Wednesday, August 22, 2007

For each era, there is a love

“I learned to drive in order to read Los Angeles in the original” -Reyner Banham, Architecture of Four Ecologies

Reyner Banham(1922-1988) was a prolific architectural critic best known for "Theory and Design in the First Machine Age" (1960) and "Los Angeles: The Architecture of Four Ecologies" (1971). Professor Banham taught at the University of London, SUNY Buffalo and the University of California,Santa Cruz, where he was Chair of the Art History Department.

Reyner Banham was the first critic who loved Los Angeles for what she was. In the course of the love affair he had to let go of nearly everything he brought with him—his academic training, his English upbringing, the ideas of his peers—so that he could accept his beloved for herself: a city of freeways, foothills, beaches and smoggy suburbs, built on mobility and flux by a series of invaders and innovators and populated by the armies they brought in their wake.

In this city on the edge of the western dream, nothing was like what came before. Status was no longer communicated through the construction of stone palaces that looked like they fought every step of the journey over the Rocky Mountains, but rather by freeway access and wacky drive-thrus, light, ventilation, organic design and a sensitivity to a built environment— commercial and architectural innovations which would have been unthinkable anywhere and anytime else.

Gone was the unified vision of a city, and yet there was a method to L.A.'s madness. What Reyner saw was something far more complicated: behind this urban sprawl was a pattern, almost a language, which could not be understood through old modes of architectural and urban criticism, but which had to be viewed through the organic facts of its own ecologies.

Esotouric guides Richard Schave, Nathan Marsak and Kim Cooper all studied under Banham as undergraduates at UCSC, and each was deeply influenced by his work. In Fall 2007, [they] launch "Reyner Banham Loves Los Angeles" in tribute to [their] late professor, who showed [them their] native Southern California through fresh eyes.

--Taken From Esotouric's Website.

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