Michael Webb
writes on modern architecture, design, and travel. He is the author of 26 books, most recently Modernist Paradise: Niemeyer House, Boyd Collection (Rizzoli) and Venice CA: Art +Architecture in a Maverick Community (Abrams). He travels widely in search of new and classic modern architecture and contributes to magazines around the world. Michael lives in the Neutra apartment that Charles and Ray Eames once called home.

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Events: New Amid the Old

An upcoming symposium at the Getty, featuring Richard Rogers, among other leading architects, will explore the role of contemporary architecture in historic urban environments. Image courtesy the Getty Conservation Institute.By Michael Webb

On May 21, the Getty Conservation Institute will present a day-long symposium “Minding the Gap: the Role of Contemporary Architecture in the Historic Environment.” It promises to be a lively debate among five architects who have taken radically different approaches: Thomas Beeby, Juergen Mayer, Rafael Moneo, Richard Rogers and Denise Scott Brown.

Few urban issues are more contentious than the insertion of contemporary buildings into a historic context. In the US, timid contextualism is the norm: new structures pretending to be historic and failing miserably. Europe has a much richer historical legacy and is generally more willing to accept contemporary expression as a new chapter in a long and varied narrative. That gives this symposium an ironic twist: the adventurous Old World versus the increasingly conservative New. It should be worth the price of admission to hear the radicals—Rogers, whose bold housing project for the Chelsea district of London was denounced and derailed by Prince Charles, and Mayer who inserted a giant parasol into a Seville plaza—challenging the post-modern Beeby and Brown, with Moneo occupying the middle ground.  Each will make a presentation, and Paul Goldberger, currently architectural critic for Vanity Fair, will moderate an evening panel discussion.

Tickets for the day are $100 ($50 for students), a fee that includes refreshments, lunch and parking. Reservations at or call 310-440-7300.


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