June 1, 2014

Franklin D. Israel: 1995 Hall of Fame Inductee

Franklin D. Israel

There is a brutally tough but quite wonderful tradition in architecture that, apart from its cohesive body of particular intellectual property, places it solidly among the performance arts: the relation between master and pupil, between teacher and student, between the accomplished and the novice, between the one who is and the one who is becoming, requires that its participants subject themselves to a world inherently analytical and shaped by vigorous criticism. The course of a designer’s career charts his individual path through what is experienced and what is not, ultimately reflecting in built form what has been absorbed of the many influences encountered along the way.

The projects of Frank Israel provide magic markers for a career with a remarkable trajectory: from the University of Pennsylvania (read Louis Kahn and Robert Venturi) to Yale and Columbia, abroad for two years on a Rome Prize and then to work in London and Tehran before heading back to New York. Succumbing to the siren plaints of Los Angeles, he headed West and for a while designed movie sets before opening his own practice in 1983.

That practice, with its wealth of startling and captivating projects, his coincident career as a professor at UCLA’s school of architecture and the support he generously lavished upon his students, completed the transformation process from pupil to master, from student to teacher, from becoming to being a designer from whose orbit the future did come.

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