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Architecture

I’m in love with buildings — that is to say, beautiful buildings. Buildings that sing or shout to the sky or make me smile or sigh, or fill me with awe.

I was in Los Angeles a few weeks ago, and was driven around the city by a friend who pointed out the old and the new. The new cathedral (huge but hushed in color), the Disney concert hall (a wild aluminum ride) the design center (three glass forms in saturated primary shades of red, green, and blue — my favorite) and lots of stunning “old” Deco buildings — some being repurposed as musuem, library, whatever. I liked the Bauhausy stuff too, lots of it hung with neon red bouganvillia.

Most architecture is voiceless, soulless commercial schlock. Boxes, McMansions, tall towers that do not yearn for the sky, ticky-tacky. Plenty of that in L.A., too. Like everywhere.  And yet, the kvetch that nobody makes nothing no good no more is wrong, wrong, wrong.

Last night, I had the honor of sitting in the Shalin Liu Perfomance Center in Rockport, Mass. Here is a building that makes love to your eyes and ears and heart — though more from the inside than from the exterior, which is handsome but may a little historico-cute.

Inside, the most dramatic aspect is the backdrop onstage — a huge picture window out onto the harbor, forever framing the sunset, complete with soaring seagulls and boats moving silently by. But it’s the details that do me the magic. Walls formed of granite pieces, recalling the hand work of stone masons. The plank ceiling held aloft by improbably thin, chic black poles. And the light fixtures! Last night, they glowed, gold, and as night fell, reflected back to us inside. That huge window made them seem to dangle, multiplied over the black sea. They looked like lanterns lit by candles, honey-colored, soft, perfect. Wow.

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