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Architecture in Los Angeles

July 23, 1988

Architects who have contributed to the Los Angeles of 1988 must have been offended by the tone of Scott Harris' article for it has little praise for our architectural heritage, and lots of gushing about out-of-town chi-chi architects.

From a Cultural Affairs commissioner's belief that "there are precious few buildings that one can point to with pride," at the beginning, to a conclusion that a new attitude is shaping up that still has room for "a tradition of goofiness," the article is an insult to our architectural heritage and those designers who are living 60 years after their most notable work was finished.

Architects have become better known and better paid as the years have passed. The old-timers might be thankful that their work is their greatest gift. Samuel Lunden, who will observe his 90th birthday in August, designed the "new" wing of the Biltmore Hotel in 1928, and then went to Spring Street to finish what the Parkinson Brothers had begun. His first employer, Ralph Adams Cram, was the dean of collegiate Gothic architecture when he designed the Doheny Library for USC at about the same time.

Cliff May, also approaching his ninth decade, adapted the ranch-style building to suburban living during the days when the dean of movie houses, S. Charles Lee, was working on Broadway. City planners like Lunden and Reginald Johnson made our Broadways and Miracle Miles and Spring Streets the zones of classic and Art Deco styles.

I am buoyed to witness the emerging design consciousness in the general public, and a media eager to educate its readers. Yet I believe the consciousness is grounded in an architectural heritage so rich that historians like myself are vying to see who will come out with their books first.

DIANE KANNER

Los Angeles

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