Colin Marshall sits down above downtown Los Angeles in the U.S. Bank tower with Stephen Gee, senior producer at ITV Studios and author of Iconic Vision: John Parkinson, Architect of Los Angeles, the first book on the man who designed such landmark structures in the city as Union Station, the Memorial Coliseum, Bullock’s Wilshire, and City Hall. They discuss how such a visionary could have gone unknown so long; Los Angeles’ relationship to its public buildings; Parkinson’s notion, during a time when Los Angeles set about defining itself, of putting up a built environment that would leave people inspired; the neatness, elegance, and organization that characterize a Parkinson building; the city’s assumption that Parkinson would remain a household name for generations to come, and how World War II and the years after threw that off; Parkinson’s move from England, and his own move from England in 1995; his struggle to find information related to the architect, and how everything new he learned made him want to learn more (as also happens with knowledge about the city of Los Angeles itself); how you engage better with Los Angeles after coming to understand its original intention; how to break down the false images of the city the rest of the world gets fed; Los Angeles as “the city of the future” in most or all eras of its existence; the modern repurposing of Parkinson buildings, into apartments and retail spaces and law schools; Iconic Vision‘s origin as, and possible future as, a television documentary; the new relevance of Parkinson buildings in an era when Angelenos have begun to regard and use the city differently; what he learned when he assembled of Parkinson’s buildings, from Los Angeles and elsewhere, “in one place”; and what might architecturally excite the always forward-looking Parkinson in this always forward-looking city today.
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