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Superstar Architects Draw an Audience

September 22, 1993|BETTY GOODWIN | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Even though she said she doesn't draw, architect Elyse Grinstein said she considered the Southern California Institute of Architecture's exhibition of architectural drawings and prints a "watershed event."

"No, I don't draw in this way. I sketch, and I consider my sketches very private," Grinstein said Saturday morning at a preview brunch. Nevertheless, she said she admired the works on view, drawings by 200 other architects--superstars such as Frank O. Gehry, Aldo Rossi, Peter Eisenman, Michael Graves and Robert Venturi, and unknowns from Japan, Israel, Europe and Australia as well as across the United States. They all donated their renderings to be sold over the weekend to raise money for a scholarship endowment.

"You're seeing the whole enchilada of the world's architectural community," said Michael Rotondi, director of SCI-Arc. "We wanted to do something of great benefit to the community and to us."

No one seemed to mind that many of the images didn't resemble buildings in the slightest. "There are no threads. Self-expression is very well represented," said Julia Bloomfield, head of publications and exhibitions at the Getty Center for the History of Art. She said she was most impressed by the diversity of the exhibition. "There's never been a show like this in America that I know of. It's absolutely extraordinary."

Throughout the morning, stylish-looking people, architects and architect groupies--wearing angular eye glasses, black denim and Japanese tailoring--roamed through the school's Marina del Rey campus and debated heady topics, coffee and muffins in hand.

Serious collectors lined up early and entered as soon as the doors opened at 10. Thom Mayne, an architect on the SCI-Arc faculty who co-chaired the event, said: "Fifteen pieces went within one minute, including mine. I couldn't believe it."

"It's inspiring," said Hadley Soutter, a graduate student at the institute. "Not because of the great names, but because of the opportunity to see love and hard work. Architects work long and hard and retain enormous passion for what they do, which is rare for any profession."

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