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Former president, Art Center College of Design, Pasadena
Director Emeritus, Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles
Los Angeles--more than any other city in the United States--is a center for innovation that has a global reach and influence. Many factors foster the city's rich culture of experimentation and invention: the most diverse population in the nation, coming from more than 80 countries and speaking over 50 languages; world-class universities, colleges and design schools, producing the largest concentration of college graduates anywhere in the country; a wide range of creative, new-media, and entertainment-related companies; and a substantial community of architects, artists, and designers whose work demonstrates a powerful amalgam of independence, entrepreneurial spirit, and passion.
Perhaps most significant, Los Angeles has a strong characteristic of openness that is an integral part of the city's identity: openness as a sensibility, attitude and way of thinking as well as the physical openness of vast horizontal vistas that allow ideas to take shape without boundaries. Los Angeles is more receptive to experimentation than most other major cities in the country and perhaps anywhere in the world. Because of a certain laissez-faire quality and the sense that anything can and does happen here, Los Angeles attracts, produces, and champions a culture of mavericks and free thinkers.
For all of these reasons, Los Angeles is internationally recognized as a city of innovation in design and architecture.
Because of Los Angeles's tremendous growth over the 20th century and impulse to constantly renew itself, some of the city's exceptional buildings have been overlooked and even destroyed. The city's complex cultural and historical trajectories, vividly embodied in our architecture, tell us who we are as a city, and preservation gives us direct access to that knowledge. Through her integrity and innovation in preservation, Brenda Levin is a profound leader in the field. Her work leaves a cultural legacy in her public mission to preserve landmark buildings of Los Angeles--the Bradbury Building, the Grand Central Market, The Pellessier Building, the Wiltern Theater, and James Oviatt Building and Rex restaurant, among many others. Her work in preservation is just as innovative as breaking new ground, and Los Angeles is truly fortunate to have such a dedicated and talented ally.
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