Defining Los Angeles

Writing on the topic of Los Angeles Times Architecture Critic Christopher Hawthorne's year-long series exploring the city through its literature, Nate Berg talks to the author about his critical touchstones and common themes.

Hawthorne's undertaking, in which the author read and appraised 27 of the "most significant books on Southern California architecture and urbanism" over the past year, was driven by "a desire to highlight interesting works on the city, but also to push himself out of his comfort zone in terms of his knowledge and understanding of the city."

Hawthorne places three key works at the top of his canon: Carey McWilliams' 1946 Southern California: An Island on the Land, Reyner Banham's 1971 Los Angeles: The Architecture of Four Ecologies, and Mike Davis' 1990 City of Quartz.

At this key period in the region's history, "What the books have suggested to me," Hawthorne argues, "is that we really don't have – and need – a new framework for understanding the city at this moment in its history as it undergoes this transition."

Full Story: The Struggle to Define L.A.'s Transitional Moment


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