Glitter Stucco & Dumpster Diving: Reflections on Building Production in the Vernacular City

Front Cover
Verso, 2004 - Architecture - 239 pages
Commended in the PEN/Architectural Digest Award for Literary Writing on the Visual Arts (2001).

In this free-wheeling guided tour to the cityscape of Southern California, from movie-star mansions to the alleys of the homeless, urban planner John Chase combines gossip, anecdote, archival research and tabloid-worthy self-revelation, grounding architecture as a multidisciplinary art.

Speeding across the California landscape, Chase pauses frequently to see what's really there: not just what the movies have taught us to expect, but the range and variation of the built environment that occupies what he calls "everyday space."

An urban designer as well as an important architectural critic, Chase explores a myriad of locales and examines their architectural features from the gay community space of West Hollywood, to the stucco box apartment complexes of the 1950s, to the truly weird mix of domestic arrangements in Venice Beach, to gated communities, to some of the historic houses of Hollywood and Beverly Hills and to the most recent transformations of the casino architecture in Las Vegas. At once learned, witty and ironic, Chase makes the mundane world of Southern California vistas come alive on the page.

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User Review  - djjazzyd - LibraryThing

The author has perfectly captured LA. It is more of an homage to the city in which most of it is him waxing poetic about colorful neighbors, trash, and homeless living near his home. A must for anyone wanting an inside look at the true nature of Los Angeles by an someone who knows the language. Read full review


finding los angeles in the movies
the typology of building production
the representative and the lovable
the consumerist imperative

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About the author (2004)

John Chase has worked as a journalist, architectural designer, critic and Disney Imagineer. He is currently the urban designer for the City of West Hollywood. His previous books include Everyday Urbanism, Las Vegas: The Success of Excess and Exterior Decoration.

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