“Now I know subjective opinions can vary, but personally I reckon LA as the noisiest, the smelliest, the most uncomfortable and most uncivilized major city in the United States. In short, a stinking sewer …”
Journalist Adam Raphael for The Guardian in 1968
There you go Angelenos! That was the world opinion of our great city during the time. Architectural experts and intellectuals energetically maintained this rough outlook of the City of Angels. Then, along came a British architectural expert, well respected in his profession. A man with a shaggy beard and bad teeth, who proclaimed and professed his love for Los Angeles and its architecture. His book, Los Angeles: The Architecture of Four Ecologies became one of the most energetically pro-Los Angeles books ever written. Reyner Banham put his love for Los Angeles into words and rocked the architectural world! His book continually lands on lists of great books about modern cities, even amongst critics whose opinion continues to oppose Banham.
Reyner Banham was an English architectural critic and prolific writer best known for his theoretical treatise Theory and Design in the First Machine Age (1960) and for his 1971 book Los Angeles: The Architecture of Four Ecologies. In the latter, he categorized the Los Angeles experience into four ecological models (Surfurbia, Foothills, The Plains of Id, and Autopia) and explored the distinct architectural cultures of each ecology. Banham worked in London, but lived primarily in the United States from the late 1960s until the end of his life. Banham also had a stint teaching at USC, during which time he lived in Pasadena in the renowned Gamble House. His perceptions and writing redefined the way the architectural experts, and the world, perceived our great city.
“Los Angeles offers radical alternatives to almost every urban concept in unquestioned currency.”
Banham believed the most unique value of Los Angeles is that it offers radical alternatives to almost every urban concept.
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