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Making a Big Deal About Tower's Design

July 22, 1990

In "Interstate Tower: Art of the Deal" (July 1), Leon Whiteson complains that the design of the Interstate tower was dictated by non-architectural deals and trade-offs. The thrust of the article is that this particular building suffers from an unusual set of economic and other compromises.

Great architecture is not created by perfect conditions and an unlimited budget. First, such conditions do not exist. Secondly, if they did, mediocre design would result from those circumstances if mediocre designers were employed.

Some of the greatest architecture has been generated by the toughest conditions when a great client and talented architect came together. Los Angeles is loaded with examples of easy deals and bad buildings.

Yes, corporate architecture sometimes can be superior, but there are only a few examples of corporate headquarter buildings in all of Southern California and maybe three or four in downtown Los Angeles. The rest are spec office buildings designed before an anchor tenant was signed (and the building named for them).

Good buildings rent for higher rates. Bad buildings attract marginal tenants who often cannot pay their rent. The shapers of our cities will eventually learn this economic truth and demand quality design no matter how many "deals" it takes to put the building together.

Maquire Thomas has consistently produced the best-looking and functioning buildings in Los Angeles but blaming bad design on "the deal" misdirects our attention and lets the developer and architect off the hook.


Los Angeles

Rosengrant is co-chairman of the Los Angeles Commercial Realty Assn.

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