Thursday, September 20, 2012

The Beverly Hills-EUR connection

The first time I drove past 9720 Wilshire Blvd. in Beverly Hills, I couldn't help but think of the Palazzo della Civiltà Italiana in EUR, that section of Rome commissioned by Mussolini and captured in all its eeriness by Giorgio di Chirico. (Photo of the Palazzo by Blackcat, via Wikipedia.) I don't know what inspired architect Edward Durrell Stone to adapt that theme to his design for the building that now houses the Pacific Mercantile Bank, but he also drafted a similarly strange building for 2 Columbus Circle in New York City. That, too, had a touch of EUR about it, at least until it was reconfigured a few years ago into something that has none of the original's weird grandeur, or sense of secrecy. His Busch Stadium in St. Louis -- which featured similar colonades on a much larger scale -- was also torn down. Maybe it's the negative associations with Fascism, which Stone seems to have had no affinity for, or perhaps there's just something about these shapes that disturbs the eye. Me, I'm fascinated and repelled at the same time.

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