ThaWilsonBlock Magazine Issue56

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Robert Winter, father of LA Architecture, Questions the Motive of Real Estate Developers in Pasadena

Robert Winter at home in the Batchelder House in Pasadena.

How do you he describe LA's current architectural landscape?

RW: That's wonderful. That's just wonderful. I remember when I taught at UCLA [after World War II], I lived first on Wilshire Boulevard, but then I got an apartment in Santa Monica. And I wouldn't have recommended anybody coming to Santa Monica. And now, like, my god, it's a changed place. And all around it ...

The best building in town in my estimation is the Frank Gehry Disney Hall. It makes me proud when I see that. When I used to go to concerts there, I carried a cane. It's no place for people with problems! Because no carpets on the floor and nothing to hold onto. But I remember with such pleasure going in. And the exterior is just lovely. The library and City Hall and so on still stand beautifully. But what gets me is when I first came to Los Angeles, I taught at UCLA, and in Westwood, you had the feeling that you didn't have to go anywhere else. I didn't have exactly that feeling, because I knew about Greene and Greene and all the people and how good Pasadena was... 

 

There are a lot of mixed-users and apartment complexes being built today that all look the same and are cheap-looking. Do you think someday in the future, Angelenos will think these buildings are cool, sort of like how dingbats are now popular?

I don't want to predict too far into the future. You know what's going on at Walnut and Lake in Pasadena. Where are all those people going to come from? I don't think anybody made a study whether these are needed or not. And that totally goes against the idea of Pasadena, which was a suburb.

So the idea that it's advancing into the future heroically, it's so absurd. I'm not sure what the motivation is. I think it's probably a developer sees open land, and they think money, and they want to increase density. Right up to the sidewalk. It's not Pasadena. But I don't want to be an old fogy. And if they put lower-income people in those houses, eventually, it's a great advance...

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