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Closing a Decade of Design: Some Hits and Misses

December 31, 1989|SAM HALL KAPLAN

Beaudry Center (Collier-Deutsch) and the W.C.T. tower (World Chinese Trust), the Mutt and Jeff of office structures defacing the west bank of the Harbor Freeway. The WCT building is also known as the "twisted tower."

First United Methodist Church demolition downtown and the Pan Pacific Auditorium burning in the Fairfax District. The landmark church was cleared to make way for a new Southern California Gas Co. headquarters that was never built and the beloved Pan destroyed while politicians procrastinated over plans for its recycling.

Home Savings Bank (Tim Vreeland of A.C. Martin) downtown, and overdesigned inside and out. May not be one of the worst but it's one of silliest.

Melrose Avenue street widening, resulted in the narrowing of the sidewalk of one of L.A.'s most pedestrian-active streets, making it hard to window-shop and enjoy the passing crowds. Imagine what it would be like if the sidewalk was widened for cafes, benches and shade trees.

Edgemar (Frank Gehry), the mixed-use project in Santa Monica that, despite all the stated good intentions, feels less like the center of a Tuscan hill town it is described as in the various awards it has received, and more like a minimum-security prison.

Gehry was without peer the local emperor of architecture of the '80s. At times his clothes were just right for the occasion, as they were for the Loyola Law School. Other times, such as Edgemar, they seemed to be in need of some radical tailoring to fit. When you are the emperor everyone notices.

Aaron Spelling residence, which at 56,500 square feet, should be considered a congregate living facility and not a single-family home, and therefore in violation of Holmby Hills zoning.

What Spelling's folly is, of course, is a sad commentary on the distorted values that have taken the architectural form of monster mansions at a time when tens of thousands of persons are homeless.

From my perspective, homelessness was architecture's worst "project" of the '80s and a national shame.

In the next decade, may the best flourish.

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