one of the reasons i moved to los angeles is because i wanted to spend more time looking around the gigantic west. because, to state the obvious, the west coast of the u.s is very different from the east coast.
i grew up on the east coast, and the east coast is great, but it’s generally fairly small and cute and subtle. then you go out west and everything is gigantic and un-subtle. the east coast has cute colonial towns. the west coast has bizarre sprawling megalopolises. the east coast has hills. the west coast has giant mountains. and when i moved to l.a i vowed to explore the weird and beautiful and baffling areas around l.a. and top of my list (well, near the top of my list), was mt baldy.
like many people i first heard about mt baldy when leonard cohen moved there, to live at a zen monastery near the top of mt baldy. i assumed that mt baldy was some remote and mythical place, far, far away from los angeles. but, as is often the case, i was wrong. mt baldy is an hour away from l.a.
so today i drove up to mt baldy with some friends. we drank coffee at the mt baldy lodge. we had sandwiches in one of the 18,000 state park hiking/camping areas. and i took pictures of this little stone house.
i took pictures of this house because it’s perfect. it might not be architecturally significant, but it fits into it’s landscape about as perfectly as a house can ever fit into a landscape. and even though its an hour away from los angeles in 2013 it feels as if it’s fallen through a time portal (as does, fantastically, most of mt baldy) from 1935.
it doesn’t employ new or cutting edge building materials or building techniques. it wasn’t inspired by marcel breuer. but it’s amazing and perfect in it’s own way.
so, here’s a little stone house surrounded by trees in the middle of mt baldy.
here’s random. or, rather, a random day in dysfunctional l.a.
3 different houses/things.
1-pickfair. i guess that pickfair deserves it’s own update, as it’s a pretty remarkable, monstrous, huge, strangely beautiful, ostentatious, emblematic, storied, oddball house. but, i’ll be honest, i felt kind of creepy and exposed taking pictures of this house as beverly hills residents drove by giving me baleful and withering looks. so i took a couple of pictures and tucked my figurative tail between my figurative legs and escaped the intimidating stares of the scornful beverly hills residents who were scorning me. or so i thought.
maybe they were just looking. scornfully. in any case: i felt like a creepy interloper. which, in fact, i might be. then i took a picture of a:
2- modern house across the street that looked kind of cool. i received fewer nasty looks while doing this. then i found myself in highland park where i took pictures of:
3-these amazing metal dragonflies that make no sense to me but are huge and strange and great.
and i maintain that they’d look really good mounted on the top of pickfair, using their disco ball eyes to stare at the beverly hills residents who were staring at me.
and, an aside, doesn’t ‘pickfair’ kind of sound like the name of a suburban supermarket?
in any case: gigantic pickfair, cute little mid century house across the street from pickfair, and some gigantic metal dragonflies in highland park.
i’m not sure where my love of abandoned buildings comes from. or, syntactically, i’m not sure from where my love of abandoned buildings comes. in any case: i love abandoned buildings.
when i was growing up i used to spend hours and days:
finding abandoned buildings.
breaking into abandoned buildings.
wandering around abandoned buildings.
the abandoned buildings i played in as a child were all relatively old and victorian (which made them even creepier and fantastic). whereas l.a tends to have abandoned mid-century buildings, like this amazing, abandoned hotel. at least i think it’s a hotel. or was a hotel.
now it’s just a big, abandoned, beautiful modern building either waiting to be rescued from entropy or quietly observed by weirdos like me as entropy ravages it further. all the while writing run-on sentences, which i also love.
this particular abandoned building piques and keeps my interest because it clearly as at one point was a brand new building filled with mid century hipsters and swingers doing mid century hipster and swinger things (involving cocktails and lava lamps and prescription medication, one assumes). and now it sits moribund, with great lines and great bones, but moribund.
some buildings (old victorians, etc) seem like they were old when they were new. other buildings (mid century, etc) seem like they were designed to be forever new and futuristic, which makes their inevitable slide into entropic dissolution even more jarring, and strangely beautiful.
