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Wilshire Center

In his corporate designs architect Charles Moore takes a somewhat restrained Post-Modern approach to the architectural language of space. His preliminary designs for recent projects reveal that, while he borrows freely from world wide architectural aesthetics, his designs are always inhibited by the necessity of function (and no doubt by client involvement). Only rarely, as in the drawings for the lobby of the Trinova Corporate Headquarters in Toledo, Ohio, where walls and floors unexpectedly open up onto an arching dome do we see flashes of the planner’s underlying amusement in the improbable possibilities of space and design.

Those possibilities get ample play in the small “Memory Palaces” he fabricates for his own enjoyment. Each “Palace” is a boxlike construction, similar in frontality to a stage design maquette for a theater production.

Moore uses the small scale architectural environments he creates in each “Palace” to playfully but very intelligently examine the language of architecture. “Portals that Bespeak” is a series of gray and white doorways, post and lintel openings, and strange winding stairways that lead inward to what looks to be a labyrinth of suggested passages. In this piece openings are central--the orifices that invite entrance. But in “Walls that Layer” it is the division of space by walls layered like the skin of an onion that becomes the dominant feature of the scene. Space itself becomes layered and mysterious, divided by wall sections cut and stacked like stage scenery stored between acts.

As architectural pipe dreams these miniatures are loaded with fragments drawn together from cultures as diverse as Greece, Byzantium, Thailand and Islam. Doric pediments rub shoulders with intricate, ever-multiplying Moorish styled door frames and stairways wind like the innumerable steps in an Arabic minaret or Busby Berkeley musical. Space is alternately treated as a flowing, expanding vapor in one piece and a solid that can be cut up like fruit on a plate in another. Even if it is pure whimsy, it’s an intriguing examination of the language of architecture. (Kirsten Kiser, 964 N. La Brea Ave., to Oct. 22.)

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