In keeping with the holiday spirit, the following is a suggested gift list of books new and old for public and private persons, institutions and agencies involved with the drift of architecture, planning and design in Southern California:
To Mayor Tom Bradley, Return of the Livable City (Acropolis Books, 2400 17th St. NW, Washington DC, 20009). Compiled by the Washington D.C.-based Partners for Livable Places, the book, beneath a cloud of puffery, is an instructive compendium of examples of how select municipalities across the country have improved their quality of life through a varied mix of enlightened design efforts, historic preservation and cultural planning.
To Councilman Zev Yaroslavsky, Community of Interest by Oscar Newman (Doubleday). Though written nearly a decade ago, the book's suggestions on how cities can be improved by being more responsive to communities and helping to better shape their streetscapes and housing is more relevant than ever, especially in an increasingly urban L.A.
To the committee interviewing architects and exploring ideas for a new concert hall proposed for the Music Center, The Oberlin Book of Bandstands, edited by S. Frederick Starr, (Preservation Press). In addition to describing how bandstands once served as community focal points across the country, this attractive paperback offers a variety of new practical and engaging designs in obvious hope of a renaissance.
To the Design Advisory Panel being formed to aid the city's Cultural Affairs Commission, The Architecture of the City by Aldo Rossi (MIT Press). The emphasis in this inspired collection of observations made 20 years ago is not on the passing parade of architecture styles but on the city fabric, and the need for design to respect the user and history.
To the Pershing Square Management Assn., the Center City Assn., and the city's Community Redevelopment Agency, The Old-Fashioned Garden, text by Nancy Lynch and illustrations by Gill Tomblin (Rizzoli). Included in this colorful pop-up book are four gardens, each in three-dimensional detail and crammed with traditional and relatively inexpensive landscaping ideas that with imagination could be used in urban settings. A delight, and only $16.95.
To the Miracle on Broadway effort seeking to make one of the city's more interesting and diverse streets more appealing, Great American Movie Theaters by David Naylor (Preservation Press). A survey of about 360 surviving structures from the golden age of movie palaces, including a half a dozen historic gems in the Broadway area.
To the Museum of Contemporary Art committee overseeing the preparation of the Case Study House exhibit, The Scope of Social Architecture, edited by C. Richard Hatch (Van Nostrand Reinhold). This is a collection of case studies published a few years ago, exploring affordable, innovative housing efforts around the world that were designed with, and for, the user.
To Tom Hayden, Rental Housing in California: Market Forces and Public Policies, edited by LeRoy Graymer, Joseph DiMento and Frank Schnidman (Lincoln Institute of Land Policy). Having addressed the pollution of Santa Moncia Bay, the assemblyman should consider next how rent control, in the opinion of this landlord, is polluting Santa Monica housing and perverting economic democracy.
To the Los Angeles Board of Education and, in particular, the district's school planning staff, back copies of Schoolhouse, a newsletter published in the 1970s by the Educational Facilities Laboratories exploring innovative ways to meet school space needs without severely disrupting communities. Talking to the targeted communities in search of reasonable solutions would not be a bad idea, either.
To preservationists and house painters, who enjoyed scanning the frothy "Painted Ladies: San Francisco's Resplendent Victorians" when published nearly 10 years ago, there is now the paperback Daughters of Painted Ladies: America's Resplendent Victorians by Elizabeth Pomada and Michael Larsen, with photographs by Douglas Keister (Dutton).
To architecture buffs planning a trip to Europe, Modern Architecture In Europe: A Guide to the Buildings Since the Industrial Revolution, by Dennis De Witt and Elizabeth De Witt (Dutton). An attractive, well designed guide in either hard-cover or paperback to select landmark designs, blessed with exact directions on how to find them.
To Prince Charles, who has become a fierce defender of London's historic cityscape, Neoclassical and 19th Century Architecture, Volumes 1 and 2, by Robin Middleton and David Watkins (Electa/Rizzoli). These volumes exploring, respectively, the enlightenment in France and in England, and the diffusion and development of classicism and the Gothic revival, from about 1750 to 1870, are the latest additions to Rizzoli's excellent series on world architecture.