It is with great sadness that we write about the passing of Elyse Grinstein (1929-2016), a longtime supporter of the SCI-Arc community. Elyse was a faculty member of SCI-Arc and trustee during the early 1990s and became an honorary board member in 2013. Her life and highly influential contributions to the arts community of Los Angeles were recounted in the LA Times:
'Architecture, however, is where Grinstein truly found her voice. When her youngest daughter, Nancy, left for college in the mid-’70s, a 48-year-old Grinstein enrolled in UCLA’s master’s program for architecture. She graduated at 50 and interned with her close friend, Frank Gehry, before starting her own firm, Grinstein/Daniels Inc.
For about 25 years, her practice included projects such as remodeling contemporary artist David Hockney’s Hollywood Hills home and, with partner Susan Narduli, remodeling several areas of CalArts’ campus after 1994 earthquake damage. With former partner Jeffrey Daniels, she designed the memorable, avant-garde Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurant on Western and Oakwood avenues in L.A.’s Koreatown.
“Everything we felt from her as a person came through in her architecture,” Gehry said in an email. “Her work as an architect was well-crafted and responsible. She created a modest body of work and was taken by surprise when a Kentucky Fried Chicken got media attention. She was a true humanist who was always exploring new ideas in her work and giving other artists a safe harbor to do the same in theirs.”
Gehry added that he was “having a really hard time believing that she is gone,” he said. “Her generosity and love permeated through the art world and made us all better people for knowing her.”'
Elyse will be remembered fondly for her years of dedicated leadership.