May 2011

Editor’s Note

Architecture and design are applications of practical magic. Its practitioners must apply the immutable laws of physics to transform imagination into three-dimensional realities. Southern California has a rich history of nurturing the efforts of such magicians, and we honor them in “50 Titans of Design.” You’ll find works from all the usual suspects—as well as some surprises.

Right now, all eyes are on Mexico City’s extraordinary aluminum-clad, windowless Soumaya Museum. In “Starship Enterprise,” Los Angeles Times architecture critic Christopher Hawthorne writes about the structure Carlos Slim Helú—richest man in the world—built to house his personal art collection.

Architecture is integral to the evolution of a building. “Act 2,” by design & culture editor Mayer Rus, traces how Roy McMakin reimagined a home not once but twice for the same owner. If you’ve driven along Santa Monica Boulevard, you’ve no doubt seen the public face of the purported oldest house in Beverly Hills, but Jason Schmidt’s photography lets you feel its heart.

Jamey Stillings’ remarkable photographs documenting the construction of the Mike O’Callaghan-Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge, which spans Black Canyon next to the Hoover Dam, will prevent the collective amnesia that comes after the completion of such a gargantuan task. Michael Hiltzik, business columnist for the Los Angeles Times and author of Colossus: Hoover Dam and the Making of the American Century, writes in his intro: “Such aspects of monumental public works are almost always forgotten after the projects are finished—scaffolding removed, crews dispersed, worksite swept clean.” Not this time.

The J. Paul Getty Museum is not as sanguine as its cool Richard Meier exterior would have you believe. It recently returned an ancient statue of the goddess Aphrodite, which had been obtained by illicit means. As Jason Felch and Ralph Frammolino, who broke the story for the L.A. Times, point out in “Artful Dodging,” an adaptation from their forthcoming book, Chasing Aphrodite: The Hunt for Looted Antiquities at the World’s Richest Museum, risky business at the Getty was once standard operating procedure.

You don’t have to look far to see how the conversion of the most basic of materials—concrete, steel, glass, aluminum—has been transformed into homes that shelter us from the elements, edifices to protect our patrimony, seating for our repose and conduits that enable us to get from point A to point B. It’s all in LA. —NANCIE CLARE, Editor