I enjoyed (Sam Hall Kaplan's Nov. 21) column about Julia Morgan, and especially the part about our Julia Morgan-designed Pasadena YWCA building. Our building is one of our most important assets. Not only is it architecturally significant, but the fact that it was designed by a woman architect makes it also an asset in terms of what it has meant in the lives of people in the Pasadena area since the 1920s.
I wish I had had the opportunity to talk with Kaplan personally and also share our frustrations with the building. I think Kaplan's column and perceptions of the YWCA building's historical value lacked a sense of "equal time" for those of us who have struggled with the facility's limitations and are trying, with the proposed renovation, to make the most sensitive and resource-efficient use of the building over the long term.
When watching children swimming in the pool it is hard to visualize the ancient pipes and constant breakage, high water and gas bills, and ongoing plumbing bills. From a fund-raising standpoint, when we see all the human needs that YWCA programs could address, it is difficult to keep throwing money down the pipes in the pool instead. Paying plumbing bills does not make a compelling case to donors, when their money could be used to help the homeless or prevent child abuse.
Our plans for the new YWCA/YMCA facility will allow us to keep and make even better use of the front part of our Julia Morgan building, which is, after all, the most aesthetically appealing. By rebuilding the pool and gym, we can use the space available in a more efficient way as well as provide facilities that are more feasible for use by the diverse population we serve. . . . Surely this is a better use of our land, our assets and our resources than maintaining an outmoded and inefficient area for purely sentimental reasons.
DONNA AHRENS LEWIS
Chief Executive Officer
YMCA, Pasadena-Foothill Valley