Combining the spirit of this holiday season with the spirit of this column, it is time once again to suggest gift books for a select few involved with the drift of architecture, planning and design in Southern California.
Most of the books are new, although a few have been recycled from holidays past. Each in their way has a message, if only in the title.
To Mayor Tom Bradley: "The Living City" by Roberta Brandes Gratz (Simon & Schuster), a well-documented plea for thinking small and being sensitive to the potential of historic preservation and community concerns, with a view toward injecting new life into tired cities (and perhaps also into tired mayors).
To John Tuite, head of the Los Angeles Community Redevelopment Agency: "City: Rediscovering the Center" by William H. Whyte (Doubleday), an insightful exploration of why some downtowns work as people places, chock-full of ideas that don't need a city council's approval.
To Kenneth Topping, Los Angeles planning director: "How to Save Your Own Street" by Raquel Ramati (Doubleday). Although nearly 10 years old, and fashioned for New York City, the book's focus and its detailing of street-wise planning tools are very applicable to Los Angeles now, and a not-so-subtle plea for some "get down" microplanning.
To Topping's patient staff, and persevering planners everywhere: "Right Before Your Eyes: Penetrating the Urban Environment" by Grady Clay (APA Planners Press), a collection of relaxed essays that engagingly relates planning and design to everyday places and events.
To Los Angeles County Supervisor Ed Edelman: "Los Angeles in the Thirties: 1931-1941" by David Gebhard and Harriette Von Breton (Hennessey & Ingalls), a revised and enlarged new edition of an informed and evocative view of the city's embrace of the Moderne-styled decade.
On the cover is a photograph of the Pan Pacific Auditorium, one of the period's architectural gems. For nearly 10 years, the landmark deteriorated while the supervisor procrastinated over its fate, until fate stepped in and it was destroyed by fire.
To Los Angeles Councilman John Ferraro, who no doubt will have to arbitrate various controversial proposals to redevelop sections of the Fairfax District: "Every Goy's Guide to Common Jewish Expressions," by Arthur Naiman (Ballantine).
And as the paperback blurb says: "Also recommended for Jews who don't know their punim from their pupik ."
Councilman Zev Yaroslavsky, of the adjoining district, no doubt knows the difference, so to him, along with colleagues Marvin Braude, Gloria Molina and Hal Bernson, goes: "Density By Design," edited by James Wentling and Lloyd Bookout (Urban Land Institute). Included is a selection of case studies of the trend toward more dense residential projects, with a knowing nod to community, political, financial and market considerations.
At $48, "Density by Design" is a little pricey, but I'm sure the former head of the city's Planning Commission, Dan Garcia, would be happy to put it on his gift list. To Garcia, who now counsels developers, goes: "Icons and Aliens: Law, Aesthetics, and Environmental Change" by John Costonis (University of Illinois Press).
A copy also goes to Councilman Mike Woo, along with: "Holly wood: Legend and Reality," (New York Graphic Society).
To Richard Weinstein, Bob Harris and Michael Rotundi, the trio of local architecture school deans who form the core of the Mayor's Design Advisory Committee: "Architecture: Meaning and Place," by Christian Norberg-Schulz, (Rizzoli). This is a heady compilation of essays and lectures that attempts to put architecture into a proper perspective.
To Gary Squier, Arnold Stalk, the L.A. Family Housing Corp. and the L.A. Community Design Cen ter, to aid them in their continuing noble struggle for decent housing: 'Reweaving the Urban Fabric," (Princeton Architectural Press). The book explores the siting, design and development of quality, affordable housing within existing neighborhoods.
To Scott Johnson, Richard Keating, Herb Nadel and Tom Landau, among other local architects whose bent it is to scrape the skies with their buildings: "Towers: A Historical Survey" by Erwin Heinle and Fritz Leonhardt (Rizzoli), a well-illustrated survey of the construction of every conceivable high-rise through the ages and around the world.
To Frank Gehry, Eric Owen Moss, Janek Bielski, Frank Israel, Michele Saee and other local designers who are arbitrarily, and at times capriciously, labeled avant-garde: "Social Design: Creating Buildings with People in Mind" by Robert Sommer (Prentice Hall). The text points the way to more user-oriented and environmentally sound designs; designs that are humanistic as well as sculptural.