John Chase Leaves Us; West Hollywood Urban Designer, Dear Friend

Frances Anderton -- with my dear friend, John Chase
John Chase and me; John, as usual, cuts a dash

I write with immense sadness about another untimely death in the LA architecture community.  Last Friday we lost John Chase, dearest friend to me and many others; brilliant writer, outrageous wit, dandy (as you can see from this photo); and secret weapon in West Hollywood, where, as urban designer, he was responsible for nurturing urbane and adventurous real estate development. He died suddenly, and unexpectedly, and I am still too shocked to accept that he is gone or to yet put feelings into words. Suffice it to say that John, aged 57, raised in South Pasadena, was one of LA’s most unique and talented sons.  He leaves behind the love of his life, his spouse, Jonathan Cowan; his beloved sister, Laura, two nephews, Alec and Oliver, and a niece, Eleanor; his goddaughter, Summer (my little girl), and many, many adoring friends. More to come as the words form. We will air a tribute to John on today’s DnA and you can read Christopher Hawthorne’s LA Times obituary and some wonderful remembrances by Alissa Walker and many other admirers here: Curbed LA, LA Observed, Architect’s Newspaper. A public memorial will be held 4 p.m. Aug. 24 at Fiesta Hall in West Hollywood’s Plummer Park. Attendees must “dress as if John picked out your outfit (bright & festive).”

  • Hunter

    This is absolutely terrible! I am always meaning to spend more time with John and now I will have to wait until it is my time to join him. I am stunned to hear of it. He has been a force here for decades.

  • helmut

    das ist ja scheisse…

  • Urban LA

    John was such a great influence on everyone who cared about the public realm. Please let us know if there will be a community wide event to commemorate the gifts he gave to all of us.

  • Whitney and I are devastated to have lost a friend who loved great design and encouraged it at every level of his personal and professional life. Impossible to believe that his larger-than-life presence is no longer here. Many condolences to his family and please let us know if there is a community-wide event to remember him.

  • janet woodward

    I went to junior and high school with John. Although we went our separate ways in life and were not in touch–I kept up with what he was doing through a mutual friend. I just want to say that he was always a very sensitive and yet sarcastic and extremely funny person. His quirky sense of humor is/was memorable and it seems he impacted alot of folks-no surprise there. jw
    Class of 1971 SPHS

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  • Dan Gregory

    John Chase had a generous heart and a nimble, omnivorous, and ironic mind — keenly appreciative of diversity in building as in life. He gave me an early assignment to write a chapter about William Wurster's early houses for his book on Santa Cruz architecture and I shall always be indebted to him for that. He also designed some wonderful small houses. Thank you Frances for your great tribute.

  • However lame it is, I only learned that John Chase died in August by reading my Hollywood Heritage newsletter this evening, one month after his death, and I am in shock. I had an extremely positive experience with John Chase whom I found to be one of the most open, friendly, connecting people in the architectural preservation committee. I met him at a West Hollywood event, thereafter seeing him everywhere … he just seemed to be a great guy. I'm stricken at his loss, especially after that of Rbt Nudelmen, both such rare creatures — concerned citizens of L.A.

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