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Debating the Merits of Deconstructivism

August 14, 1988

Since you described my work as trivializing a style referred to as Deconstructivism ("Architecture as Sculptural Objects" by Sam Hall Kaplan, July 24) I felt that I should introduce myself and my position.

My project on the southeast corner of Robertson and Santa Monica boulevards, which will function very well as the Mexican restaurant it will shortly be, was used as an example to show that the style described in the story is now a fad that anyone can simply and in a trivial way copy.

If this premise is true, my project should not be used for this example. I have been carefully practicing this style, perhaps more appropriately called Neo-Expressionism than Deconstructivism, for more than 10 years.

My experience includes three years with Frank Gehry's firm, as well as being one of the principal architects of CITY restaurant. While my current restaurant project may be simple (it is a small remodel of an existing building with a very tight budget), the project is very rich and far from trivializes the theories behind the works at the MOMA show.

The architecture that I create (and that of others working in this style) challenges the human experience instead of simply satisfying pedestrian functions. Human emotions and souls have needs too. Architects are not simply here to comfort society, but to give it environments that it can achieve its highest goals in.

Of course, the look of architecture changes. The human condition thrives on change. Can you imagine how upsetting the Baroque architecture we are so comfortable with now was when it was first introduced? In the most superficial way one could call any architectural style a fad. Nothing is done the same way forever. The better examples of architecture, particularly those which are controversial, make the human experience richer.

DAVID KELLEN

Los Angeles

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