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A school to be proud of

May 10, 2008

Re "A towering absurdity," column, May 4

Steve Lopez pokes a great deal of fun at the design and scope of L.A.'s new public high school for the arts.

What Lopez ought to be comparing it to is the average public school: an unimaginative edifice that could never spark the exploration and invention we so desperately need in our schools. That is why I strongly support the efforts of Eli Broad and L.A. Unified Supt. David L. Brewer to build an arts high school that is also a bold piece of public architecture.

Yes, as Lopez states, a high school could have been built for far less. But not an extraordinary arts campus with a soaring tower and a world-class theater; not a school that is as dynamic and interactive as arts education must be. And shouldn't Los Angeles, one of the world's capitals of the arts, start taking arts education far more seriously?

As for Lopez's view of the building's design, I can only note that Pablo Picasso and Henri Matisse were first met with criticism. Yet we are still talking about their work, still challenged and inspired by it -- which is more than we can say for the public schools built in their lifetimes.

Wallis Annenberg

Los Angeles

Lopez completely misses the point. Yes, Broad's heavy-handed influence should have been kept out of the school construction process, but the Los Angeles Board of Education allowed him to essentially redesign the school, which delayed the project for years and easily added more than $100 million to the project's cost.

The responsibility for this waste rests clearly with the school board members, whose failure of proper oversight permitted this to happen.

Charlotte Meyer

Calabasas

In the architectural desert called Los Angeles, where a few masterpieces are buried in the provincial, nondescript junk, one should welcome a bold gesture. Lopez finds it to be a "towering absurdity." Does he find the typical L.A. Unified barracks more attractive and inspiring for the gifted kids?

There is one point, however, on which I agree with Lopez: Let Broad cough up $230 million and rename the school Eli High.

Vladimir Paperny

Marina del Rey

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