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Architect Sees L.A. as a Laboratory for the Rest of the Country

August 22, 1993|CHRISTINA V. GODBEY

Architect Chet Widom has designed some of the region's most unusual buildings. Among those that bear his stamp are the Gene Autry Western Heritage Museum, the Venice Family Clinic and the Pep Boys corporate headquarters.

In June, Widom was elected first vice president and president-elect of the American Institute of Architects, putting him in line to become the first Californian to head the 55,000-member organization in more than three decades. He will assume the presidency in 1995.

"I have a number of goals that affect us nationally as well as for our community," said Widom, 53, a Los Angeles native and a graduate of USC. "The problems in Los Angeles are a laboratory for the rest of the country. . . . I hope we can take some of these positive forces and put them to work across the country."

Widom is the founding partner of Widom Wein Cohen, a 27-year-old architectural firm in Santa Monica. He has long been active in the AIA, serving as the organization's California regional director and as president of governmental affairs. Among his achievements was the creation of a task force to save taxpayer dollars by reforming conflicting design and construction rules for public projects.

Widom also is founder, a past president and still a board member of Alternative Living for the Aging, a nonprofit organization formed to develop alternatives to institutional living for senior citizens. Among its projects have been the establishment of a housemate matching service and the development of living arrangements modeled after co-ops.

"People come to architects to do good things," Widom said. "Traditionally, architects have made it easier for people to live. The challenge is even higher in Los Angeles with the changes in the way we earn our livings. I hope to have a positive effect in really changing and making life a little more gentle."

Widom said he became interested in architecture--by accident--as a teen-ager. After a teacher encouraged him to try drafting, he discovered an interest in building and constructing models.

"I decided to become an architect because it was an incredible opportunity to change the world," he said. There is satisfaction, he said, with the completion of a successful project in which "people are living better or working better because of something I contributed."


Beverly Hills resident Phillip Hong has won a $10,000 scholarship at UCLA in recognition of his scholastic achievements. A recent graduate of Beverly Hills High School, Hong was awarded the UCLA Foundation/Edward Dickson Memorial/Gold Shield Scholarship. He will enter UCLA this fall.


Tom Pyne of Santa Monica has been selected by the Healthcare Forum to serve as a fellow in the San Francisco organization's Creating Healthier Communities Fellowship Program.

The fellowship program seeks to develop strategies and programs that improve community health.

Pyne, assistant to the president at St. John's Hospital and Health Center in Santa Monica, will focus on programs for elementary school children in his project, "Healthy Kids 2000." He was one of 38 fellows chosen from health-care administrators, physicians and public health officials in the United States and Canada to take part in the program.


County Board of Supervisors Chairman Ed Edelman has reappointed Sybil Brand to the Los Angeles County Institutional Inspections Commission.

Brand, a Beverly Hills resident, has served as an appointee to the commission for more than four decades. She is a longtime social services volunteer and philanthropist; the Sybil Brand Institute for Women, in Monterey Park, is named for her.

Commissioners' duties include inspecting jails and other detention centers in Los Angeles County and reporting the condition of such facilities to the Board of Supervisors.


Shelia Goodwin was awarded a summer study grant by the National Endowment for the Humanities.

A teacher at Bel Air Preparatory School, Goodwin studied the writings of Michel Eyquem de Montaigne, a 16th-Century French essayist, during a four-week seminar at Whitman College in Walla Walla, Wash.


Clinical psychologist Louise Evans was awarded an honorary life fellowship in the International Biographical Assn.

Evans, a Los Angeles resident, was honored for her professional achievements and philanthropic activities. She was recently selected as a "World Intellectual of 1993" by the International Biographical Centre in England.

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