Reading L.A. with Christopher Hawthorne

casestudy22.jpgThe L.A. Times architecture critic announced today that he will read and post brief blog essays over the next year on "25 of the most significant books on Southern California architecture and urbanism, moving chronologically."

Los Angeles, with its car-dominated landscape and unusually dense brand of sprawl, can be a slippery place to get a handle on. As the architect Charles Moore put it in the introduction to "The City Observed: Los Angeles," the 1984 guidebook he wrote with Peter Becker and Regula Campbell, L.A. requires "an altogether different plan of attack" -- on the part of architects, historians and critics alike -- than more traditionally organized cities do.

L.A.'s champions, critics and chroniclers have come up with a remarkably diverse collection of such plans of attack over the decades, some building atop the ones that came before and others wholly, even radically new. Making sense of them is among the major goals of Reading L.A., a yearlong project I'll be kicking off this month and that will appear throughout 2011 on Culture Monster.

Thomas Hines, Reyner Banham, William Deverell, Richard Longstreth, Esther McCoy and D.J. Waldie are all represented, as they would have to be, but there will be no fiction and only one anthology. Glad to see on the list: "L.A Freeway: An Appreciative Essay," by David Brodsly from 1981.

Photo: LA Observed


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