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L.A.'s Future Should Include Grand Designs

August 02, 2004

Re "One Little Thing Is Missing," editorial, July 29: The project of remaking downtown Los Angeles should not be limited to the interests of "those with brand-name tastes and fat wallets." The public authority overseeing this project should find ways to access public opinion, if not involve the public whose interests it is designed to serve. Los Angeles is a diverse, dynamic and complex region, and Angelenos deserve a city center that reflects these traits.

One day I hope that visitors will see an architectural design that reflects the city's soul as much as its commerce. In traveling throughout Europe this summer, I was struck by how European cities honor not only their great political and business leaders but also their literary and artistic personages. I think about Paris' busts of Victor Hugo, the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam and Trier's preservation of Karl Marx's birthplace.

Would it be too much to ask how Grand Avenue could enable us to remember L.A.'s imaginative cultural history and at the same time allow us to dream of a number of possible futures for this great city?

Augusto Espiritu

Irvine

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Downtown's appeal and property values could soar with a simple solution. Start at the 10 Freeway and Union Station and backhoe everything toward Long Beach that we can afford. Catch the L.A. River and build a lake that would make the edge of Little Tokyo and Boyle Heights water-front property. Let market forces do the rest, instead of decades of piecemeal waste. Just don't name it after a politician.

R.A. Brustlin

Los Angeles

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Re "The Architecture of Rebirth," editorial, July 26:

Thank you for shining your light on a pivotal piece of development pending in the Downtown Arts District. You are correct: What happens to this last, large piece of undeveloped land at Santa Fe between Traction and Third will either nourish and enhance the soul of our district or be the death knell of our tenacious but fragile eco-socio-politico environment.

The Southern California Institute of Architecture has certainly been an innovative and wonderful neighbor that was welcomed into the district not only by the city but by the artists who call it home. (In my building, they've called it home since 1989.) And not to cavil, but before SCI-Arc, before the recent wave of downtown conversions to lofts west of us, this was a vital, dynamic and concerned community. In only the last six years, we have banded together to defeat one after another inappropriate proposal for development.

Community members who far predate the current dispute have fought hard to help guide the destiny of this historic district -- which, by the way, may be gritty, and might be dodgy, but in the many years I've been living here, has never been abandoned.

Katie McArthy

Los Angeles

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