Today’s show is about preserving the past while building our future. The impetus for the show was the recent news that Richard Neutra’s 1955 Kronish House in Beverly Hills might be demolished. The house was photographed last April by photographer Marc Angeles who kindly let us use this marvelous image, left, and told us about this experience photographing a Neutra house that has remained closed from the public for many years: “The Neutra-designed house is set back off of busy Sunset Blvd and lies deep in the property, and is approached only by a long driveway. The entire property is surrounded by mature trees and foliage. The setting was very calm and serene, and it felt extremely private. I’m quite surprised at how at how quiet and peaceful it was. The residence itself has a welcoming presence with a great floor plan and flow, but is not in the best shape and is in need of major restoration. The bones are definitely still there, and I could only imagine what this residence would be like fully restored to its original glory. It would be a shame to see such an historic treasure and work of art to be demolished.”
Another impetus was an exhibit, called Rethink LA, Perspectives on a Future City: that considers a future as imaginative as Neutra’s progressive ideas were in the past. Rethink LA is the product of some great talent: co-curator Jonathan Louie (who has had some fascinating prior experience working with leading Rotterdam architects MDRDV and OMA) and a collaborative team of video-makers, exhibit designers, photographers and artists, architects and planners who gave of their time and ideas, among them Kellie Konapelsky, Jae Won Cho (beautiful exhibit design); Maya Santos and Orly Shuber who put together videos (I’m on one them along with Alissa Walker (of GOOD and Fast Company) Sam Lubell, Editor of The Architects Newspaper, California Edition, is on another), Fritz Haeg and Kai Mai.
There are some fantastic before and after visions of places in LA, by such notable firms as Taalman Koch, Superunion and Lehrer Architects, for starters.
So today’s DnA show gets, I hope, at the essence of Los Angeles: a place of astonishing creativity and imagination that is in a state of flux right now — changing from a place where anything goes architecturally to one more conscious of its heritage, and from a car-based, free-flowing city to one that is denser, more confined physically and yet exciting in its possibilities for what it will become. It is to plumb themes like this that DnA exists, it is to hear from the many, many extraordinary talents in Los Angeles and beyond who are shaping our present and future, and if you think this is a conversation worth having, please support DnA and KCRW.