of this year's jury, created considerable excitement in the architectural community, attracting entries from firms which had not competed before. It is most unfortunate that Kaplan was unable to carefully evaluate this exhibit for your readers, and that he chose not to separate its potential significance from the normally inscrutable workings of this (or any other) awards jury.

More importantly, Kaplan appears to have misconstrued the intentions of the jury, which, although composed of distinguished professionals of widely varying points of view, voiced unanimous agreement on one point--that the larger projects presented to them were decidedly less innovative and less successful than the small projects. Their opinions, taken together, formed a serious indictment of firms submitting large projects. For Kaplan then to suggest that few of the winning projects "dealt with any design issues of any public consequence" is to steer wide of the jury's central point.

FOR THE RECORD
Los Angeles Times Sunday November 10, 1985 Home Edition Real Estate Part 7 Page 19 Column 2 Real Estate Desk 3 inches; 85 words Type of Material: Letter to the Editor; Correction
Editor's Note: In a letter from Barton Phelps, architect and award winner, printed in the "Our Readers Write" column Nov. 3, a portion of the last sentence was inadvertently omitted. It should have read:
"Los Angeles architects are working hard to provide a medium for intelligent public discussion of architectural issues. Kaplan's column (Oct. 13,"Trendy Projects Win Most AIA Awards") could be of assistance to this effort, first by providing more accurate reporting based on more thorough research and then, perhaps occasionally giving us that rare commodity, an enlightening observation."

This statement also demonstrates Kaplan's failure to recall the historically demonstrated significance of small projects as catalysts for change at a larger scale.

Los Angeles architects are working hard to provide a medium for intelligent public discussion in this effort, first by providing more accurate reporting based on more thorough research and then, perhaps, by occasionally giving us that rare commodity, enlightening observation. BARTON PHELPS Los Angeles

Letters to "Our Readers Write" must include the writer's name, address and daytime telephone number and should be sent to the Real Estate Editor, Los Angeles Times, Times Mirror Square, Los Angeles 90053. Letters may be edited for reasons of space and clarity.

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