L.A. Rising

Photos by Debra DiPaolo

1. HSI Productions, Hayden Tract, Culver City (Tom Farrage, Scott Nakao, 2001). The virtually handmade interior and factorylike Bauhaus exterior are a testimony to the resonant surfaces and forms of hot- and cold-rolled steel. The glass-enclosed conference room, jutting from the main building, is a fishbowl subversion of the usual corporate power structure.

2. Disney Hall, Bunker Hill, Los Angeles (Frank O. Gehry & Associates, in progress). A few strategic glimpses may still be had of the steel girding that will support the titanium skin. The brutal geometry of all those tons of steel conveys the structure’s inner inelegance, like a faulty mathematical proof. In its present incomplete state, Disney Hall is a revelation of the splendors of engineering in the service of a nearly inexpressible art.

3. Stealth Building, Hayden Tract, Culver City (Eric Owen Moss, 2001). Interior space as a mutable, unconfining possibility, with velocity — you feel like you can take off. The black façade begins as a rectangle and becomes a wedge, giving it the appearance of the fighter jet. You either love it or you hate it.

4. SCI-Arc, Depot Building, Los Angeles (Gary Paige, 2001). Beyond salvaging for reuse the longest concrete structure in town — a former railroad depot with 120 bays open on both sides — Paige’s emphatically simple building within an existing building permits the disorderly, the unpredictable, the serendipitous to flow in from the ragged edge of downtown and back out again to the city at large.

5. City Hall, Los Angeles (Austin, Parkinson and Martin, 1928; restoration, Brenda Levin, 2001). Its stature as the tallest building in Los Angeles has never been eclipsed, because it never glowers back, or down, on the public it represents. It always soars. Despite lobbyists in charcoal suits monopolizing the hallways and detachments of police manning the exterior barricades, City Hall still allows a citizen to feel among equals.

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