The Getty Center
Date: Sunday, April 14, 2013
Time: 2:00–7:00 p.m.
Location: Harold M. Williams Auditorium
Past Event

Today, architects are often regarded as celebrity figures. The work of these "starchitects," as they have become known, can define the way a city is seen by the world, giving it a brand name that is globally identifiable. But does the work of architects really matter in our daily lives? Do all of the inventive forms found in the new wave of buildings dotting our cities change the lives of their inhabitants, or are these structures merely self-contained monuments to an era? Zócalo Public Square and the J. Paul Getty Museum present a half-day conference exploring the impact of architecture on the present and future.

Panel 1: Do Architects Really Shape Cities?

Moderated by John King, urban design and architecture reporter, San Francisco Chronicle

Sixty years ago, there were high hopes for architecture. Reshaping our physical spaces of work and residency was supposed to reshape our minds. Buildings would be machines for living, and humans would adopt habits of work and play as clean and sensible as the structures they inhabited. But can architecture and design influence the future beyond the superficialities of the visual? Did the futuristic visions of the 1950s and 1960s have any merit, or do their designs now serve as reminders of failed architectural planning? Pritzker Prize–winning architect Thom Mayne, architect Valéry Augustin, and founder and president of the Project for Public Spaces Fred Kent explore the role of architects in shaping cities in the past and present, examining what has been learned—or failed to be learned—from our ambitious visions.

Panel 2: How Do We Reinvent Spaces?

Moderated by Peter Tokofsky, J. Paul Getty Museum

Despite the best—or perhaps most dictatorial—intentions of architects and planners, inhabitants of buildings and spaces rarely follow the instruction manual. What appears in Architectural Digest or Dwell does not take into account the reality of cluttered rooms of daily life. Whether adding a new coat of paint or doing something more radical, building dwellers show inexhaustible inventiveness when it comes to creating comfort—and it's often at odds with the intentions of architects. Historian Catherine Gudis, author of Buyways: Billboards, Automobiles, and the American Cultural Landscape; photographer-sociologist Camilo José Vergara; Anthea M. Hartig, executive director of the California Historical Society; and Peter Tolkin, founding principal of Peter Tolkin Architecture, explore the tug of war between the designer's vision and the way homes, offices, and public spaces are actually used.

Panel 3: Who Will Design Tomorrow's Los Angeles?

Moderated by Greg Goldin, curator, A+D Museum

As Los Angeles confronts future challenges, discussion inevitably returns to the question of up or out: will "elegant density" replace suburban homes and yards, common features in Southern California? If the look and layout of Los Angeles must change in order for the city to thrive, what changes should take place? And who gets to decide or design them? Qingyun Ma, dean of the University of Southern California's School of Architecture; futurist designer Syd Mead; and urban planner James Rojas imagine the L.A. of tomorrow and put forward some idea of the players and forces who will get to design it.

Presented with

How to Get Here
The Getty Center is located at 1200 Getty Center Drive in Los Angeles, California, approximately 12 miles northwest of downtown Los Angeles. See Hours, Directions, Parking for maps and driving directions.