At an outdoor temporary pavilion in the main parking lot at the Southern California Institute of Architecture are fellow architects Peter Cook, Hernan Diaz Alonso, Eric Owen Moss and Greg Lynn, where Moss is director. (Rafael Sampaio Rocha / September 26, 2010)

Frank Gehry was on the panel. So was Thom Mayne. And fellow architects Eric Owen Moss, Peter Cook, Hernan Diaz Alonso and Greg Lynn. The subject was the “troubled relationship” between architecture and beauty. The setting, on a warm recent evening, was an outdoor pavilion in the main parking lot at the Southern California Institute of Architecture, where Moss is director. The impresario, moderator and ego-wrangler was architect Yael Reisner, Cook’s wife and the author of a new book of interviews with architects on beauty.

In the end, if the panelists didn’t exactly embrace the topic at hand — and if the uneven discussion that resulted was, itself, far from a thing of beauty — that could hardly be counted as a surprise. The group of architects Reisner asked to take part, representative of the larger group she features in the book, have always eyed beauty with wariness, if not outright hostility. There were times during the panel when it seemed the huge, standing-room-only crowd had gathered to listen to a bunch of Hatfields discuss the McCoys.

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Christopher Hawthorne
Los Angeles Times

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