Saturday, April 29, 2006

why I like jane jacobs

by now there are a million obits and tributes to jane jacobs, all better than anything I can write about her. so let me just list a few things I like about her work, her vision and her personality, that are sometimes absent from the discourse:
  • she never trained as an urban planner. she was "a theorist who opposed most theories." her ideas were derived from observation and common sense, rather than grand utopian/dystopian visions of future cities. as a blogger with no formal training in the subject I chose to write about it, its hard not to feel at least a little kinship with that perspective.
  • like all great things in life, diversity was paramount.
  • she fought robert moses, and she won.
  • she reduced cities to managable, understandable components - blocks - without being reductionist. she was able to explain complex ecosystems in a way that any layperson could understand. she made the byzantine intimate.

The New York Times' Blocks column had a fitting epitaph:

The owner of the Art of Cooking, Kate Humphrey, arrived at work to find several bouquets on the doorstep of No. 555 [Jane Jacob's old address].

One, a mixture of lilies and daisies and other springtime flowers, carried this unsigned message: "From this house, in 1961, a housewife changed the world."

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

more volunteer stuff - what's in it for you

the upcoming AIA tour in june is providing plenty of volunteer opps for anyone interested in architecture. their web site (turn down your volume since there's no way to make the horrible, tinny music stop) has info on volunteering and the forms to download and fill out (how very 1996). basically, they're looking for tour guides and the list of sites is pretty great:
  • Architects’ Homes
  • Wright in Hollywood
  • Santa Monica tours
  • Architects’ Offices
  • Hollywood Tours
  • Salk Institute
  • Walt Disney Concert Hall
  • Cathedral of Our Lady of Angels
  • The Getty Center
  • The Getty Villa
  • AIA Honor Awards series
  • downtown LA

upcoming architecture events: echo park walking tour

my evil overlords at curbed LA have a strict no-event posting policy, so I will use this blog as my dumping ground for interesting events I hear about thru curbed. first up, a walking tour by the echo park historical society in may:

Echo Park Lake Walking Tour

Explores Historic Heart of the Neighborhood

Saturday, May 13

Echo Park’s most prominent historic landmarks will be featured during a walking tour of Echo Park Lake and the adjoining neighborhood on Saturday, May 13th. The tour begins at 10 AM.

The 1-1/2 hour tour organized by the Echo Park Historical Society will include the colorful histories of prominent neighborhood buildings and institutions that have been recognized by local and national agencies as historic and cultural treasures. The outdoor tour features Angelus Temple, Jensen’s Recreation Center and the restored “Lady of the Lake” statue.

The tours leave from the Echo Park Boathouse, 751 Echo Park Ave. The tour group is limited to 20 people. A $5 donation is requested for adults. There is no charge for children under 12 or historical society members.

For tour information and reservations please call (323) 860-8874 or visit the historic society’s web site at

happy national volunteer week

so I've already posted about jane jacob's death on curbed LA and our company blog, RadarWaves, so why not make it three for three? I'm also a little tired of writing because posting about the Google vs. Miro fight on radar waves took a lot out of me. and I have an article I need to write in the next day or two on advertising networks that I'm pretty sure is going to piss off a lot of people. esp the ones who work for an ad network. but as some of my fellow ex-jupiter analysts know (and witnessed), that won't be the first time. so my skin is a little tougher after the ass-rape I received from a former client back in the Jup days and I'm prepared to go to battle.

did I mention that this is national volunteer week? what does that mean to you? Probably nothing, but I do want to give a little love to a volunteer org I've been with for a few months now. last year, I volunteered with Paws LA, a great organization dedicated to helping the terminally ill keep their companion animals. but after our dog's owner, Joel, passed away last easter, I lost my drive. it was a hard death to witness, and I wasn't eager to repeat it with a new dog and a new owner. so a friend of mine brought me to everybody wins LA, another great volunteer organization, that pairs professionals with elementary school kids in LA for lunchtime reading sessions. so once a week I head over to west hollywood elementary to read "charlotte's web" with my student. sadly, I think I'm far more excited about the book than she is. maybe our next one will be a judy blume. and no, not wifey or forever, although those were seminal texts for me when I was about her age.

