Dworsky from 1948 Michiganensian
October 4, 1927|
|College||University of Michigan|
|1949||Los Angeles Dons|
Daniel Leonard Dworsky (born October 4, 1927) is an American architect. He is a longstanding member of the American Institute of Architects College of Fellows. Among other works, Dworsky designed Crisler Arena, the basketball arena at the University of Michigan named for Dworsky's former football coach, Fritz Crisler. Other professional highlights include designing Drake Stadium at UCLA, the Federal Reserve Bank in Los Angeles and the Block M seating arrangement at Michigan Stadium. He is also known for a controversy with Frank Gehry over the Walt Disney Concert Hall.
Previously, Dworsky was an American football linebacker, fullback and center who played professional football for the Los Angeles Dons of the All-America Football Conference in 1949, and college football for the Michigan Wolverines from 1945 to 1948. He was an All-American on Michigan's undefeated national championship teams in 1947 and 1948.
Born in Minneapolis, Minnesota in 1927, Dworsky lived in the Twin Cities and Sioux Falls, South Dakota before attending the University of Michigan. Dworsky was a four-year starter for Fritz Crisler's Michigan Wolverines football teams from 1945 to 1948. He played linebacker, fullback, and center for the Michigan Wolverines and was a key player on the undefeated 1947 and 1948 Michigan football teams that won consecutive national championships. The 1947 team, anchored by Len Ford, Alvin Wistert, Dworsky and Rick Kempthorn, has been described as the best team in the history of Michigan football. Dworsky won a total of six varsity letters at Michigan, four in football and two in wrestling where he competed in the heavyweight division. Dworsky is among the famous Jews in football, and has been extensively profiled in encyclopedic Jewish publications. Dworsky married the former Sylvia Ann Taylor on August 10, 1957. The couple has three children: Douglas, Laurie and Nancy. They reside in Los Angeles.
The 1947 Michigan Wolverines football team went 10–0 and outscored their opponents 394 to 53. Dworsky led a defensive unit that gave up an average of 5.3 points per game and shut out Michigan State (55–0), Pitt (60–0), Indiana (35–0), Ohio State (21–0), and USC (49–0). He also played fullback and center for the 1947 team and was named a third team All-American by the American Football Coaches Association. In a 1988 interview with the Los Angeles Times, Dworsky described the 1947 team's defensive scheme as follows: "We were an intelligent team and we had some complex defenses, the nature of which you see today. I called the defensive signals and we would shift people, looping, or stunting."
After going undefeated and winning the Big Ten championship, Michigan was invited to Pasadena to face the USC Trojans in the 1948 Rose Bowl—the Wolverines' first bowl game since 1901. Just before Christmas, the team boarded a train in Ann Abor for a three-day trip across the country. With little to do on the train, Alvin Wistert recalled that Dworsky entertained the team with music. "Dan Dworsky was a piano player. We'd gather around and sing. There was a piano in the last car."
After the long trip, the Wolverines beat the Trojans 49–0. Dworsky recalled that the coaching staff did an excellent job of scouting the Trojans. "When we went to the Rose Bowl, we had USC down pat. We knew their system as well as they did." The Trojans gained only 91 yards rushing and 42 yards passing, moving past midfield only twice. Dworsky played center during the Rose Bowl, blocking USC's All-American tackle (and future Los Angeles city councilman), John Ferraro.
In Dworsky's collegiate days, the final national rankings were determined before the bowl games. At the end of the regular season in 1947, Michigan was ranked No. 2 behind Notre Dame, but after defeating USC 49–0 in the Rose Bowl, the Associated Press held a special poll, and Michigan replaced Notre Dame as the national champion by a vote of 226 to 119. Dworsky later noted, "Notre Dame still claims that national championship and so do we."
The 1948 Michigan Wolverines football team went 9–0 and outscored their opponents 252 to 44. The defensive unit led by Dworsky held its opponents to just 4.9 points per game, including shutouts against Oregon (14–0), Purdue (40–0), Northwestern (28–0), Navy (35–0), and Indiana (54–0). The 1948 Wolverines finished the season ranked No. 1 by the AP, but Big Ten Conference rules prohibited a team from playing in the Rose Bowl two years in a row. Dworsky did, however, play in the 1948 Blue–Gray All Star game.
Dworsky was a four-year starter under Michigan's legendary coach, Fritz Crisler. Dworsky later said that Crisler's "real genius" was in blending all the elements. The 1947 championship team included several older veteran players who had returned from military service. Dworsky recalled: "About half of us were 18-year old kids, and half were veterans. We had guys who were serious guys and guys who were excitable. Fritz struck a balance, so we never had to be pushed, but we never lost our focus either."
Dworsky recalled: "Crisler was not only an intellectual in strategy, but also in the way he ran practices.... He ran practices rigidly and we called him 'The Lord'. He would allow it to rain, or not. He was a Douglas MacArthur-type figure, handsome and rigid.... I sculpted him and gave him the bust in 1971." Dworsky also kept another bust of Crisler in his office.
