Surrealism and Architecture

ONE OF THE GREAT GAMES of architectural history, both fun and revealing, is to place ourselves in the dusty shoes of archaeologists 1000 years from now. Digging through the millennial rubble of Los Angeles, what if we were to unearth in tact the Perpetual Savings and Loan Association Building, at 9720 Wilshire Boulevard in Beverly Hills, by Edward Durrell Stone? Suppose also that the relieving (and humanizing) feature of Harry Bertoia’s fountain has still not been reinstalled by this time. What kind of sense (stylistic, esthetic, historical, social, cultural, etc.) could we possibly make out of this phenomenon? Or—and this is also one very delicate means of assessing architectural quality—how many other fragments would we have to piece together from a reconstructed history of 20th-century art and architecture in order for the building to begin to make sense? There are indeed some works of

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