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Californian Architectural Forum - Unfinished Business + ForumFest 2012
13 Jun 2012
LA Forum for Architecture and Urban Design
Unfinished Business + ForumFest 2012
LA FORUM FOR ARCHITECTURE AND URBAN DESIGN ANNOUNCES MAJOR RETROSPECTIVE EXHIBITION
UNFINISHED BUSINESS: 25 YEARS OF DISCOURSE IN LOS ANGELES
13 Jul - 26 Aug
“The problem is that there is more to architecture than picking out the right exotic wood for that new vegetarian bar. I am concerned at the gap between the formidable formal and the equally formidable thoughtlessness about larger issues played by many of the architects in the “Out There Doing It” series. A case in point is the eagerness to dismiss Southern California as having no context and no history. The architect is thereby allowed to play as though he was operating in a vacuum. Filling this vacuum is one of the roles of the Forum. We need to keep reminding ourselves of what else is Out There.”
-John Chase, Shopping for Architecture
LA Forum Newsletter, October 1989
Los Angeles (June 8, 2012) - The Los Angeles Forum for Architecture and Urban Design (LA Forum) is proud to announce a major retrospective exhibition, Unfinished Business: 25 Years of Discourse in Los Angeles, celebrating the organization’s 25th anniversary, and running from July 13 through August 26, 2012, at the WUHO Gallery (Woodbury University Hollywood Gallery) in Los Angeles. The 25th anniversary celebration culminates with ForumFest 2012, the LA Forum’s popular annual fundraiser.
Since 1987 the LA Forum has been at the center of the city's architectural discourse. Indeed, the vibrant organization, which grew out of an architectural reading group led by Aaron Betsky and Christian Hubert, among others, was formulated in part to interrogate the culture of architecture and urban design in Los Angeles. Over the decades, including the scrappy 1980s, the experimental 1990s, and the booming 2000s, the LA Forum has impacted the discipline at large with events and programming that introduce emerging talent; exhibitions that capture issues of contemporary design; and publications and competitions that speculate on urbanism and often challenge the conventions of what architecture means in Los Angeles.
Built around material pulled from the LA Forum’s archive, Unfinished Business revisits a rich history of commentary and debate in order to strike a provocative dialogue between architectural eras in Los Angeles—between the visitor and the work and between architects and the city. In looking backward, Unfinished Business seeks to find within the LA Forum’s history the architectural questions, urban design conversation starters, and critical loose ends that are just as relevant now as they were over the past quarter century.
The focus of Unfinished Business is a dozen ‘conversations’ featuring quotes and essays drawn from the Forum’s programming archive of exhibitions, lecture series, publications, design competitions, and building tours. A series of provocative quotes printed on Colby posters—the colorful outdoor advertising found on walls, fences and telephone poles throughout Los Angeles—will introduce each ‘conversation.’ Quotes will focus on everything from urban densification (“DENSIFY OR DIE” – Central Office of Architecture, Forum Newsletter, September 1991) and shopping and consumption (“What does it mean to shop and Die in Los Angeles?” – John Chase, Forum Newsletter, December 1989), to Los Angeles’ infrastructures, ecologies, vernacular and avant-garde architectures.
The majority of the exhibition’s ‘conversations’ will come from Forum Newsletters and publications, such as Experimental Architecture in Los Angeles, edited by Aaron Betsky (Rizzoli International, 1992); Everyday Urbanism, edited by John Chase, Margaret Crawford and John Kaliski (Monacelli Press, 1999 and 2008); and The Infrastructural City: Networked Ecologies in Los Angeles, by Kazys Varnelis (Actar, 2008). From 1988-1998, the LA Forum’s semi-annual Forum Newsletters reported on and critiqued architecture, architects and urban development in Los Angeles. The popular Newsletters were guest edited by architectural historian and critic Sylvia Lavin and architects Chava Danielson, Joe Day and Barbara Bestor, among others. The Newsletters centered numerous issues on urban design, design education in Los Angeles, new building and publication reviews, and interviews with subjects ranging from Mike Davis to Frank Gehry. The LA Forum’s complete 25-year archive of newsletters, books, pamphlets, photo-series, and other memorabilia, multi-media soundbites and video projections will be prominently displayed within Unfinished Business.
Unfinished Business’ ‘conversations’ also portray the LA Forum as critical observers of the city by framing the organization’s programming as a vehicle with which to view Los Angeles’ urban development, as well as the architects, planners and designers who shape the metropolis. The LA Forum’s ongoing lecture series Out There Doing It (OTDI)—a longstanding showcase for emerging talent in Los Angeles—also serves as fodder for editorial commentary in Forum Newsletters and publications. The work from architects featured in the early OTDI series, which included architects such as Neil M. Denari and Koning Eizenberg, were gathered together in the publication Experimental Architecture in Los Angeles, with an introduction by Frank Gehry (the book is nicknamed ‘Gehry’s Kids’). Essays from Experimental Architecture and newsletter articles by Betsky and the late John Chase, which critically investigate the work shown during the OTDI series, will be on view. Unfinished Business also includes speculative work on Los Angeles provoked by past LA Forum design competitions, ranging from proposals to re-program abandoned shopping malls (Dead Malls, 2002) to reconsiderations of the future of Los Angeles’ ubiquitous dingbat apartment buildings of the 1950s and 60s (Dingbat 2.0, 2010).
Unfinished Business will be exhibited within ‘Pendulum Plane’, the flexible armature within the WUHO Gallery that was designed by Oyler-Wu Collaborative and which won the 2008 LA Forum competition Liner. Unfinished Business is designed by the LA Forum Board of Directors, in collaboration with graphic designer Neil Donnelly. Unfinished Business has been made possible thanks to the National Endowment for the Arts; the City of Angeles Arts Development Fee Program, Department of Cultural Affairs; the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Art; the Woodbury University School of Architecture; and the LA Forum for Architecture and Urban Design.
Unfinished Business will be on view July 13-August 26, 2012 at the WUHO Gallery, 6518 Hollywood Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA, 90028.
Unfinished Business Exhibition
July 13-15, 2012: Unfinished Business opening weekend featuring panel discussions and more.
July 13, 2012: VIP Reception and opening preview
July 14, 2012: Afternoon panel discussions and opening night
July 15, 2012: Related exhibition events TBA.
For more information about Unfinished Business, visit:
October 2012: Unfinished Business closing weekend and ForumFest 2012.
For more information about ForumFest 2012, visit:
Unfinished Business companion programming includes the On the Map building-tour series in June/July, the LA Forum’s 6th annual Pecha-Kucha Femmes Fatales in July, and the Out There Doing It lecture series in October/November, and other events.
For more information about the LA Forum, visit www.laforum.org, or inquire at
About the LA Forum for Architecture and Urban Design
The Los Angeles Forum for Architecture and Urban Design is a non-profit organization that provides a framework for design professionals and members of the general public to explore, evaluate, and impact the development of architecture in Los Angeles. Throughout its 25 years of operation, the Forum has brought together young designers, seasoned professionals, critics, urban theorists, artists, students, and people interested in their physical environment in a diverse series of activities. The Forum seeks to reach out beyond the confines of professional organizations, schools and established groups and does not limit itself to one approach to design or theory. It provokes discussion, seeks out places and designs unseen or unnoticed by the general public, publicizes architectural investigation and commentary, and promotes the serious exploration of strategies to influence the development of Los Angeles and the Southern California region.
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