In 1949, Dworsky was the first round draft pick of the Los Angeles Dons of the All-America Football Conference. The Dons were the first professional football team in Los Angeles. Dworsky played eleven games with the Dons in 1949, his only season in professional football. Dworsky played linebacker and blocking back for the Dons and had one interception and one kick return for 14 yards. The AAFC disbanded after the 1949 season, and Dworsky turned down an offer from the Pittsburgh Steelers to return to the University of Michigan where he graduated in 1950 with a degree in architecture. Dworsky later noted: "It was a toss-up whether I would become a pro football player or an architect. Being a linebacker is good conditioning for a young designer. You learn to block the bull coming at you from all sides."
After receiving his degree in architecture in 1950, Dworsky moved to Los Angeles and served as an apprentice in the early 1950s with prominent local early modernists William Pereira, Raphael Soriano, and Charles Luckman. In 1953, Dworsky began his own architecture firm in Los Angeles, known as Dworsky Associates. The firm grew into one of the most prominent architectural firms in California, creating major public buildings in California. Dworsky Associates won the 1984 Firm of the Year Award from the California Council of the American Institute of Architects. In September 2000, Dworsky Associates merged with CannonDesign and ceased to operate as an independent firm.
Dworsky belongs to the generation of post-World War II modernists that took its cues from the 1920s German Bauhaus and the French-Swiss master Le Corbusier. In 1988, Dworsky noted: "I am most intrigued by the essential mystery of architecture. For me, built space will always be a kind of theater, a stage on which life is played, and played out. That's why I keep on being an architect. Asked what inspires his architecture, Dworsky said he draws from the "solid, resolved concepts" of modern designers such as Le Corbusier and Marcel Bruer, while being encouraged on occasion to experiment by such "new wave" designers as Frank Gehry and Eric Owen Moss.
Dworsky's first major commission was to design a basketball arena for his alma mater, the University of Michigan. The members of the 1947 Michigan Wolverines football team had reunions with Fritz Crisler every five years in Ann Arbor, and it was at one of those reunions that Crisler (by then the school's athletic director) gave Dworsky one of his big breaks, asking him to design the arena. Built in 1967, the arena was named Crisler Arena, as a tribute to the coach. Dworsky's design of the arena was well received and was said to demonstrate "his ability to combine majesty of scale with human accessibility". The roof of Crisler Arena is made of two plates, each weighing approximately 160 tons. The bridge-like construction allows them to expand or contract given the change of seasons or the weight of the snow. Crisler Arena remains the home of Michigan's basketball team and houses memorabilia and trophies from all Wolverine varsity athletic teams.
In 1965, the wooden benches at Michigan Stadium were replaced with blue fiberglass benches. Dworsky designed a yellow "Block M" for the stands on the eastern side of the stadium, just above the tunnel.
After his work on Crisler Arena, Dworsky was commissioned by UCLA to design a track and field stadium on the university's central campus. Dworsky designed the stadium, known as Drake Stadium. Since its inaugural meet on February 22, 1969, the stadium has been the site of numerous championship meets, including the National AAU track & field championships in 1976, 1977, and 1978. It is also used each year for special campus events, such as the annual UCLA Commencement Exercises in June.
The major works credited to Dworsky and his firm include the following:
Dworsky has received numerous national, regional and community awards for design excellence, including the following:
In February 1989, the Walt Disney Concert Hall Committee selected Dworsky as executive architect to work with designated architect Frank Gehry in designing the future home of the Los Angeles Philharmonic. Dworsky was selected to translate Gehry's conceptual designs into working drawings that would meet building code specifications. By 1994, the cost of the project had skyrocketed to $160 million (it eventually reached $274 million), and controversy halted the project. By 1996, a major donor was sought to complete the project by 2001 (four years behind schedule). Gehry and his design came under fire, and some considered him a spoiled, impractical artist.
Gehry publicly blamed Dworsky: "The executive architect was incapable of doing drawings that had this complexity. We helped select that firm. I went to Daniel, supposedly a friend, and I said, 'This is going to fail and we now have the capability to do it, so let us ghost-write it.'" Dworsky refused. Gehry was also quoted in the Los Angeles Times as saying: "We had the wrong executive architect doing the drawings. I helped pick him, I'm partly responsible. It brought us to a stop."" Gehry told Los Angeles magazine in 1996 that he "no longer speaks to his former friend (Dworsky)". Gehry continued his public attacks on Dworsky: "He (Dworsky) made a lot of money. He begged me for the job. I'd like to shoot him."
Dworsky was eventually told to stop working on the drawings before he completed them, but he defended himself against Gehry's criticism. "Knowledgeable people were supportive of us. They were saying it's a very complex and unusual design, and they can understand the difficulties in trying to achieve this within a limited budget and a limited schedule. It was unfortunate that Frank came out with his criticism, but he was the center of the storm, having designed the building, and he was just trying to lessen the blame on himself."
Dworsky also told the Los Angeles Times: "This is a one-of-a-kind building. You just don't simply open up the plans and understand them quickly." Dworsky's allies refer to Gehry's work as "confusing". Disney Hall official Frederick M. Nicholas also defended Dworsky's work against Gehry's attacks, denying that there were any problems with the Dworsky drawings not attributable to fast-tracking. Nicholas said: "They were not 'bad' drawings. It was a question of the subs not understanding them."
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