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STYLE: DESIGN : Sites Specific

June 27, 1993|BARBARA THORNBURG

They commemorate skyscrapers, forts, castles, dams, even the Great Pyramids of Egypt. Many do double duty as bookends, banks, clocks, jewelry boxes, paperweights, lamps or pencil sharpeners. And now, more than 100 palm-sized buildings are on display through Oct. 6 at Hope Street Gallery (400 S. Hope St.) in Los Angeles.

Sixty of the diminutive landmarks are part of the 1,400-piece collection assembled over the last six years by David Weingarten of Ace Architects in Oakland. "There's a special pleasure I take as an architect in little buildings," he says. "They're a lot of fun, and they encourage me to see real buildings in fresh ways."

The vest-pocket buildings reached their zenith as travel and special-event souvenirs in the early teens and '20s, when they were usually cast in lead from remarkably detailed molds. Before that, the miniatures were made of iron and crudely finished. Later, many were cast in pot metal; today, most are plastic.

So why spend an average $25 a pop on these tiny monuments? "There's something very satisfying about holding a building, or several of them, in your hands."

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