From Lautner to Curbed LA, Brenda Levin, FAIA, Responds to the (Semi-Official) 2015 AIA|LA Presidential Awards Questionnaire
“…my first job was with John Lautner.”
When we sent Brenda Levin, FAIA, the semi-official 2015 Presidential Honoree Q&A seeking Los Angeles first, lasts, favorites and influences, we knew we’d get back a riveting perspective of the city. After all, in addition to ground up work, through design, Levin has brought Los Angeles’ most iconic buildings back to life: The Bradbury Building, Griffith Observatory, Los Angeles City Hall, Grand Central Market, Dodger Stadium. But “…my first job was with John Lautner” stopped us short.
Levin is the recipient of numerous significant honors. This year, she’s being honored for her contributions to the Building Team of the Year responsible for The Hercules Campus at Playa Vista. Here then her wondrous perspective of Los Angeles.
Celebrate Brenda and the Building Team of the Year at the 2015 AIA|LA Design Awards, Thursday, October 29, 2015. Purchase tickets here.
AIA|LA: What was the first Los Angeles building (and relevant architect) to influence you?
Brenda Levin, FAIA: I was introduced to the Bradbury Building on my first day in LA in 1976 – my husband, David Abel's office (Coro Foundation) was on the third floor. The interior was such a surprise given its rather mundane exterior.
However, my first job was with John Lautner and his offices were on Hollywood Boulevard which offered a distinctly LA urban experience. His sense of spatial form, materials, master craftsmanship and connection to nature is un-paralleled.
Name a Los Angeles person, place, or thing that inspires you today and tell us why (as briefly or in as great detail as you wish).
Dr. Ed Krupp , director of Griffith Observatory for over 40 years, and my client. He is a remarkable public servant who exudes a passion for and commitment to making astronomy accessible to all. He keeps his eyes on both LA and the universe.
He guided the renovation and expansion project through the challenges of a public private partnership of funding…and as he often says: I'm in the business of small miracles – it is a small miracle to turn visitors into observers, to put them eyeball to eyeball with the cosmos. "
Favorite book or website/blog or Instagram feed?
Curbed, Calvino’s Invisible Cities and Alan Lightman’s Einstein's Dreams
What's the thing you'd most like to change about Los Angeles in the future?
Like everyone – easy mobility across the region.
What should never change in this city?
It's lack of pretense and acceptance of change.
Where is your favorite place to go in LA?
Griffith Observatory – its one of the few places you can actually view and understand the vastness of the city.