The Iconic Los Angeles Apartment
of a Metropolis
& Joshua G. Stein
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Dingbat 2.0 is the first critical study of the most ubiquitous and mundane building type in Los Angeles: the dingbat apartment. Often dismissed as ugly and unremarkable, dingbat apartments have qualities that arguably make them innovative, iconoclastic, and distinctly “L.A.”
Praised and vilified in equal measure, dingbat apartments were a critical enabler of Los Angeles’ rapid postwar urban expansion. While these apartments are known for their variety of midcentury decorated facades, less explored is the way they have contributed to a consistency of urban density achieved by few other twentieth century cities.
Dingbat 2.0 integrates essays and discussions by some of today’s leading architects, urbanists and cultural critics with photographic series, typological analysis, and speculative designs from around the world to propose alternate futures for Los Angeles housing and to consider how qualities of the inarguably flawed housing type can foreground many crucial issues facing global metropolises today.
Essays by Barbara Bestor, Aaron Betsky, James Black, John Chase, Dana Cuff, Thurman Grant, John Kaliski, John Southern, Joshua G. Stein, Steven A. Treffers, and Wim de Wit. Photographic series by Judy Fiskin, Paul Redmond and Lesley Marlene Siegel.
Dingbat 2.0: The Iconic Los Angeles Apartment as Projection of a Metropolis
DoppelHouse Press, 2016
Published in cooperation with The Los Angeles Forum for Architecture and Urban Design
Book Design: Jessica Fleischmann/still room
The book successfully leverages the dingbat as a launchpad for surveying multi-family housing in Los Angeles, picking apart the prickly and multivalent nature of its creation myth and subsequent existence through the lenses of prior appreciation, scholarly interest, and post-war art production. It attempts to ground what could otherwise be a fetishization of Sputnik-era kitsch into a sprawling examination of the economic, social, and technocratic instruments developers, architects, and occupants used to design, build, and enjoy one of L.A.’s most unsung contributions to architectural-historical patrimony.
The book’s central matter, the field guide to dingbats, will change the way you see L.A.
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