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The Hauser

The Academic Study of Dingbat Apartments You’ve Been Waiting for Is Here
March 22, 2016
Chris Nichols Architecture, Books

Finally, an academic treatise on the dingbat apartment! Dingbat 2.0: The Iconic Los Angeles Apartment as Projection of a Metropolis gathered a dream team of more than a dozen architects, critics, and photographers including Barbara Bestor, Aaron Betsky, and the late John Chase to explain the art, science, and economics of multi-unit living. The archetypal midcentury dwellings for those on a budget have been derided and misunderstood since they were new. Earlier books from Lesley Marlene Siegel (a contributor) and Clive Piercy mostly examined the facades and exuberant typefaces that are the most eye-catching features of these buildings.

These experts spend 288 pages in this pioneering effort to finally understand them as examples of both sprawl and density. One critic in the book compares the wasted space created by Le Corbusier and his famous pilotis to the essential Los Angeles idea of floating apartment blocks over parking spaces. The great democratization of art continues. “Dingbat 2.0,” says Ken Bernstein of the Los Angeles Department of City Planning. “Gives an often-maligned Los Angeles building type its long overdue moment in the sun.”

The Santa Monica Public Library and the Society of Architectural Historians/Southern California Chapter are hosting a free panel discussion including architect Thurman Grant and architectural historian Steven Treffers on Saturday, March 26 from 2-4 p.m.