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Kentucky Fried Changes : Architecture: Is there any reason why all the Colonel's chicken emporiums should look alike? One owner thought not, so he hired a team to design something radically different.

July 05, 1990|LEON WHITESON | Whiteson is a Los Angeles architect and author whose latest book is "The Watts Towers of Los Angeles."

Grinstein sees architecture as "an art form with a function." She said she "reveres Frank (Gehry) but we have no wish be copycats. Our approach is less intrusive and more lighthearted, more like David Hockney's 'Splash!' paintings in sentiment and style."

Grinstein and Daniels remodeled the British artist's Mulholland Drive hideaway, transforming a standard California Bungalow into what Grinstein describes as "a three-dimensional Hockney" with vivid primary colors, generous skylights and eccentrically angled walls and ceilings.

The firm's distinctively urbane playfulness shines through more sober projects, such as the Mosauer apartment building in Van Nuys and the proposed Beach House Inn on Santa Monica's Main Street.

The Beach House Inn design is enlivened by wraparound balconies and undulating glass-block walls. Together, they conjure up images of Caribbean seaside architecture and L.A.'s 1930s Streamline Moderne while fitting gracefully into the fashionable avenue.

"The context in which one of our designs is set is always a major factor in the style of the building," Daniels said.

"In the Western Avenue KFC we honored the commonplace commercial vernacular of the surrounding strip and gave it both a literal and a figurative twist.

"A formally graceful design, such as Chaya Venice, would have been too polite for the district, and wrong for a fast-food outlet. By accepting the jumbled architecture of the area and heightening its theatricality, we hope we've enhanced its attraction."

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