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With modern architecture spotlighted, PST series looks beyond landmarks

Upcoming exhibitions highlight L.A. architects of the 1960s and '70s who challenged orthodox modernism.

March 08, 2013|By Christopher Hawthorne, Los Angeles Times Architecture Critic

There's sure to be much to pore over in "Overdrive: L.A. Constructs the Future, 1940-1990," the ambitious anchor show of the Getty's Pacific Standard Time series on modern architecture in and around Los Angeles. But it's on the periphery of this giant undertaking, which is funding nine major exhibitions and will sprawl across the calendar from early spring to midsummer, where the real surprises are most likely to be found. That's especially true of the shows aiming to look beyond well-known midcentury landmarks and reassess the work of the L.A. architects who emerged in the 1960s and '70s and challenged orthodox modernism in a range of ways.

"A Confederacy of Heretics"

In 1979, architect Thom Mayne, who'd helped found the Southern California Institute of Architecture as a student several years before, opened an impromptu architecture gallery in his home in Venice, near the original SCI-Arc campus in Santa Monica. In a series of 10 weeklong shows it presented work by young L.A. architects including Fred Fisher, current SCI-Arc director Eric Owen Moss, Craig Hodgetts and Robert Mangurian. A PST show will look back at those exhibitions. But don't expect fawning (or at least not too much of it). Curators Todd Gannon, Ewan Branda and Andrew Zago promise "neither to canonize the participating architects nor to consecrate their unorthodox activities."

Southern California Institute of Architecture. March 29 to July 7. http://www.sciarc.edu

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"Everything Loose Will Land"

This study of the ways architecture and the art scene influenced one another in the 1970s will bring attention to an era that has recently become a subject of intense fascination among younger architects. The show, curated by UCLA historian Sylvia Lavin and designed by the L.A. architect Mark Lee, features work by artists including Robert Smithson and Judy Chicago and architects including Frank Gehry, Ray Kappe and Charles Moore. It takes its name from an infamous Frank Lloyd Wright quote about L.A. "Tip the world over on its side," Wright once declared, "and everything loose will land in Los Angeles."

MAK Center at the Schindler House, West Hollywood. May 9 to Aug. 4. http://www.makcenter.org

"Field Guide to Los Angeles Architecture"

Among PST's least gallery-bound offerings, one highlight will surely be this contribution from Echo Park's Machine Project. The gallery and art center asked local and national artists to create performances, lectures and other events inside a number of architectural landmarks, including buildings by Rudolph Schindler and Gehry, and along the L.A. freeways.

May 1 to July 7 at locations around Los Angeles. http://www.machineproject.com

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"Le Corbusier: An Atlas of Landscapes"

Beyond Los Angeles, architectural and curatorial life goes on, of course. The big architectural event of the season on the East Coast will be a new exhibition on the work of Swiss-French modernist architect Le Corbusier at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Curated by the historian Jean-Louis Cohen, the show promises, in Cohen's words, to "present a new, different Le Corbusier." Cohen is specifically hoping to chip away at the long-held notion that Le Corbusier's buildings were unresponsive or indifferent to the landscapes — natural or man-made — around them. Remarkably, it is the first comprehensive exhibition the Modern has ever organized on Le Corbusier, arguably the single most influential architect of the last century.

Museum of Modern Art, New York. June 9 to Sept. 23. http://www.moma.org

christopher.hawthorne@latimes.com

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