as an issue-laden and self-involved new yorker now living in l.a i of course go to therapy.
the other day while en route to therapy i passed this remarkable church in studio city (which is, technically, the valley, although my friends who live in studio city are loathe to admit it). i had 10 minutes free before therapy so i swung into the parking lot and stopped to take some pictures of this remarkable little modern church. and there, hidden in the midst of it’s remarkable-ness, were some equally remarkable and odd mosaics depicting things like, for example, ‘the first murder’.
so, here are some pictures of this remarkable modern church and ‘the first murder’ mosaic.
and oh, i tried to find out some information about the church, specifically who might’ve designed it, but all i learned on the google was that there’s a 3 year waiting list to get married in the church. at least according to the google.
so, in conclusion: nice architecture, nice and odd mosaics, and a 3 year waiting list to get married.
all in all it was an educational 10 minutes in the parking lot pre-therapy.
ok, i promised some updates featuring buildings with honest to goodness architectural significance, so: here’s a building with honest to goodness architectural significance.
a rare oscar neimeyer designed round spaceship building in the middle of l.a (well, the middle of west hollywood, which would be on the outskirts of l.a if you lived in east l.a).
apparently oscar neimeyer designed this amazing building in 1974 for a plastic surgeon and then it was bought in the 80’s by mark mothersbaugh from devo (i’m going to name-drop; i learned these things from mark when i was over there the other day).
i’m posting black and white pictures but if possible i highly recommend seeing it for yourself(ves), as in person it’s bright, swimming-pool green.
although now that i think about it i don’t know of too many bright green swimming pools.
so i guess ‘swimming pool green’ kind of makes no sense.
how about…7-up green?
or shamrock green?
you get the point: it’s bright green.
in context it’s amazing and random, as it’s surrounded by some egregiously banal west hollywood architecture. but smack dab in the
epicenter of tawdry west hollywood there’s this amazing oscar neimeyer designed green mark mothersbaugh spaceship.
yesterday i was running like a crazyperson to meet a friend for dinner and i was on a random side street in hollywood and i passed this oddball ‘alexander: ruler of the world’ apartment house and i had to stop and take a couple of pictures. (by the way, a key to bad writing: use ‘and’ as often as possible in the same sentence, that way your writing will sound like a 7 year old’s ‘what i did last summer’ essay…and then jimmy and i went to the pool and it was fun and jimmy ate french fries and then he threw up and then i went home and i had green beans and then i watched tv and and and. you get the point).
so: ‘alexander: ruler of the world’.
i don’t have much to say about the ‘alexander: ruler of the world’ apartment house except that:
c-it’s very colorful.
d-someone clearly went to a lot of effort to spruce up their otherwise banal apartment building.
e-there are greeks in l.a.
if my goal in this blog was to ‘document significant and important architecture’ then clearly i’d be falling short.
but my goal is to ‘document the random and at times beautiful weirdness of los angeles’.
and ‘alexander: ruler of the world’ apartment house is random and weird and beautiful if you’re willing to have very broad criteria for establishing something as beautiful.
coming next: i’m going to try and find something a bit more conventionally architecturally significant than autobody shops and pink apartment houses.
ok, i was in costa rica for the weekend playing the imperial festival with bjork and tv on the radio and thievery corp and flaming lips and lots of others.
to be clear: i’m not sure if i’m name dropping or if i’m just drawing attention to the fact that it was a really great festival.
but i’m mentioning the imperial festival, as it kept me away from l.a for a couple of days, and thus kept me from my true purpose in life: taking pictures of parking lots and old houses and putting them on the internet.
today’s oddball architecture blog is less about architecture and more about the strange and disconcerting and unique randomness of l.a.
today i’ve included 2 pictures, taken 40 minutes apart.
one picture is of a very glamorous auto body shop in the middle of hollywood.
and the other picture is of gigantic mountains.
i happily admit that there’s nothing too terribly remarkable about either picture.
but what makes them remarkable when taken together is that they’re 30 minutes away from each other in the same city.
there’s an old cliche that in l.a you can go skiing in the morning and surfing in the afternoon.
it’s a nice old cliche, because it’s true. and it’s a picturesque cliche, used to lure people to l.a for decades.
but less of a cliche, although equally true, is that in l.a you could pawn your silverware after breakfast and get eaten by a mountain lion or bear before lunch.
in fact you could pawn your silverware at 10 a.m and be running away from mountain lions by 11a.m.
