The Los Angeles architectural community has been deprived of one of its kindest and strongest advocates. Stephen Kanner was —from the Bradbury Building to Santa Monica, to the Sunset Strip, to the first Wilshire Boulevard location, and now to its present permanent home on Wilshire, across from LACMA. He had the ability to find kind, generous, people who donated space, and whose time, expertise, and energy made it all possible. He was also somehow able to convince people of the importance of the A+D. This was accomplished because he provided the example of giving his own time and energy so generously and with such enthusiasm and grace.
I remember in 2003, when Steve and the A+D invited me to create a retrospective exhibit of my work from 1953 to 2003. He not only encouraged me, but he put together a team willing to generously donate their services to make it happen. At the time, when I felt that with such an ambitious project we might not meet the deadline for the announced opening, Steve and I experienced a role reversal. He became the mentor, confidently saying, “We will make it, we will definitely make it.”
Through the perseverance of Steve and his excellent team, we had an opening, on schedule, attended by some 300 people. He was a strong, positive thinker, and that, along with all his other wonderful traits, is what made Stephen Kanner so special. It is my hope that all the love and attention that Stephen poured into the A+D will ensure its continuing and becoming his greatest legacy.
Along with all these efforts, Steve also made time for other community involvement, including serving on numerous design review boards. He seemed to have endless energy, and he performed so effortlessly with his calm, confident, and pleasant demeanor. His practice continued to grow as well. He had a staff as large as 50 employees at times, and he maintained an excellent design level, continuing to win awards, publication in many magazines, several books, and two monographs.
Stephen had laid the groundwork in such a short number of years for all he did. With his great enthusiasm, intelligence, and love of architecture, we can only imagine what he might have accomplished in the next 30 years.