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The LAX theme building looked so beautiful encased in scaffolding. For the two years of the renovation I made all my flights out of LAX, even though I live closer to Burbank.
If you lived in New York, you grew up calling Edward Durell Stone's Huntington Hartford the lollipop building. Tom Wolfe said there is scarcely anyone living under the age of 60 who ever set foot in the original museum. I never did. I miss it terribly now that it is gone.
tent of tomorrow
Janet and Virgil and I rode the subway out to Flushing Corona Meadows to visit the 1964 World’s Fair ruins. The Tent of Tomorrow structure and the crumbling observation towers are from Philip Johnson's design for the New York State Pavilion. Janet’s sister reminded her that she went to the fair with their family, but Janet doesn’t remember anything from her childhood except for the colors and textures of certain bedspreads.
Mom: I remember the big globe
Me: I have a picture of you standing in front of it. You're wearing a yellow knit suit. You look like Jackie Kennedy. Where was I? Did you leave me at Grandma's?
Mom: We must have left you at Grandma's. Ask your father. He remembers more.
I need to see Kisho Kurokawa's Nakagin Capsule Tower before it is demolished. It is one of the few built examples of the Japanese Metabolist movement and I’ve read some of Kurokawa’s writings about modern man, and his urban philosophy of capsule dwelling. Yasuko told me she saw him speak in Tokyo when he was at the height of his powers—handsome, dark haired, confident.
I was teaching in New England and it snowed every week but the school had a great architecture library, so I read everything I could about Bertram Goldberg. His painful break with Mies van der Rohe. His criticism that "architects have always worked for the rich." His idealism about community and the built environment , embodied in all these round buildings.
Chicago people call the Marina City corncobs but I’m told they say it affectionately.
This building is older than I am, but let me tell you a story. When I first came to LA, I did that thing everyone does, I got a crappy apartment in Hollywood where I was lonely and had three jobs. I walked everywhere because you know what parking is like in that neighborhood. Capitol Records was my landmark as I daily stepped on the names the names of forgotten celebrities buried in the sidewalk.
I like to imagine Capitol Records buried in scaffolding, floating in a cloud of scaffolding.
Becket claimed to have no interest in expressing a personal sensibility but all of the firm's buildings are so easy to recognize.
I always found the Space Needle a little too obvious. It would look mysterious partially erased by scaffolding, receding into the overcast Seattle sky.
In the 1990's, Ambassador Christian College abandoned its strange amalgam of turn of the century mansions and quirky modern buildings. It is the best place in Pasadena for mild, unpunished trespassing. The buildings are decaying but the grounds are immaculate. Sometimes you find a light switch that still turns something on, which is very exciting.
Critics say Century Plaza hotel is not an important Minoru Yamasaki building, maybe because it wasn't blown up by airplanes. I took pictures of the hotel from across the street at the CAA agency, I was thinking about Nixon and the Apollo 11 astronauts dining together in the ballroom. Watching the hotel was like watching someone you think you know from across the room at a party, and slowly seeing them in another way. The agents and valets were giving me dirty looks because I had a big camera and I was near the talent. They couldn’t see what I was looking at. I mean they really couldn’t see it.
People in San Francisco make fun of the Cathedral of Saint Mary of the Assumption by comparing it to a washing machine agitator, despite their uncritical tolerance of rainbow colors on Victorian row houses. I became fascinated by the reflection of apartment buildings across the street framed by the travertine.
This used to be Union Savings and Loan, another Becket building- see what I mean? It's across from LAX parking lot C so I drive by it all the time. The interior lobby doors are chained shut and the phones have been torn out of the phone booths. The crumbling façade is being used as a billboard for Van’s sneakers. No one cares about saving this building. I don’t want to feel this sad about it but I do.