as anyone who reads this blog regularly knows, I'm a little bit obsessed with LA - its architecture, its development, its environment. its been my adopted home now for almost 3 years (the fastest three of my life). but its not enough to simply read and write about the city - its a vibrant place that often reminds me of a small town. I know that probably seems weird to say, but compared to life in ny, its almost provincial. which is why its become increasingly important to me that I live in the community, that I belong to it, and give back to it. I'm going to get off my soapbox now and stop there, before I become a self-righteous a-hole. but suffice it to say that its very easy to become insulated within certain social circles. volunteering in LA has helped me get out of that to some extent. and of course, jane jacobs would approve. (see how I brought it all back like that? genius).

and for those of you still interested in architecture, my monthly docenting duties at the schindler house are this weekend - sun april 30th 11-2:30. tours are free with admission. and frankly, I give good tour.

Monday, April 24, 2006

monday media: no art, no walking

despite the best laid plans, never quite made it to the brewery artwalk this weekend. a combination of illness (chris'), flakiness (dave's), laziness (mine) and the weather (god's) conspired against us. which may be for the best, because I can't justify a purchase right now, no matter how good the bargain or talented the artist. so the weekend was mostly a bust and I accomplished little (except for a pretty good baby artichoke salad - I had never really played around with baby artichokes so I'm proud). so let's see if I can round up a couple of good links:

  • it must be a slow week in celeb real estate when hot property helps out christina ricci. you pretty much have to be living under a rock to not know the samuel-navarro house is for sale by her and adam goldberg, post break up. curbed LA has been covering it for several months now, including details on the bad remodeling job they did post-Keaton ownership.
  • Nielsen = Big Brother. The company just launched a GPS tracking system in LA to measure eyeballs for billboards: "Nielsen Outdoor tracks the passage of people as they ordinarily walk, drive or travel in other ways through the marketplace." Creepy.
  • Can I just say how devastated I am that Reggie lost the Search for the Next Food Network Chef? I was rooting for (and voting) for our local boy. The food network needs more big, black, gay chefs and hosts on the network. Al Roker doesn't count.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

looking at art makes better doctors

my sister sent me this article, not only because she, too, is a third year med student in the midst of rotations, or because her roommate is in the article, but because we tend to agree with the premise: art enriches all of our lives. and forcing future doctors to contemplate great art may, in fact, improve their observational abilities. and that's good for all of us.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

weekend artwalk


I can't believe its been a year since I was last at the brewery artwalk, but there it is again - this weekend. last year I became an art patron for the first time, buying an original piece by leigh salgado, who has a studio in the brewery. her work is delicate, intricate, and really beautiful. of course this year Im still feeling the pain of tax day, so no "frivolous" art purchases this year. but a beer and a hot dog in the sun near the galleries sounds pretty doable.

Monday, April 17, 2006

monday media: tax day edition

been away from blogging here for a few days - although I managed to post extremely sporadically on curbed LA last week. the past week has been extremely busy - working on a big project, doing some business development, writing an article for an online publication. oh, and passover - preparing the chicken soup for the ritz's seder took more time than I expected but my soup finally came out as good as my mom's. (the secret ingredient: short ribs).

and today is tax today. and after paying my 2005 taxes, my 1q06 taxes, my franchise tax for 2006 and my accountant for all of his hard work, I'm now, as the british say, feeling kind of skint. so of course, what better way to pick myself up than to buy a pair or two of shoes for summer.

anyway, its been a while since I've done monday media, so here are a couple of interesting links:
  • African Architecture and Design. rudy sent this one to me. not a lot of posting, but he covers an area few write about, and focuses on sustainability.
  • Bill Donohue = talking turd. not architecture related, but I couldn't resist linking to my future husband's post on a possible prankster behind the scenes at foxnews.
  • atwater village's street cred. I'm probably going to do a post on this one for curbed LA, or someone will, but we got this email about the beastie boys former office for sale for a cool $5 mil.

Monday, April 10, 2006

mendes da rocha who?

I'm glad I'm not the only who read the news of this year's pritzker prize and wondered "who?"

keywords that brought you here

  • barbara bestor bohemia
  • terra firma shoes
  • habitat 825
  • marissa boobs (I'm thinking they're looking for the infamous OC nip slip, not mine)
  • architecture, purgatory
  • angelino heights
  • planetarium/imax theater made by santiago calatrava
  • american born chinese gals
  • ceramic birds by c. mackey
  • alternative housing homeless shelter moma
  • financial proposal for lacma
  • howard's apartment burbank
  • lofts at melrose and highland
  • rm schindler politics

Friday, April 07, 2006

lovell health house

and finally, the lovell health house. the reverse chronology of blogs means that you're viewing these houses in the order john and I did - from lovell to fitzpatrick to stahl. (we skipped the hollyhock house - been there, done that) .

so yeah, john and I are playing the lottery again.

and as an aside, despite my bitching about the lorcan o'herily building going up to next to the schindler house, I'm a big fan. and one of his homes is on the cover of my favorite shelter mag that I can only occasionally indulge in: Living ETC. it was hard enough to justify the price when I was living in london, but with the dollar almost worthless, the tariffs and the shipping, it adds up quickly. anyway, its a gorgeous mag and the Jai house is unbelievable (esp the glossy floors and the suspended stairs).

so onto the lovell health house:

stairs 2
lovell side 2
living room 1
from pool 1
builtin 2

the fitzpatrick house

not as well known or as well documented as some other schindlers but it's great. totally livable, comfortable, sunny, and there is a rooster next door to wake you up in the morning. all right by mulholland drive.

fitzpatrick 3
pool 1
walkway 3

oh. my. god.

today john and I played semi-docents to a group of visiting belgian architects at some of the greatest, privately-owned homes in LA: neutra's lovell health house, schindler's fitzpatrick, and koenig's case study #22.

all of the owners were incredibly gracious, and all loved to talk about their lives in these homes. (mrs. topper has been at the lovell house since 1960 and mrs. stahl is the original owner of the case study house). I'm not an architect, and to be completely honest, too much talk about construction techniques, tension cables, and steel casements bores me. But the social history of these homes, the architect's program, the clash of egos and bureaucracy - that's the stuff that makes these houses come alive.

some of the photos below, more complete ones can be found on flickr in my mak tour set (which also includes a few of the photos I took in the fall of the big mak tour fundraiser). these are just the koenig house. more of the others to come.

pool 3
pool 1
glass panel 1
john 1
living room 1

Thursday, April 06, 2006

barbara bestor's bohemia

ok, actually I do have one quick post in me. just want to say how glad I am that barbara bestor is getting a little love from the LA times. her house was recently featured in domino or elle decor - I can't remember which but I'm inclined to say domino since her aesthetic seems more in line with that mag's and I just loved the use of natural light and outdoor space, the way she negotiated creating a kid-friendly space that was also beautiful, and coolest of all (if I'm remembering correctly), painting the exterior of her own house black so it disappeared in the dark but glowed from within. I just want to hang out by her firepit.

envy me

its been a really busy week for me, so not a lot of posting - here, or here, or here for that matter. trying to get a project (partly) done by early next week, so hard to fit blogging into the schedule. esp since I won't be working much tomorrow - instead I'll be at the lovell health house, giving a tour to a group of belgian architects. the problem is, I don't know much about the lovell health house, so I need to brush up a bit. and john is in charge of koenig's case study #22, so we need to figure out a way to trade places, without anyone noticing. sort of a geeky architecture version of a bad 80s sitcom. I'm sure no one will notice that 6ft, gay, hugh grant-doppelganger has been switched with a 5ft jewish girl. bringing a camera, so will hopefully have a ton of photos of these houses that are almost never open to the public.
in completely unrelated news, Aram and I had an article published today on video game advertising. and I got a personal tour of the robot chicken animation studios by a friend. yes, I'm spending my day writing about video games and watching animation magic. life could be worse.

oh wait, I'm also spending most of this week looking at spreadsheets and ad volume data. karmic justice to balance the fun stuff.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

this is what happens when business week tries to cover architecture

its all about frank. after reading this, you start to get the sense that a) no other architect in the world matters as much as frank and b) the author knows almost nothing about architecture. oh, and let me add c) architects admire fascists, or at least find a kindred spirit between architecture and fascism. to wit:

Like most of Gehry's work, Pelli added: "It's just a phenomenal will of an individual over matter."

right, his winery in spain is a triumph of the will. comments like that make me want to scream.