like abandoned space stations, almost. which, possibly, this is.
ok, have a nice weekend.
i just got back from weekend 2 at coachella.
and it was great.
i could indulge in hyperbole, but really, it was great.
i could also make more of an effort to expand my lexicon of adjectives.
but until then i’ll make do with: great.
on saturday morning i woke up early (one of the accidental benefits of not being hungover) and took a drive out to the salton sea.
now, the salton sea is one of the most remarkable, wrong, beautiful, apocalyptic, baffling, compelling places in california, the united states, the northern hemisphere, and possibly (see aforementioned hyperbole), the world.
it’s just so odd and wrong and amazing.
the beaches are made up of crusty animal and fish and crustacean bones.
the water is brown-ish and filled with dead things.
and a majority of the land surrounding the salton sea is abandoned and empty and apocalyptic (baking in 100 degree heat for most of the year certainly makes everything seem even emptier and more apocalyptic).
here’s some information on the salton sea: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Salton_Sea
while there i took a bunch of pictures, but i’m including these, of an abandoned gas station and video store (maybe, i say as a southern californian eco hippie, gas stations will someday seem as antiquated and out of date as video stores? yes, you can roll your eyes. but it’s still a nice idea. says the hippie. with no hair). i especially love the stark and boxy utilitarianism of the gas station. throw in some sheets of glass and you could have an empty and apocalyptic glass house or farnsworth house.
if you were at either coachella weekend: i hope you had a great time, and thanks for letting me dj.
ok, i’m including this in my oddball architecture blog for a few reasons…
- i think it’s a really beautiful video (as made by my friend colin rich).
- with clearly no objectivity i like the song a lot (as made by mark lanegan and i).
- it’s all based in and around los angeles (salton sea, joshua tree, and the angeles national forest).
- it’s kind of an entropic love letter to los angeles and the desert around los angeles.
- there are lots of buildings in the video (even if some are very far away…)
oh, and i highly highly highly recommend watching it full screen, as it’s really beautiful.
just got back from coachella (which, i feel the need to state the obvious, was amazing: the weather, the line-up, the audience, the location, etc, etc).
and i posit that these are architectural photos… (or, rather, photos of architecture). in that: they’re photos of a space expressly designed and constructed for a specific purpose. it’s temporary architecture (well, from a broader perspective of impermanence i guess all architecture is temporary), in that it’s erected, filled with technology and people, and then disassembled.
it’s also quite unique, as far as the history of structures is concerned, in that there aren’t too many open-air but enclosed structures designed to hold 25,000 people (the whole festival is around 100,000 people each day, i believe. this is the sahara dance tent, designed to hold around 25% of the festival attendees). it’s also a fascinating structure in that it’s aesthetics are utilitarian but powerful and impactful.
oh, and i just realized that i failed to take a picture of the outside of this gigantic people-hangar… hm. oops.
maybe i’ll try to do that next weekend.
in the meantime: the inside of the sahara tent at coachella.
first off: pacific standard time presents modern architecture in l.a is up and running and certainly worth seeing, either in person or on the internetsmachine. here’s the link: pacificstandardtimepresents.org
secondly: i’m only including one picture in this update.
see, i was sitting outside and i was looking across the canyon and i noticed these three houses on the opposite ridge.
i see them everyday, but for some reason i was particularly struck by them today.
as you can see, there’s: a 1970’s castle, a spaceship, and an odd boxy modern house painted pink.
which is, all things considered, l.a architecture at it’s finest. or most random. or, subjectively, finest.
oh, and did i mention that there’s a mountain in the background?
and on the mountain you can find mountain lions and hikers and people riding horse’s in the middle of the city?
and people still think l.a is a terrible place?
a bizarre desert mountain beach suburban latino city filled with fantastically dysfunctional artists and musicians and writers?
a weird sprawling city where people sit in their backyards with their dogs and go on hiking dates when they’re not at the farmers market?
that sounds terrible? to whom, scrooge? dick cheney? pol pot?
