The buildings were packaged objects, just as much as album covers or cologne bottles, and the name was the label that signaled how to read the rest of the accouterments.
It is terribly sad to hear that John Chase, a planner for the City of West Hollywood and crackin' good writer, died yesterday. John was my thesis adviser at SCI-Arc when I started loud paper. You can see his influence all over those first three issues. Not only was I riffing on similar topics as John—Las Vegas or dingbats (pardon, stucco boxes, per John's brilliant books Glitter Stucco and Dumpster Diving and Exterior Decoration)—but his smart, personal, and sly perspective on the city helped shape my voice as a writer. He encouraged me to enjoy the snap and crackle of language in service to architectural journalism.
I just saw John in LA at the Dingbat 2.0 panel hosted by the LAForum in July and was giddy when he raised his hand from center of the crowd and started peppering us panelists with questions. This is the guy who knows a thing or two about the lowly, but glittery, besmirched, but beloved, stucco box. His queries and critiques came with a generous dose of warmth and humor. We emailed after I returned to the East Coast and John shared his excitement at getting close to retiring from the city (with a pension!) and devoting himself to writing and teaching. I was looking forward to seeing what he'd produce next. With humility he wrote, "I may or may not conceive a unified mission statement and focus efforts or it might just be a diffuse cloud of gas." Gassy? Never. Insightful, researched, and stylish, always. He will be missed.