(to be clear: i’ve never heard of anyone in l.a being eaten by a mountain lion or bear. i guess i was just trying to sound tough, as writing, ‘having a picnic by 11a.m’ doesn’t seem to carry the same gravitas).
so, auto body shop at 10 a.m, gigantic mountains at 10:45a.m.
today’s house is a simple little jewel box of a mid century house.
not the most dramatic, not the most architecturally significant, but just a perfect little solid mid century house.
perfectly proportioned, perfectly maintained, just a perfect little house.
in other narcissistic news: i’m off to costa rica for a couple of days, so i might not have any l.a architecture pictures for the couple of days i’m in costa rica.
maybe i’ll send some costa rica pictures. possibly of monkeys. possibly of poo throwing monkeys.
hopefully minus the actual poo.
i’m not squeamish, but i feel that my life is complete without being pelted by monkey poo.
ok, have a nice weekend wherever you are.
more grimy hollywood.
or: grimy hollywood adjacent.
i know, i go on and on about the ‘hidden in plain sight’ aspect of dirty l.a.
to wit: that you can be walking down the grimiest street in los angeles, working under the assumption that everything around you is unrelentingly grimy, but be amazed to find that countless odd and beautiful and remarkable buildings and homes and, in this case, monasteries can be inches away from you, hidden in plain sight.
within a few hundred yards of this monastery you could buy: gas, tacos, class-a narcotics, dusty antiques, pilates lessons, more class-a narcotics, and etc.
or you could walk onto the grounds of this monastery and buy banana bread made by the monks and/or nuns (ok, maybe it’s a convent, i’m not sure, to be honest).
and when i took this picture there was a ginormous traffic jam on the 101, just a few dozen yards away.
but here on the little monastery (or convent) all was quiet and still.
it’s a monastery (or convent) hidden in the middle of grimy hollywood. and it’s a beautiful, sylvan, quiet, bucolic (which might be the same as ‘sylvan’, or just a little bit different) monastery (or convent).
there’s a long and odd and amazing history of different religious and spiritual groups settling in hollywood. from catholics to theosophists to scientologists to buddhists to 7th day adventists to satanists to presbyterians to jews to muslims to snake handlers and etc.
the scientologists tend to have the gaudiest and most ubiquitous buildings, whereas clearly the catholic monks(or nuns)have the most concealed
and restrained building(s). at least as regards this monastery (or convent).
so, here’s hollywood at it’s loveliest and most random.
ok, a few apologies.
or a couple of apologies.
i was in nyc, so i couldn’t send in new oddball pictures of l.a architecture.
or new pictures of oddball l.a architecture.
second apology: these pictures are in color.
because, simply, it was a beautiful day and this house is/was surrounded by all sorts of great tropical trees.
i love this house because it makes no sense to me whatsoever.
it’s cute and little but has some pretty grand corbusier-esque concrete swoops and some odd rectilinear windows and some odd round porthole windows and it sort of feels like a sub-tropical glamorous concrete bunker and i feel like oscar niemeyer would live here when he’s in l.a.
although i’m not sure if oscar neimeyer was ever in l.a.
a short story: one time i was in rio driving through the tijuca forest and we rounded a corner and a friend of mine said ‘that’s where oscar neimeyer lives.’
and i was stunned into silence (because oscar neimeyer is a genius).
and oscar neimeyer’s house in the tijuca forest somehow reminded me of this little house in hollywood.
