This week, KCRW’s friends and family turned out for a party to celebrate Press Play’s launch. Hosted by KCRW Champions Tim and Neda Disney in their contemporary Larchmont Village home, the event included a panel led by Press Play host Madeleine Brand on the re-imagining of Los Angeles’ cultural and urban landscape, a hot topic of conversation, made even more popular with the city portrayed in the film Her.
Joining Madeleine was Michael Govan of LACMA, Her production designer K.K. Barrett, and Greg Goldin, the author and co-curator of last year’s Never Built Los Angeles exhibit that asked the question, “why is Los Angeles a hotbed of great architects, yet so lacking in urban innovation?”
A lively discussion — filled with contradictions and friendly taunts — ensued, where the filmmaker, author, and Wizard of Oz (as Madeleine referred to Govan) contemplated the past reinventing itself, social stratification, top down versus bottom up city planning (or lack thereof), public art, blurring the landscape for the sake of storytelling, and the merits of vertical versus horizontal.
Govan, largely an optimist, championed the “freedom and diversity” as what will ultimately distinguish Los Angeles, rather than a top down planning hierarchy that has yet to take hold. “We’re the most multicultural and diverse of the new metropolis’. There is no hierarchy,” said Govan. He also gushed about his affection for the Watts Towers, and LACMA’s ongoing effort to restore the iconic monument.
Barrett’s intention with the film was to “ask questions and answer none,” and deliberately created an open, familiar, yet indistinct landscape that guided audiences’ focus on the storyline. “We didn’t want to make a statement on stratification… We had rules — no cars, no logos, no sport shoes… The city was blurred a little so we could put ourselves in it.”
Goldin, the realist, was more sobering. When asked what places comes to mind when it comes to LA, he answered Atlantic Avenue in North Long Beach and referenced the poverty and lack of jobs. He does agree that Los Angeles is finally positioned to embrace density, “the question is settled — we’re going up.”
For more photos of the event, click here.
To listen to the full discussion, check it out here: