‘34’ architects in name only

Times Staff Writer

Last summer, when Cal State Fullerton’s Grand Central Art Center in Santa Ana presented “100 Artists See Satan,” curator Mike McGee attributed the odd fact that there were 115 artists in the show to “demonic math” -- and an attempt to make a tongue-in-cheek comment on an earlier exhibition, “100 Artists See God.”

The forces behind “34 Los Angeles Architects,” on display through Feb. 22 at A + D Museum of architecture and design in West Hollywood, aren’t blaming demons but busy architects’ schedules for the fact that “34 Architects” actually displays the work of only 31.

“You cannot imagine how difficult it is to round up 34 very busy professionals,” says public relations director Ann Videriksen. “One was stuck in China, one was in Europe....”


The cancellations took place at the last minute -- too late to change press information or all those futuristic graphics that contemporary architects tend to put on their posters, books and stuff. Besides, Videriksen adds somewhat sternly, “I don’t think it’s important -- what’s important is what’s in the show.”

We don’t think it’s important, either -- which is why a Times reporter actually looked at the displays while counting them. Each architect fits a presentation of work into a 6-foot-by-2-foot diamond-shaped tower, designed by Lorcan O’Herlihy, architecture firm No. 17 on the alphabetical list (that would be No. 16, now).

All 34 -- er, 31 -- make use of the towers except Michael Maltzan, who instead presents “a small reading library” of books of art, criticism and literature that have informed his work. “The show was in some way supposed to be about an architect’s inspiration, and we took it quite literally,” Maltzan says. “Bring a chair.”

Certainly a follow-up call to no-show Craig Hodgetts of Hodgetts + Fung represents no attempt to scold. “Basically, the work we’ve committed to do outweighed the benefits of doing the show. I’ve got egg on my face,” Hodgetts says. Nor would it serve a purpose to mention the other absentee firms, Studio Works and William Adams Architects.

Even without counting, a visitor can’t help but note that the man behind downtown’s Walt Disney Concert Hall, Frank Gehry, is not on this list of Los Angeles architects. Videriksen points out -- again, sternly -- that if one had taken the trouble to read the exhibition book (on sale for $15 at the desk), one would know that certain architects who are already in the public spotlight were deliberately excluded. “I believe that’s spelled out,” she says. “It isn’t just Frank Gehry, it’s also Eric Moss, and Thom Mayne.”

Perfectly understandable. However, if Gehry, Moss and Mayne were in the show, it really would be 34 architects. But who’s counting?