L.A. Looks Ugly; But Is That So Wrong?

The quality of L.A.'s public structures falls far below its remarkable private residences. Greg Goldin argues why we should see the beauty in its greatest creations: its infrastructure and evolving collection of noisy storefronts.
Omar Omar / Flickr

"On the list of path-breaking private houses [in Los Angeles] is everything from Irving Gill’s Dodge House of 1916 to Tadao Ando’s Malibu residence, still under construction," notes Goldin. "Yet the list of path-breaking public structures is pitifully short, especially for a city that has been a mecca for architectural talent."

"Given this dismal record of public structures, can we even say architecture has mattered to Los Angeles?"

Goldin explains why "in the world’s first modern and almost purely 'infrastructural city,” the "greatest public monuments...are not buildings at all." And he has special praise for the "noisy clash of storefronts vying ceaselessly for attention—in a multiplicity of languages, scripts, fonts, colors, and materials."

"Outwardly, it appears messy, even ugly, especially to outsiders," he concludes. "It is also what gives our city its life and vitality. Without this percolating, mutable, and, yes, frustrating form, Los Angeles would be a city with less visual clutter—and a far duller place."

Full Story: L.A. Only Looks Ugly

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