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Architectural Firm Reorganizes

December 06, 1987

The Beverly Hills architectural firm of Maxwell Starkman Associates, which established a concept of "architecture for investment," has been acquired by Olivier Vidal and James Christensen and renamed Starkman, Vidal, Christensen.

Starkman, who founded his firm in 1953, will stay on as consultant. Vidal, whose local work includes the landmark Rodeo Collection in Beverly Hills, is chairman of the board and Christensen, who joined Starkman in 1985 as managing partner, is president.

Coincident with the change, Starkman's offices at 9420 Wilshire Blvd., the firm's headquarters for 14 years, have been sold and the newly reorganized firm will move into the Metro Arts Building, 5657 Wilshire Blvd., on Jan. 3. That structure was formerly occupied by two prominent and pioneer architectural firms headed by Welton Becket and William Pereira, respectively. The new firm's offices also will include space for art exhibitions, the first in association with the French consul general, according to Vidal, when the offices are formally opened and dedicated in February.

Vidal's latest design effort is the Ma Maison Hotel under construction across the street from Beverly Center. He was schooled at the Ecole des Beaux Arts in Paris and the Polytechnikum in Zurich. He was a founding partner of Sopha S.A. Architects, headquartered in Paris, which has designed global projects. He has taught at the Zurich institution and at UCLA.

Christensen, prior to joining Starkman two years ago, had been with Skidmore, Owings & Merrill for 20 years, specializing in design and management of high-rise and major commercial structures. He also worked on developments in Asia, Europe and the Middle East.

"I am very excited about this transition," Starkman said. "Olivier Vidal brings his unique European flair and artistic talent and Jim Christensen brings his design background, combined with strong organization and management skills.

"The sum total is a winning combination which is sure to make a very positive contribution to the architecture of Southern California."

Starkman's "architecture for investment" theory combined aesthetic excellence with economic viability to assure developer clients a sound financial return. In the early years of his practice, developers did not have the high level of sophistication they enjoy today, he explained, and his concept resulted in a solid following of clients, giving his firm a sound financial footing.

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