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September 19, 2002

Free Reads -- L.A. Cathedral Redux

Friedrich --

Paul Goldberger of the New Yorker reacts to the new, Rafael Moneo-designed, Our Lady of the Angels cathedral in L.A., here. Though, to be honest, it's hard to tell quite how he's reacting. Praise-quickly-retracted follows on criticism-quickly-hedged, over and over.

Give Me that Big-Box Religion

Goldberger's a strange one. He's much more broadminded than most establishment architecture critics, willing not only to acknowledge that such phenonomena as the New Urbanism and the New Classicism exist but also to treat them semi-respectfully. But he seems terrified that if he goes too far -- either in lacing into the absurdities of late Modernism or in praising non-avant-garde work -- he'll lose his establishment membership card. (He's probably right.)

I can only guess, of course, but my impression from his amazingly waffly piece is that Goldberger really doesn't like the new cathedral one bit. How do you read him?

Sample passage:

The new cathedral has more in common with the familiar Los Angeles megabox. It's a big, horizontal mass, like the Beverly Center, the vast shopping mall built atop a parking structure; and the Pacific Design Center, a beached whale in blue glass; and the factorylike Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. I don't say this to be disrespectful. I think Moneo has tried to take a particular kind of Los Angeles building and make it into something spiritual, although it's not a natural leap.



posted by Michael at September 19, 2002


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