ok, so far i’ve had a non-buckminster fuller house and a non-oscar neimeyer house (unless some smart person tells me that this was, in fact, built by oscar neimeyer. that would be cool).
i guess i should stop being lazy and do some research and figure out who builds all of these houses.
ok, here’s the non-oscar neimeyer house in the hollywood jungle.
and oh, the odd blue house next to it is pretty cool, too.
ok, i’m cheating.
i have my architecture blog, which is supposed to be exclusively about l.a architecture.
but i just took a walk around my neighborhood in nyc at 3a.m (with my old friend insomnia) and took some pictures of my neighborhood at 3 a.m.
they’re not the greatest pictures, but they do represent my neighborhood at 3 a.m pretty well, and i’m putting them up so that if i’m feeling nostalgic i can remember my ye olde nyc neighborhood at 3 a.m (and it’s a deep nostalgia, as i first wandered around this neighborhood in 1982… needless to say it was, uh, different then).
nyc is, of course, quite photogenic.
and the biggest problem with nyc from a photographers perspective is that almost every last inch of nyc has been photographed about a trillion times.
and the best and most iconic pictures of new york were probably taken 100 or so years ago.
i mean, any photographer who tries to take a picture of nyc better than edward steichen’s flatiron building picture is almost certainly delusional.
in fact almost all photography from the last 120 years sort of sits squarely in edward steichen’s shadow.
ok, flying back to l.a now.
for some reason i’ve always loved utilitarian public architecture from the 20’s and 30’s.
i (probably mistakenly) call it w.p.a architecture, even if a lot of it was built before the wpa period.
oh, wpa. here:
a lot of public architecture from the 20’s and 30’s was utilitarian and austere but sort of accidentally ornamented and modern at the same time.
and l.a seemingly has a lot of wpa architecture (even if it pre-dated the wpa).
today’s pictures are of a wpa dam (that probably pre-dated the wpa, i just like pretending it was built by well intentioned and out of work lefties) that is, as are most things here, hidden in plain sight. it’s about 1/2 a mile from grimy hollywood and about 1/4 mile from one of the busiest freeways in america.
but yet it’s bucolic and quiet and beautiful and hidden away.
if you’ve visited l.a you’ve most likely been stuck in traffic 1/4 mile away from this dam and reservoir, cursing other drivers while ducks and mountain lions were running around in the woods and on the reservoir just a few hundred feet away. oh, and i’m guessing the ducks spend most of their time on the reservoir whereas the mountain lions probably spend more time in the woods.
i love this little dam building, especially, as it looks all boxy and utilitarian from the front but then has a bizarre curving wall cantilevered out over the water.
‘cantilevered’ is one of my favorite words in the english language, by the way.
architecture gets all the cool words.
a few things:
1-have a nice weekend.
2-the other day i was driving on a side street in hollywood and i found my new favorite building in l.a. i mean, i’m sure tomorrow i’ll find another new favorite building, but for today this is my new favorite building. it’s an apartment building (with vacancies, at least according to the sign), and intentionally or unintentionally it’s been almost completely subsumed into/by the surrounding trees and vines and plants. i know that some smart, fancy, modern architects talk about livingbreathing buildings, and people are designing buildings that incorporate plant life into the fabric of the building. and all that is great. but i can’t help but guess that this (or angkor wat) was the prototype for the living breathing building trend.
or maybe it’s just a vine and tree covered building hidden on an odd little side street in hollywood.
in any case it’s amazing.
i even snuck into the courtyard to take a picture. so the picture that looks like the courtyard is, in fact, the courtyard.
sometimes i just like to state the obvious.
ok, as i said in ‘1’, have a nice weekend.
here’s the angkor wat apartment house (to be clear, it’s not actually the angkor wat apartment house, it just reminded me of angkor wat. and no, i’ve never seen angkor wat in person, i’m just trying to sound fancy).