Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Does Anyone At The LA Times Know ANYTHING About LA? Editorial Page Blunders Again!


After getting California's bond ratings history under Governor Schwarzenegger dead wrong - and then getting the Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor's record even more staggeringly wrong - the LA Times Editorial Page now gets something more local... equally dead wrong.

See below:

This may be Gehry's first realized skyscraper, though not the first he has designed. Currently Southern California's favorite son, Gehry was spurned as the new financial-district spires of Los Angeles grew over several decades. He did his most acclaimed pre-Disney work for the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain (the building that put the sagging industrial city on the international tourism map).

First, the more technical point - several skyscrapers Gehry has or is designing around the world may more likely be built before the one on Grand Avenue, though it could still be the first. But the real blunder is that they stated that his work on the Guggenheim Museum was done BEFORE his work on Disney Hall.

Wrong, wrong, wrong.


Gehry's essential design - which greatly prefigured the Guggenheim - was done a number of years BEFORE he did the design of Bilbao. Now granted Bilbao was built before Disney due to financing problems in LA, but the creative design work was done long BEFORE the Guggenheim, and not after, as anyone who lives in LA would/should know.

But, of course, since no one at the top of the masthead of the LA Times was anywhere near LA back then, none of them has any of idea about anything that happened in this city longer ago than say.... five minutes ago.

And that is the biggest tragedy of the LA Times, and this city.


In a piece of wonderful irony - looking into the files of the LA Times - even the architecture critic of the Chicago Tribune - Blair Kamin - writing in the LA Times recognizes that the Disney Hall design was done before Bilbao.

The origins of Disney Hall reach back to 1987, when the now-deceased Lillian Disney made a $50 million gift for a new concert hall in honor of her late husband, Walt, who was born in Chicago on Dec. 5, 1901, in a simple frame cottage at 2156 N. Tripp Ave.

A year later, Gehry won a design competition for the project, which would replace the neighboring Dorothy Chandler Pavilion as the home of the Los Angeles Philharmonic. But a spiraling budget and management problems almost scuttled the effort. A groundbreaking for the hall wasn't held until late 1999. Miraculously, though, Gehry's original design concept survived and has become better with tweaking.

And in 'Art In America' - to put a finer point on this:

Disney Hall may have been built out of historic sequence--its design was begun several years before the Guggenheim Bilbao (1991-97) but finished six years after, in late 2003--yet it is culturally more significant because Disney Hall was the site of invention, the building that inaugurated Gehry's long, rich series of curvilinear structures that have repositioned the art of architecture and raised the bar of the discipline.

Two more quibbles. First, the LAT's Editorial Page seems to be unaware that the long awaited new Ralph's Supermarket is already under construction in the heart of downtown; hence any new one will NOT be the badly needed supermarket:

If Gehry isn't chosen, it is expected that he will have something to say about that and other buildings in the mixed development (including a badly needed downtown grocery store).

And as for the painting of Eli Broad as the villain in the Disney Hall story....

(Gehry's) fights with philanthropist and former housing developer Eli Broad over the adjacent Disney Hall, for instance, were legendary. In the end, Gehry out-waited Broad and essentially got the daring design he wanted.

... that is more than a little dishonest.

While they did fight over the costs of aspects of the design, if it wasn't for Eli Broad's leadership and his shaming of the elite of LA into paying for the building, Gehry's design would have likely never been built. But, of course, that all happened long before the current leadership of the Times was in LA.

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