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From Queen Anne to Moderne, an Update on L.A. Architecture


A Los Angeles guidebook that emphasizes the city's eclectic design has been updated for its third edition by author Michael Webb.

"Architecture and Design: L.A." describes itself as a selective guide to the best buildings, interiors, design resources and art facilities in Southern California.

It's a sleek pocket directory that was first published in 1994 as the "Architects Guide to Los Angeles." The new edition has doubled in size with the addition of more entries, a larger index of both designers and buildings and more illustrations. But it's still concise.

"The idea was to make it slim, pocketable and easily grasped by someone who is only in town for a few days," said Webb, who writes extensively on architecture and has packed an efficient amount of information into the book's 87 pages, plus index. "Most guidebooks are too wordy."

Using maps, history and tourist tips, the paperback breaks down the Los Angeles basin's sprawling patchwork of municipalities into nine individualistic neighborhoods, with overview observations: "The stages of L.A.'s growth to the west are almost as clear as the rings on a tree, progressing from Queen Anne at the edge of downtown to the moderne of Miracle Mile," writes Webb.

Each neighborhood is sprinkled with noteworthy houses, hotels, churches, galleries and institutions, ranging from downtown's magnificent Central Library to the Sepulveda Dam, a "lean, elegant product" of 1930s engineering.

The idea is to encourage visitors to pick an area of town and explore a neighborhood that would give them a sense of context, said Webb. "There are sections of town, like the Sunset Strip, Santa Monica and West Hollywood, where the density is sufficient to let you get out and walk." The guide includes excursions to Long Beach, Santa Barbara, Palm Springs and San Diego and has a final section on art and design resources such as furniture, antique and fabric stores.

"It's designed in equal measure for people on short visits to the city and residents who want, in effect, a little black book," said Webb.

Priced at $16, the guidebook is available in museum and specialty bookstores or from the publisher, Berkeley-based Understanding Business Press, (510) 649-3730.


Web sites that work: The Hardwood Information Center at lives up to its name.

It has been redesigned into a truly user-friendly format that makes it easy to retrieve information on hardwood flooring, interior trim, furniture and a dozen other areas.

Want to compare the color and grain of maple versus cherry? A species guide will produce samples of each of the 21 major U.S. hardwoods, from ash to walnut. Thinking about new hardwood flooring? You can call up articles on everything from installing hardwood on concrete to the health benefits for allergy sufferers.

There are major sections on furniture, kitchen and baths, and decorative trim such as wainscoting, molding and built-ins. The hardwood people have come up with dozens of ideas for interior design. You can learn how to dress up boring doors, walls and windows, lifeless fireplaces and lackluster ceilings with classic hardwood moldings.

And for updates, the Web site offers an e-mail subscription form for monthly e-tips on hardwood topics from floor to ceiling and everything in between.

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