oh, and people sometimes dismiss l.a for it’s sprawl, but as far as urban verbs are concerned isn’t ‘sprawl’ better than ‘sit’?
l.a might be a byzantine petri dish, but at least the things in petri dishes move around and do weird and interesting things.
here’s what i know: there was a period in the early 20th century when a lot of people in hollywood thought it was a good idea to build fantasy houses, borrowing liberally from spanish or mexican or norman or british or arabic architectural styles.
i don’t know if this period has a name, nor do i know if legitimate architectural writers/bloggers look at this period with awe and love or disdain and more disdain.
i also know that as a non-legitimate architectural writer/blogger i look at this period with awe and love, especially when compared and contrasted with the beige generic cat-vomit period that typifies a lot of l.a architecture from 1970 to 2013.
this particular house is clearly modeled on arabic/north-african architecture (i say ‘clearly’ because i’ve clearly seen arabic and north african buildings that kind of look like this house. so, ‘clearly’ is a completely subjective and non-academic term. to be clear). and it’s beautiful.
‘beautiful’ is also a completely subjective and non-academic term. but as i’m a self-proclaimed non-legitimate architectural writer/blogger i reserve the right to use terms that would be anathema to any legitimate architectural writer. like, ‘beautiful’, or ‘pretty’ or ‘generic cat vomit’.
maybe if this were my day job i’d be a little more academic in my criticisms. but i’m just a guy with a laptop, so: this building is beautiful and i love it and i wish the owners would invite me over to drink tea in those little bitty silver tea cups that you think of when you see a souk.
ok, i hope you had a nice weekend.
i mean, technically it’s attached to a building, so it’s tangentially architecture? right?
well, maybe i just have too broad an idea of what constitutes architecture, as i’ve included pictures of clouds and lizards on this site. but i’m a college drop-out, so what do you expect? an erudite and reasoned consideration of exceptional buildings? or pictures of lizards and graffiti? how about an erudite and reasoned consideration of lizards and graffiti? and buildings, too, on occasion.
i also have a really hard time spelling words with double consonants. like: ‘occasion’. is that right? it looks like it should have 2 ‘s’s’.
so: graffiti. you have to admit, this graffiti is pretty remarkable. and it defines and establishes the space, far more than the building upon which it’s been painted. the building itself is kind of egregiously unremarkable. it’s only the graffiti that distinguishes the building from the few million other generic buildings in l.a.
i especially like the scary blue baby doll playing bongos. and the scary clown.
see, l.a is a random city. or, rather, a city of randomness. and random things. and a twisted unicorn spaghetti approach to cohesion. and because l.a is random i believe it would be odd to make any attempt to either shoe-horn or force any notions of cohesion onto it. even if involving dangling participles. like the last sentence. sorry.
now, this building. house. bunker. it’s a random house in a random setting. it’s modern and kind of brutalist and boxy. it’s also grey, with dark windows. all well and good, but it presents a whole host of questions.
like, for instance, who wants to build a grey modernist box house on a desert hillside underneath blue skies and eucalyptus trees? i’m not saying it’s a bad choice, it’s just not necessarily the first choice many people would necessarily make when confronted with a building lot on a hillside surrounded by azure skies and eucalyptus trees.
i actually like this grey box house. it’s simple and austere and utilitarian and it makes very little sense in it’s site/context, but it makes perfect contextual sense in a sprawling urban environment that’s fantastically devoid of cohesion.
i mean, a house like this could’ve been anything. it could’ve been a beige hairball (as in: coughed up by a predator). or it could’ve been a norman castle or a spanish hacienda or a mies inspired rectilinear glass box or a lautner spaceship.
it could’ve been anything. and it’s a grey assemblage of boxes and dark windows. which is great, i guess. baffling when scrutinized, but great. cohesion is for sissies.
maybe that’s a new slogan for los angeles. along with: ‘los angeles, the first city of the apocalypse.’
p.s-i’m also including a picture of a giant cross with downtown in the background. it has nothing to do with this house. except that they’re in the same neighborhood. ok, thanks again.