Sizing Up the Architectural Museum



This is an open letter, or more of a note, to the Design Review Board, and the city in general.

As many of my friends and acquaintances know, my legal practice is restricted to Laguna Beach and I make my living mostly in connection with Design Review projects.  As a result I receive seasons’ greeting cards from many of the architects with whom I work – both in support or opposition – which invariably have links to their web pages.

I think that many of us forget that we live in a town with some of the most talented architects and architectural designers in America, and that what they present to the Design Review Board is part of a larger body of work that define them as artists. Reviewing those collections can be illuminating, especially for those of us who too often are looking at a project narrowly.  It can lead – at least it leads me – to a better understanding of what it is they are trying to do with a particular design, how it fits into their oeuvre, and of how it can be affected by the modifications necessary to adapt it to the peculiarities of Laguna Beach.

Maintaining the Laguna Beach spirit, as embodied in the Design Review ordinance, is important, but it is also important to understand that our town is, of itself, an architectural museum, and to take into account in our evaluation of a project how it “fits” as part of its architect’s work and as part of that “museum.”

Gene Gratz, Laguna Beach

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