You know the Dingbat apartment building even if you don’t know its history. Architecture historian Reyner Banham coined the Dingbat phrase in the 1970s. It’s that clunky stucco box with a quirky facade perched precariously above parking spaces. Maligned by some, revered by many, studied ad infinitum: the Dingbat is distinctively “L.A.”
The newest scholarship on this typology is the delightful Dingbat 2.0: The Iconic Los Angeles Apartment as Projection of a Metropolis. This book is a meticulous and exhaustive analysis of one of the most misunderstood building types in Los Angeles. I recommend it highly.
The book’s many essays illuminate the Dingbat’s origins, meaning(s), and (possible) future(s). Pictures are plentiful. Diagrams and photo simulations abound. A newly developed Dingbat taxonomy provides a handy guidebook for spotting them in the environment. And whereas prior studies focus almost exclusively on the Dingbat’s unmistakable facade, Dingbat 2.0 ventures to step inside. Residents share what it’s like to live in this particular form of multifamily housing. This new dimension brings us closer to a “complete comprehension” of the Dingbat.
Dingbat 2.0 is a must-read for urbanists, architects, historians, housing advocates, and everyday Angelenos.
Shout out to Los Angeles Forum for Architecture and Urban Design and DoppelHouse Press for bringing this to life. The book is helping me finish my own ‘little polemic’ on a Dingbat near me.